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This generation must vote to change America

From COVID-19 to the Black Lives Matter protests, 2020 has opened the eyes of this generation. We have faced unspeakable tragedies in less than a year, and still we remain strong. The next step in improving our country is to vote.

The semester of spring 2020 was cut short when news got out about COVID-19 being confirmed as the start of a pandemic. High school and college graduates missed out on one of their groundbreaking moments in life, walking the stage. Students were forced to move and stay at home during the summer with minimum sources of income from “essential” jobs.

“I worked during the summer because I had bills to pay,” Kahleel Guerrier, a junior majoring in biology, said.

Some students took this time to instead invest in themselves and start their own businesses.

“Truly, the pandemic motivated me,” Courtney Williams, a junior majoring in business management, said. “I started my small business, Furs&FairyMinks LLC, in April. We sell multicolor fur slides, mink lashes, designer headbands, and anklets. Although the world was going through a crisis, I wanted to invest in myself, and I strived for growth.”

“I believe being self-employed has more advantages than working for someone else. You choose your hours. All the profit goes to you. You have ownership of it all,” Williams said.

According to Oberlo, the US had 30.7 million small businesses in 2019. As of Aug. 2020, that number has increased by one million. That’s one million businesses that have started in less than a year during a pandemic.

VSU students alone have plenty of businesses on campus, including Glossed By Nae Cosmetics, Crowned by Ash, Furs&Fairy Minks LLC and Accessories By S.

Soon after the pandemic arose, the Black Lives Matter organizations began protesting on May 26 in response to the killing of George Floyd on May 25 by a Minneapolis police officer.

Many students were present during these protests. VSU students were seen at protests in both Atlanta and Valdosta, advocating for the rights of Black people.

“I felt like it was a must I participated because our grandparents fought and protested for us and we have to continue that fight,” Ashanti Ford, a junior majoring in finance, said. “This generation will go down in history for the protest. Our grandparents didn’t loot stores nationwide and burn buildings down. We did and that separates us from other generations. They enacted a curfew for us, that says a lot alone.”

These two events alone have caused a shift in America. Companies began catering to the BLM movement left and right with ads such as “If you tolerate racism, delete Uber,” launched by Uber on Aug. 28 for the anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

According to BuiltIn, at least 22 major companies, including Airbnb, Bumble, DoorDash and Microsoft support #BlackLivesMatter because of our generational impact with the help of social media and spreading awareness.

“I believe that this generation can make a great impact in America if they work hard and use the knowledge in which they have learned through so many avenues that weren’t available to prior generations, including paper trail and technology,” said Hazel McCoggle, the Student Recreation Center’s building services foreperson.

Once again, protests and helping the economy despite COVID-19 are both actions that have been taken by our generation. The next step in the movement towards a better America is voting.

Many students are still not registered or do not care to vote. The question remains, why stop here? Why advocate and fight for yourself and others through social media and donations, but stop at the next level?

Voting in the upcoming elections, from local state government to national offices can make a huge impact on the lives we are living today. If we want policies to change, if we want our voices to be heard, now is the time to do it.

According to Library of Congress, “When citizens cast their ballots for president in the popular vote, they elect a slate of electors. Electors then cast the votes that decide who becomes president of the United States. Usually, electoral votes align with the popular vote in an election.”

“I am registered to vote,” Austin Blanton, a senior majoring in communication, said. “It is my duty as a citizen to vote and create the change I want.”

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