North Carolina and I have a complicated relationship. I was born and raised here in the Old North State and have, for the most part, been very proud to be a North Carolinian. Yet in just a few short years, this has begun to change.
I’m 19. For most of my life, North Carolina has been a leader in the South. However this period has come to a hasty halt. All aspects of our lives have been altered by legislation that has been passed and signed into law by a new pack of North Carolina lawmakers. From our environment to our ability to obtain medical care, it feels like North Carolinians have lost their voice. We are losing everything from our religious freedoms to our best teachers, and these decisions are not backed by our voices but by a few wealthy white men’s checkbooks.
When I read that just this year, 600 teachers have left our state’s largest school system, I feel disheartened. I am tired of seeing my state making headlines for the wrong reasons. Every part of me has been shaped by this state. I am public school educated and have had spectacular teachers. What happens when our state’s downward spiral continues and these incredible educators are forced to leave? What happens to the students who deserve a quality education like the one that I received?
If you, like me, feel incredibly discouraged with North Carolina, do not lose hope. We have a voice. We have a way to move forward once again and that way is the midterm elections.
Did you know that surveys show both voter interest and voter participation are nearing all-time lows? At a time when politicians on both sides of the aisle are running roughshod over everything I love about this state, it shocks me that more people aren’t crying out for change.
This November we can demonstrate that this is not our North Carolina. We can prove that our state is not for sale. This November we can vote. We can vote for whomever we feel best represents our ideals.
Although Election Day is November 4th (mark your calendars!), we need to lay the groundwork now to make sure that come November, everyone knows their voting rights. Recent changes to North Carolina’s voter law have meant some confusion at the polls.
And you young people? I’m especially talking to you. In the last midterm election in 2010, only 17% of us voters age 18 to 25 voted. We can do better. Let’s make sure that we’re registered and informed because we are the generation that will be stuck with the tragedy that has been created of our state.
We have the power to change our state’s direction. So please, North Carolina, vote. Bring a friend, a sibling or a parent. Vote together. Let your voice be heard because this is not the North Carolina that I want to call my home.