Hero to Goat: By Not Voting, Kaepernick Lost Credibility

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Kaepernick -- took a knee in voting

[Commentary]

"I've been very disconnected from the systematic oppression as a whole," Kaepernick told reporters in a conference call last Wednesday. "So, for me, it's another face that's going to be the face of that system of oppression.

"And to me, it didn't really matter who went in there, the system still remains intact that oppresses people of color." –Colin Kaepernick explaining why he didn’t vote in the presidential election.

Few moments in my lifetime have been as disappointing as watching my country elect Donald Trump to the office of President of the United States. Although disappointing, it was not unexpected.

Many factors pointed to a Trump victory; wide spread voter suppression efforts sponsored by Republicans, a large portion of the White electorate that had been driven by Fox News to believe that its religion, guns, personal rights and country were being systematically taken from them, and a Democratic candidate that while extremely qualified, had been marginalized years ago by the Republicans.

What is even more disappointing to me than Trump winning the election is the attitude expressed by Colin Kaepernick and some other young people of color who can speak to everything that’s wrong with our country, but refuse to participate in the single most important act that can bring about the change they claim they desire.

Data from Survey Monkey shows that while Millennials, defined as people between the ages of 18-34, voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton, not enough of them voted.

Voting isn’t an “ol’ skool” notion. Particularly for Black folks, the idea of voting isn’t limited to archival footage of Selma.

Because of the work done by their predecessors, young people of color, such as Kaepernick can peacefully assemble to express themselves without fear of being imprisoned, bitten by dogs, beaten by the police or even killed. Much of that work involved protesting, voting out their oppressors and voting in agents of change. The sacrifice of blood, sweat and many lives taken forced our legislative and legal systems to recognize the rights of Black people.

Remember Ferguson, Missouri? A quick look at their web site shows that three out of six Council members are now Black. In addition, Ferguson now has a Human Rights Commission. The point is that action must come after protest. Without a plan of action designed to create the change you desire, you’re no more than an amusing irritant to those in power.

I was a huge supporter of Kaepernick’ s right to take a knee during the National Anthem in protest of the unequal treatment of people of color under the law. I am now sickened by his inaction at a time when he had the opportunity to vote for change and encourage others to do likewise. It would not have mattered to me if he chose to vote for a third party candidate; but not voting should not have been an option.

Power in America comes through the vote. Why else would Republicans invest so much money, time and energy into making it so hard for minorities to vote? According to a study by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, voters had at least 868 fewer polling locations throughout the South on November 8.

Many of these closings had a disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities. These efforts to suppress the votes of minorities combined with the type of lethargy displayed by Kaepernick were part of the recipe Trump supporters were relying on to “Get Their Country Back.”

Kaepernick went on to say about the election: "It was embarrassing to watch that these are our two candidates. Both are proven liars, and it almost seems like they're trying to debate who's less racist."

He added: "And at this point---you have to pick the lesser of two evils. But in the end, it's still evil."

Kaepernick is entitled to his opinion. However, he has an obligation to know what the hell he’s talking about. He has a responsibility to invest time into developing a better understanding of Black History and how black people worked within the framework of the Constitution to evoke social, political and economic change.

As a lawyer, Clinton worked on civil rights cases. As a developer, Donald Trump was sued for housing discrimination. There is no debate on “who’s less racist."

By having even the slightest knowledge of our system of government, Kaepernick should understand how Republican control of the White House, Senate and House of Representatives will have a direct impact on how this country handles Black Lives Matter protests, not to mention Black lives, moving forward.

Arch-right winger Rudolph Giuliani is positioning himself to be Trump’'s Attorney General. Giuliani has already labeled Black Lives Matter protestors as “inherently racist” and has called for the return of “stop and frisk” policies, even though “stop and frisk” was ruled unconstitutional.

All of which brings us to the fact that Kaepernick and other of like-minded should be more focused on the end game.

Donald Trump will appoint at least onw and possibly three new justices to the Supreme Court. A bit of research by Kaepernick may have uncovered the type of Supreme Court appointees already mentioned by Trump versus the type of appointments a President Clinton would have made.

If Kaepernick and other young people are disillusioned now, just wait until they get a load of what'’s in store for issues such as affirmative action, women’s productive rights and LGBT rights under a court full of right-wing ideologues.

Standing for change can be harder than taking a knee against the status quo. By taking a knee when it came time to vote, Kaepernick has rendered himself persona non-grata.

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