League Of Women Voters Mary Warren Impact Scholarship Winner Charlotte Beno's Winning Essay
This past summer (2022), the Supreme Court overturned the landmark case Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs decision, as it revoked a precedent set almost fifty years prior, stripped away women's bodily autonomy across the country. Despite the fact that a majority of the country did not support the overturning of Roe, the court went ahead with the decision, even after resistance. At the time of the decision, three of the nine justices were women.
Lakewood High School proudly teaches AP African American Studies. That same class has been banned in the state of Florida. Governor DeSantis argues that the class lacks educational value and pushes a political agenda. This continues the erasure of Black history from the public school curriculum. Seventeen percent of Florida's population is Black.
On February 13, a mass shooting occurred at Michigan State University. Three students lost their lives and others were injured. One of the students on campus that day was a survivor of the Sandy Hook Shooting, eleven years prior. In the United States, there are young adults who have lived through multiple mass shootings. Meanwhile, politicians are wearing assault rifle pins on the floor of Congress.
Issues like these are why equal representation matters. Politics in America has become increasingly divided in recent years, and this has come at the expense of the people. The wants of the people are not being represented in government. We can see evidence of this when we look at our current legislature and court. Despite this being the most diverse Congress in history, it is still not an accurate picture of the nation. Women only make up 28% of Congress, and racial minorities only make up about a quarter. Our government does not mirror the makeup of the population. And because of this, we are seeing legislation (and lack there of) that does not reflect the beliefs of the people. This has become glaringly apparent with the election of Donald Trump and what followed. Young people have demonstrated their desire for change. Our government has to look different than it has for our entire history.
A government full of one type of person only functions and works for that type of person. The men who are making decisions about women’s bodies are not representative of women’s choices. The white men making choices about if Black history is “educational” are not representative of the Black population. The Congress with an average age of roughly sixty that refuses to pass protective gun regulations is not representative of the families in America. For centuries, minorities have had to fight to have their voices heard in government. It took until 1870 for a Black man to be elected into the federal government, and until 1917 (before women could even vote) for a woman to achieve that. If America promises to be a country that is governed by the people, we must actually be governed by our people. That means having a government that reflects the population and its beliefs.
Charlotte Beno is attending Ohio State University.
Community activist and concerned citizen.