Activism is Survival, Disinterest is a Luxury
By Faith Carter-Nottage, Member of Advancement Project National Office’s Young Voter of Color Advisory Committee
It has been exactly 219 days since I last hugged my best friend. It’s been less than a year but it feels like a memory from a different era. As a senior attending the University of Maryland Baltimore County, every morning I get up and join the millions of other students around the country attending class behind a computer screen. It feels like we are working harder than ever despite not knowing what the world will look like when the dust settles.
Thinking things can’t get any worse is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. It can always get worse if you allow it. Every election shapes our reality in this country. Unfortunately, if you don’t participate, then you forfeit a part of your voice. To put it bluntly, if you don't care about politics, politics won’t care about you.
If you are reading this, chances are you’ve already made your decision about who you're voting for. Now the people who were asleep have been jolted awake by the chants of those who never had the luxury to rest. Activism is survival; disinterest is a luxury. This moment has given voters, especially young voters like myself, room to reflect on the four years behind us and the four years ahead.
I voted in my first general election four years ago. At the time, I was the only one in my friend group who voted. Everyone else was either just below the voting age or uninterested. This year, young people have seen the unjust murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Rayshard Brooks, and Breonna Taylor. Young voters of color have raised their voices to demand justice.
I feel like in this election there has been more effort made to reach out to young voters - and we really appreciate it - but this level of encouragement should be the standard. No matter the outcome of this election, we cannot afford to lose this energy. Young people want to feel like our voices and perspectives are just as legitimate as older adults.
We are often called idealistic or naive when it comes to our political visions. Instead of dismissing us, older generations could explain what is necessary to build the future we want. Voting is a key tool in that.
Here is my advice to other young voters: When you vote, don’t just vote for your present self. Vote for your future self and the futures of others. Where will we be a year from now? Two? Three? It’s impossible to say, but whatever the circumstances, we need a leader that will be supportive and empathetic no matter who you are. Anyone who measures someone’s personhood by their skin color, sexual orientation, disability, or the number in their bank account does not belong in any position of power.
Also, when you vote, don’t just think about the president. Vote for the sheriff, schoolboard members, measures and propositions that directly impact education, law enforcement and issues of inequality that we see every day. The president doesn’t have as much impact on our local challenges as these electeds do, so make sure your vote is counted in both the local and national races.
Faith Carter-Nottage is a senior attending University of Maryland Baltimore County. She is a member of Advancement Project National Office’s Young Voter of Color Advisory Committee.