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These Greensboro Residents Reflect On Their Identity, Politics After The Election

brayan guevara
Lynn Hey

In the midst of a year fraught with racial injustice and an ongoing pandemic, there has been a glimmer of hope for Brayan Guevara and his mother, Nodia Mena: Joe Biden is now president-elect.

"I feel really good," Guevara said of Biden winning the election. "He's in there for all of the reasons that I want him to be in there for. He's the person that has the best team in my eyes."

Guevara is a 20-year-old Afro Latino teacher and college student. For the past year, he's been sharing his stories of identity and politics as he prepared to vote for the first time.

"It wasn't until my junior year in high school when I realized I should be adding the 'Afro' part to my Latino," he said earlier this year about his Afro Latino identity. "When I was a kid, I'm ignorant. I really don't know that much."

Guevara was undecided on who to vote for all year. He considered himself an independent voter. However, when Biden chose Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate, Guevara was sold because Harris is a woman of color.

"First Black woman vice president," he said. "Well, I got my little intuition that she's going to make things shake, and try and succeed to make the world or the United States a better place."

Guevara is in college to become a teacher. It was easy for him to agree with Biden's plan to increase teachers' pay and help them pay off student loans.

Geuvara comes from a family of educators. His grandparents were teachers in Honduras and his mother, Nodia Mena is a Spanish language instructor at UNC Greensboro.

She also is happy with the election results. Politics is something she wishes she could discuss in the classroom, but she says she's had to stick to her lesson plan. She said if she were a civics instructor, she'd discuss politics much more.

"Politics affects a lot in school, in their education, because whoever is elected to represent that office can affect, for a lot of students, access or the lack of access to educational resources," she said.

Mena and Guevara are Afro Honduran. Mena voted for the first time in Honduras. She said that she didn't think her vote mattered because she was a Garifuna woman.

Garifunas are descendants of an Afro Indigenous population from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. They were then exiled to Honduras and moved to Belize.

Mena said as a Garifuna woman, at 18, she voted for the least likely person to win. But 30 years later, she feels like her vote does matter. She voted for Biden.

"I am glad that the number of people who came out to vote showed that we really wanted a change in whatever is going on right now," she said. "I cannot say that it didn't matter here, just because he didn't win here in North Carolina. But I see in other places how it did matter."

Guevara feels differently.

"I don't think my vote counted because of where I'm placed in the United States, but I think my voice matters," he said. 

As for Guevara's future, he's working toward building his teaching career. He'll transfer to UNCG as a junior in January.

Naomi P. Brown joined WUNC in January 2017.
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