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.