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Jamira Burley Headshot

Don't Forget About Me... What It Takes To Get My VOTE 2012

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In 2008 there was so much excitement surrounding the Presidential election it was contagious. For many, like myself it would be one of our first opportunities to vote for the United States highest office... President. As a 20-year-old, just started my second semester in college it turned into one of the biggest moments of my life.

There was, not only a black man in the race, but also a woman -- both of whom represented many of the issues I care about. But a lot has changed since that time of staying up late to hand out flyers and giving up my weekends to canvass.

2008 felt so much more youth inspired, as if we had a stake in prosperity of this country, a country and government for which we will one day inheret. Four years have passed and still many young people are disenfranchised in cities around the country. Education has taken a back seat to corporate buyouts; the war on crime taking place in our backyards has been overshadowed by the one abroad.

So excitement is no longer what I feel, at times I am disheartened and though we have made some progress, there is more to be done. Every year thousands of young people are being left behind in books they have yet to learn how to read. We can't just create more jobs; we also have to educate the people who will fill those positions. We can't just protect our boarders, when there are people dying right here on our city streets.

Don't get me wrong, I am not one to say that one issue is more important than the other but what I will say is that youth and youth issues can't just be addressed during election time, especially since when we make up such a huge demographic. It's truly entertaining to watch candidates try to engage us every few years, as if our memory is that short.

If a candidates want my vote come November then they have to prove to me that they can do more than give a great speech; we as young people are not so swayed by the lip service, as we are inspired by the actions.

Government is always telling us what they have done or will do for us, we as young people are neither lazy nor uneducated. So don't just ask us what we want you to do, give us a chance to be apart of the change. Want my vote, well engage me beyond election cycles, create a space for me to be apart of the political process and talk about tangible solutions to issues that are impacting my generation. One way to do that is by creating Presidential Youth Council.

A council that will advise the President and his/her staff on issues and concerns that are impacting more than 104 million people between the ages of 16-24 each day, the council should also have a chance to give recommendations on proposed and current legislation. This generation is no longer comfortable with waiting for change to happen, we want to be that change. So when candidates are looking for their next pool of voters, remember that my vote counts, in addition to millions of other young people around the country. We don't just need an "adult" spokesperson but also a listening ear.

My vote counts too!