Emotions are definitely high after an election upset that has the whole nation reeling. Some people are happy about it while most aren’t. The thought of Donald J. Trump being the next president of the United States is mind blowing. A lot of folks have something to say, and looking back over the situation, my “two cents” is directed towards those who didn’t vote; in particular at the black celebrities who encouraged black people to stay at home on November 8th. That was, is and will always be a mistake.
Colin Kaepernick is one of the celebrities who has taken a stand against the treatment of black and brown people in America. I am all for his kneeling if that is what he’s led to do because, hey, no one said you had to stand for the pledge. Why show respect for a flag that you don’t feel represents you? He has even put his wallet where his mouth is by vowing to donate money to various charities. These are all great gestures that show just how serious he is about helping to heal black folks in America. Even with all of this, nonetheless, his decision to forgo voting is a poor one, and anyone who believes that they are doing their country a service by not casting their vote is ill informed.
Kaepernick’s message is undermined by his refusal to vote. To say that black people are not valued in this country and then turn around and not value the chance he has to make a difference in areas that directly affects us is negligent. He has to understand his influence and know that everything he does, those who see him as a glimmer of hope for the cause, will follow suit. The last thing we needed were people not voting in the most important election of many folks’ lifetime. Proclaiming their unwillingness to vote is a misjudgment that many black celebrities have.
Here’s the thing- Nick Cannon, Kaepernick and others on the “no voting” train aren’t affected like other black people in society. Period. I appreciate their wanting to take a stand and say something, but when it comes down to it, the things that Trump and his administration plan to do won’t really hit home for them the way that it will for us common folk. For instance, if the president- elect does somehow manage to repeal the Affordable Care Act, that will affect me directly because my diabetic mother will no longer have access to the medical care that she needs. And I’m pretty sure that these famous people out here leading people away from the polls aren’t going to give me thousands of dollars if my mother needs a procedure that she can’t get because she no longer has health insurance. It’s actually pretty arrogant for them to take such a stance. It communicates to me that they are out of touch with the people that look to them. How dare they trick individuals into believing that their vote doesn’t count or that we shouldn’t vote because America doesn’t want us anyway? Come on guys! This is one of the only ways that we can actually change things in our favor. How can they or anyone else who agrees with them not see that? Maybe I am missing something.
For those of us who are upset by the election’s outcome, we are pissed because we understand the difference the estimated 46.9% of eligible voters who didn’t vote could have made had they taken their asses to the polls. Yes, half of the 231,556,622 Americans that could have had their voices heard didn’t and why? Because they didn’t think that it meant anything? They are sorely mistaken.
I do believe that even if half of the people that didn’t vote voted on Tuesday, things would be different. But this is what happens when folks think that they are the only ones. They say to themselves, “If I don’t vote it doesn’t matter because I am just one person, my vote is nothing.” But when you have several million thinking the same thing, that shit adds up.
As a black female millennial in America today, I cherish my right to vote. I am convinced that we owe it to our ancestors. Real talk, I don’t see how you can be pro black and not vote. It is a slap in the face of the people who, not even 60 years ago, went through hell to have their names counted. If for no other reason, you should get out and vote because of that. How selfish.
Kaepernick has good intentions, but if he’s going to invoke images of Malcolm X and make the civil rights activist’s name be more than a trendy symbol in pop culture, then he has to see the big picture. He needs to revisit the man’s speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet” and revamp his approach.
We have the opportunity to exercise our voices on issues through a democratic process, however flawed, and it’s a travesty when we don’t