Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Fired Up

I was so excited when I got invited to speak at Moral Monday in Alamance County. I was glad to have the opportunity to show other young people that if they pay attention and take action, they could make a difference.

Having been to previous Moral Mondays in Raleigh, Asheville, Charlotte, and Greensboro, I sort of knew what to expect. What I didn't expect was for so many people to show up right in my own little hometown. There were over 500 people at the event. The main organizer, Noah Read of Burlington, did a fantastic job of arranging and publicizing the event along with the Alamance County NAACP.

The highlight of my experience was getting to meet two women who have inspired me and I consider to be my heroes. I met Ellie Kinnaird, who resigned from the NC Senate in order to get people registered and to the polls to vote. I also met Rosanell Eaton, who I heard speak at Moral Monday and inspired me to take action.

I also got to see many friends I've made at previous Moral Mondays and meet many of my petition signers and supporters for the very first time. I also met a lot of young people. I met other girls who were inspired by my speech. I got to meet some very young future leaders too. 

Here is a video of the speech I gave. I am so thankful to Story of America for filming this amazing video. 

Today, this speech is being shared all over the internet and is getting a lot of attention. I'm extremely thankful to everyone who has shared this and I'm glad people are paying attention.

The point of all this, of everything I'm doing, is to restore the opportunity of teenagers here in North Carolina to pre-register. If I dream BIG, I would love to see a Federal pre-registration law passed. That way there would be a uniform age for pre-registration across the entire nation giving this opportunity to all of America's young people. The attention does no good without action. So, to all of you who are paying attention, please take action. Please contact your lawmakers. Please ask any candidate you plan to vote for how they plan to lead and encourage young people. Tell them you want to vote for a candidate that supports the restoration of pre-registration.

What we need is, first and foremost, for someone to sponsor the re-introduction of this legislation granting teenagers the ability to pre-register. Then we need to get it passed. We need the kind of representatives who want to encourage our youth and increase voter turnout among our young people in order to do this. We need to get promises and hold people to those promises.

As I said in my speech, "The match has been lit and my fire burns bright." But I need more wood on the fire. I want to be able to pre-register to vote when I turn 16. Please help me get this done. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Poor Man's Vegetable

This came straight off Governor McCrory's official website:

"Governor McCrory announced today that approximately 6,700 pounds of fresh turnip greens harvested at the state prison farm at Caledonia Correctional Institution are being delivered to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina." 

This is the first of four planned deliveries. They plan to deliver a total of 26,800 pounds of turnip greens. It could be even more than that if the number of needy people increases.

The Governor presented cookies to women concerned about their reproductive rights and thought that cake was "a child's request" when I stood outside his mansion late at night with a protest sign.

Do you think North Carolina's citizens fell off the turnip truck, Governor? Are you just that out of touch with the citizens you represent?

Maybe you were unaware that in the Old South, the slave masters kept the turnips for themselves and gave the discarded turnip greens to their slaves. Perhaps you don't know how offensive it was to brag about giving turnip greens to hungry North Carolinians. This is your chance to apologize.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Having Your Cake

It appears Governor McCrory does like to share cake with some people. He chose not to share cake with me, but in his effort to diss and dismiss me by calling my request to meet with him ridiculous and calling me a prop for liberal groups, he actually made even more people aware of my efforts to restore pre-registration for teenagers.

The United States Justice Department is bringing a lawsuit on North Carolina because of the 56 page voting bill Governor McCrory signed into law. McCrory commented on this lawsuit by citing how President Obama  himself had to present an ID when he voted early in Chicago and how he feels the Justice Department disagrees with majority of North Carolinians who think showing an ID when you vote is a good idea.

Once again, a 12 year old girl has to point out obvious things that the Governor of North Carolina seems to miss. What the Justice Department is challenging here is not a simple voter ID law. The Justice Department is challenging this law because it is overly restrictive as far as the type of ID that can be used and doesn't offer enough protections for voters who do not have ID. There are also three other parts of this law that the Justice Department is challenging. The new voting law in NC cut back on the number of early voting days. It eliminated same-day registration. It also stopped the counting of provisional ballots from people who went to the wrong polling place by accident.

The Department of Justice can't do anything about the elimination of pre-registration for teenagers in NC. However I, unlike the Governor, been doing a lot of reading on this topic. A recent report by the Commission on Youth Voting and Civic Knowledge (a non-partisan organization) recommends that we, "align states’ high school civics curricula with voting reforms that encourage pre-registration in schools." I encourage all my readers who care about youth engagement in democracy to read the entire report here: http://www.civicyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/CIRCLE-youthvoting-individualPages.pdf

This voter ID law is much more than a voter ID law and if McCrory is going to defend the law, he needs to defend the whole thing. Own it, Governor, and if and when you do own it, you need to tell us why. If you want to have your cake at our expense, Governor, you should be prepared to eat it when 2016 gets here.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Welcome to Rape Culture, Population You

In my small town, there are adult men who care more about the high school football games than the teenagers do. They care more about the football teams in the local schools than they do the quality or variety of classes offered there. In a small town like this, there's a great deal of socioeconomic prejudice. There's also a great deal of sexism. We might as well put up a sign on the highway, "Welcome to Rape Culture."

When I read about 14-year-old Daisy Coleman of Maryville, Missouri, she could easily be a girl I know. Daisy was raped by a member of her high school's football team. Instead of getting the justice she deserved, Daisy and her family were attacked by members of their own community. You can read Daisy's story, along with the story of her friend who was also raped, here in the Kansas City Star:

I know a lot of girls who are "boy obsessed." This obsession with boys, putting them at the center of our universe, contributes to rape culture. Still, the only person who can be blamed for abuse whether it be sexual, physical, or emotional, is the abuser. At the same time girls have to start putting themselves at the center of their own universes, clear messages need to be sent from other boys that young men are responsible for their behavior. We girls have a role here too, as we need to stand by those young men who are sending this message.

Young men and young women need to always demand justice in cases of abuse. In this case, the case of Daisy Coleman, the fact the rapist was a football player with the right last name led to him getting off free as a bird. It was Daisy and her family who were ostracized, bullied, and subjected to further attacks. The adults in that town need to be ashamed of themselves. Many of the adults in my town need to be ashamed of themselves too.

We can change the culture that contributed to what happened in Maryville, Stubenville, and many other towns across America. It will take standing up and demanding respect not just for ourselves, but for others. Right now, let's all stand up and demand respect for Daisy and her friend who went through and continue to go through a horrible ordeal.