Colin Kaepernick doesn’t need to justify being politically minded and active, but not voting (“Sorry, Kaepernick – if you don’t vote, your protest loses credibility,” Marcos Breton, Nov. 16).
Voting in America isn’t compulsory. It’s a right that can be exercised, or not. It’s an important way to advocate for political and social change, but not the only way.
Kaepernick has used his celebrity to peacefully bring attention to the issue of police brutality and oppression against people of color. For this, he has been vilified. It’s disturbing to me that this piling on has become mean-spirited, disrespectful and occasionally racist. His stance surely hasn’t been good for what’s left of his career, but he has been steadfast. As comedian D. L. Hughley commented, it’s too bad the people angry at Kaepernick aren’t as upset about the obscene number of shooting deaths of unarmed black men by law enforcement.
Roughly half of Americans don’t vote, so Kaepernick belongs to a pretty sizable demographic. Despite all of the righteous indignation, refusing to stand for the national anthem or to vote doesn’t make him less American.
In fact, many Americans believe our political system is corrupt to the core, overrun with corporate influence and out of touch with the lives of everyday people. Some of these people choose not to vote. In addition, discrimination and intimidation that targets poor and minority voters in some areas of the country is very real.
African Americans put their lives on the line for the right to vote, but also the freedom not to vote if they choose. People of color have been voting for a long time, and yet America is still deeply and systemically racist. And even though working people vote, the wealth inequality gap in this country is wider than it’s ever been. If these issues could be resolved at the ballot box, I think it would have happened by now.
Hillary Clinton received nearly a million more votes than Donald Trump, but lost because that’s how the Electoral College system works. The will of the people was circumvented and is now just a presidential election footnote.
Maybe the Kaepernick haters should be angrier about our defective electoral process and less distressed by the ramifications of choosing not to participate at all.
Detria Thompson is a freelance writer in Sacramento. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.