Diverse Representation is a Tool, Not a Goal: An Openly Homosexual American Descendant of Slavery Vies for Mayor of Chapel Hill

Zachary R. Boyce

POLITICS

Note: The Local Reporter has invited all candidates for local office in the upcoming Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district elections to submit up to two guest columns.
 
Note: The headline of this column was supplied by the column’s author. Contemporary journalism style guides discourage the use of the term “homosexual” and recommend using instead the terms “gay” or “lesbian.” However, contemporary journalistic ethics also espouses the principle that we should call people what they want to be called, which implies that we also should allow people to call themselves what they want to be called. In this instance, the editor decided to publish the headline as submitted in accordance with the latter principle.
 
By Zachary R. Boyce

I was born and raised by two proud army veterans in Fayetteville, NC, before I went on to study Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. My time working at UNCW in the Trauma and Resilience Neuroscience Laboratory, compounded by my experiences abroad as a volunteer with the United States Peace Corps in Ecuador, inform my perspective and motivate me to bring a globally-inclusive orientation to our municipality.

When the Town of Chapel Hill’s municipal government and the University of North Carolina will not govern and administrate cohesively — collectively — students, as patrons of local business, have no money to put back into the town’s economy. We all saw clearly last fall that when our student population’s needs are discounted, the entire town’s economy suffers. Further, as our community witnessed in the fall of 2020, lapses in communication between the municipality and the university can result in deadly consequences that ripple throughout our community and, more broadly, throughout North Carolina and the Deep South.

Naturally, as a first-generation student in higher education, I am committed to prioritizing the use of the most cutting-edge and evidence-based research when it comes to policy formation. I was inspired to run for the position of mayor for the Town of Chapel Hill by my experiences working with interdisciplinary scholars in UNC’s Graduate and Professional Student Government, as well as by my colleagues who share a passion for fostering meaningful careers in public service with the critical thinking tools kept within UNC School of Law. My campaign differs from the incumbent’s and from the outgoing town councilwoman’s because of my historically-excluded perspective and subsequent commitment to upholding principles like those on which our nation’s republic was founded — including critical reasoning, diversity, economic opportunity, and the separation of church and state.

Historically, white women secured the right to vote for themselves 100 years ago when the 19th Amendment was passed; Asian American women gained suffrage shortly after. My campaign is unique because I am a native of North Carolina who grew up with a multi-ethnic background. However, the fact that I am running against a white woman and an Asian American woman should not matter in nor of itself.

The fact of the matter is that white women and Asian American women had voting rights in America before the descendants of slaves could vote, and even before the American descendants of slaves like me were permitted to learn at UNC School of Law. Thus, it matters. For the historically excluded, equality means equitable access to the institutions and opportunities that are founded on the colonial-settler legacy of Indigenous genocide and African chattel slavery that are the hallmarks of the last 700 years of history in the Americas. We descendants of slaves and Indigenous peoples — like any other human beings — require first- hand representation in government to begin healing from the generational traumas left open from slavery and racism.

Indeed, those from historically-excluded communities like mine demand evidence-based reparative solutions for the ongoing horrors of institutional racism. Therefore, I am committed to evaluating and ameliorating those intentional/unintentional discriminatory impacts of exclusionary municipal policies. Doing so could best enable our Chapel Hill community and the public research institutions of North Carolina to equally/equitably share resources instead of continuing to operate in systems that reinforce the cultural erasure and assimilation of community members who are made to wear systemic oppression on their skin.

Ultimately, representation is a means — not an end. If I were to be elected as mayor, my team would comprise other service-oriented and interdisciplinary scholars who are dedicated to transforming our flagship public-university town in unprecedented ways. Specifically, we would seek to increase the efficiency of inter-institutional communication and governance directly with student, faculty and administrative leaders of UNC. Immediately in our community, we will seek to eliminate systemic manifestations of poverty with tools of empirical investigation in order to increase access to affordable housing, public transportation, resources for COVID-19 detection/relief and, of course, reparations for the legacy of economic exclusion stemming from slavery. Realizing these aspirations of fairness is achievable by critically and directly confronting the impacts of racism and systematic impoverishment — the real suffering — that historically excluded communities like mine endure today.


Zachary R. Boyce, a native of Fayetteville, North Carolina and a first-generation dual-degree student at UNC School of Law, is a candidate for mayor of Chapel Hill.

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11 Comments on "Diverse Representation is a Tool, Not a Goal: An Openly Homosexual American Descendant of Slavery Vies for Mayor of Chapel Hill"

  1. Geoffrey Green | August 15, 2021 at 5:58 pm | Reply

    So “homosexual” is an odd word to use in the headline. First, it’s generally disfavored by news organizations such as the AP and, second, The article does not discuss the candidates sexuality at all. Curious if the editorial leadership of this newspaper has any comment on the headline and how it came to be and if they think it’s appropriate. Thanks in advance for your transparency.

  2. Local Reporter | August 15, 2021 at 6:34 pm | Reply

    The author of the column provided the headline.

  3. Melody Kramer | August 16, 2021 at 7:42 am | Reply

    Newspapers have editorial control over what they print and in almost all cases supply the headlines for opeds.

    The word homosexual in this headline is offensive – and if supplied by the author could have been rejected, changed, or printed with the inclusion of a signed editor’s note explaining your decision. To not do so is a disservice to your readers.

  4. Local Reporter | August 16, 2021 at 1:35 pm | Reply

    A response from the column’s author, Zachary R. Boyce:

    “To me, as someone who does not harbor a belief/default assumption that there is anything wrong with same-sex interpersonal partnerships, the word “homosexual” is not inherently offensive. Therefore, I am optimistic that Ms. Kramer will be able to engage more deeply/critically with the content of my message than the surface of the text.”

  5. Where can we find more information on how we can support this candidate with a campaign donation?

  6. So what kind of colonial induced…chattel slavery…and indigenous genocide…were colonials committing in the Americas 700 hundred years ago?
    (That date would be 1321 AD.)
    This guy is absolutely clueless.

  7. Poppy Strickland | October 19, 2021 at 9:38 am | Reply

    I’m sorry to inform people…this guy doesn’t have a clue what slave suffrage was about…I doubt he knows who Francisco Félix de Souza is….everything he wrote was scripted with ALL the PROPER “buzzwords” of political posturing as a victim of various identities….Please! How about processing CONSTRUCTIVE thinking instead of “critical thinking”….we have enough critics on campus already….

  8. This rhetoric is distasteful, false, and dangerous. Why are you choosing to make light of the Asian American struggle in order to push yourself up? That is not the type of candidate I’m looking to vote for. Plus, your facts are blatantly incorrect. Black Americans received the right to vote in 1870, whereas the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 finally allowed first-gen Asian Americans to gain citizenship and vote.

  9. This woke word salad could use some croutons. No substance.

  10. Undergraduate Anonymous | November 2, 2021 at 3:47 pm | Reply

    Your heart is in the right place, but where is the substance? Although it is true that the African-American community has been historically unrepresented, not just in Chapel Hill but this country abroad, it is not enough to have your heritage and color of your skin be the primary focuses for your campaign.

    “My campaign is unique because I am a native of North Carolina who grew up with a multi-ethnic background. However, the fact that I am running against a white woman and an Asian American woman should not matter in nor of itself.

    The fact of the matter is that white women and Asian American women had voting rights in America before the descendants of slaves could vote, and even before the American descendants of slaves like me were permitted to learn at UNC School of Law. Thus, it matters.”

    Your campaign is not unique because you are a North Carolinian with non-white parents. There are other representatives with this same background. Who cares about the heritage/sex of your opponents? I want a representative that learn from history and create reasonable, measurable, and attainable solutions to the problems this town is facing (which btw the most pressing issue is climate change regardless of political affiliations, race, gender, etc.).

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