A Historic Win for Charlotte, NC Open's Eyes To Long Lasting Prejudice

A Historic Win for Charlotte, NC Open's Eyes To Long Lasting Prejudice

Vi Lyles wins recent election becoming the city's first African American mayor
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Vi Lyles made history in Charlotte on the 7th of November by being elected as the city's first African American mayor. With 59% of the vote, she defeated Republican Kenny Smith who received 41% of votes. This is yet another win for Democrats in Charlotte, where Democrats have won five back to back mayoral races, ending with Pat McCrory.

According to her website, Lyles mother Mary was a teacher and her father Robert owns a construction company. Growing up in Columbia, South Carolina, she thought that by moving to a big city, she wouldn't face the same type of racism and discrimination she did back home. Unfortunately, Charlotte was no different at the time, and this inspired her to work towards creating a better living environment for everyone.

With 30 years of experience in city government and public service in Charlotte, her list of accomplishments include working for underrepresented neighborhoods and increasing investment towards affordable housing. Lyles received her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Queens University and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Masters of Public Administration.

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Lyles' win is a huge step towards a more inclusive and progressive Charlotte. Being the largest city in North Carolina, it is becoming more and more diverse every day. The large population of minorities in Charlotte have not had much representation throughout the years, so seeing a woman of color take on such an important role will have a huge impact in the community. Better representation means better laws for those forgotten, and more importance on issues that other mayors wouldn't have really thought about.

Personally, her win means a lot to me for various reasons. Being a woman and a minority myself, I look up to her because she was able to overcome barriers I familiar with. I am usually the only Hispanic in most of my classes, and truthfully sometimes it is a little intimidating. Also, I am studying political science and I know that it is hard for women to be in politics because we are underestimated, even if we are just as qualified as a man applying for the same job (take the case of Hillary Clinton). Representation really does matter, and when we see someone who looks like us achieve their dreams, it shows us that anything is possible through hard work.

Vi Lyles's win was just one of several historic wins across the country in Tuesday night's elections. In Minneapolis, Andrea Jenkins became the first open transgender person of color to win a seat in the city's council. In Hoboken, New Jersey, Ravinder Bhalla was elected as the city's first Sikh mayor and in Seattle, Jenny Durkan won as the city's first lesbian mayor.

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Cover Image Credit: Google

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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How Starting Your Journey Is Half Of The Battle

"You can start your journey any day at anytime."

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Not that long ago, I wrote an article about a little phrase I heard on my friend's snapchat story. It got a tone of views and a lot of great feedback. And just in time for the beginning of the new school semester, he said something else that just kind of stuck with me.

He said that you can start your journey any day, at any time.

Okay so we've all heard this before but have any of us actually taken the time to put that saying into action? Well, quite recently I have. I used to be the type of person who waited until last minute to do everything, whether it was homework, a workout plan or whatever I wanted to accomplish. I used to be the type of person who said that at whatever time I'll start my homework and if it was a minute past that time I would have to wait to the start of the new hour....yes like the meme.

But now, ever since I heard that quote, it's been replaying in my head on a loop. Which is why I now just do things at the moment they're thought of and not a certain time. I decided that this is the semester, I don't wait until the last minute to do all of my work, and so far it's going well. I decided that this is the perfect time to get in shape, and not wait until the New Year, because I'm the skinniest most out of shape person that I know. I decided that instead of waiting until the new year to eat healthier that I'm going to do it now.

For a while I have wanted to get back into dance. I kept saying that I'll sign up for classes again when I finish school. But instead I decided to do it now, registered for a ballet class at school and signed up for ballroom dance, and it hands down has been one of the best decisions I have made.

Honestly it's been weird not having a set start date and time for certain things, but why would I put off doing something that I want to do? What I will say though, is that not procrastinating on homework has made these first couple of weeks of the semester fly by and seem like a breeze.

Just by letting go of the idea that every thing needs to have a set start date and time and a set date and time to end has made the pressure of things go away. By just starting my journey for whatever I'm doing right now, has increased my happiness and my overall productivity of what I'm doing.

So a little word of advice just go for and just do whatever you want to do right now.

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