Colin Kaepernick has been surrounded by controversy ever since he first discussed his decision to take a knee during the National Anthem. It has led to numerous discussions around the NFL, and the country, about things like racism and patriotism. It has resulted in some touchy conversations about a variety of topics.
Things quieted down a bit, but last week, Colin Kaepernick made it clear that he had no plans on voting in the general election. On Tuesday, the Sacramento Bee reported that Kaepernick had never voted in California or in Nevada when he was attending UNR.
Naturally, that got tongues wagging, and the topic was brought up on Tuesday at the weekly starting QB media session. There were four specific questions, the transcriptions of which I have below. Additionally, Tim Kawakami also got a few minutes with Kap to discuss various issues, which he transcribed here.
There has been a lot of criticism about his decision not to vote. His answers are not perfect, and never will be perfect, which leaves people plenty of room to critique what he has done. I don’t know what to say about his time before his awakening (or whatever you want to call it). But with regard to not voting in this current election, it falls in line with some of the historic figures with which he is identifying in his protest of racial injustice.
I won’t pretend to be a racial scholar, but some basic research took me to Malcolm X’s speech (full speech here) called “The Bullet or the Ballot.” In that speech, Malcolm X said, “A ballot is like a bullet. You don't throw your ballots until you see a target, and if that target is not within your reach, keep your ballot in your pocket.”
I’m not going to pretend to be an expert on these kinds of issues. I try and educate myself little by little. My research brought me to a fascinating article that goes into why it makes sense for Kaepernick to not vote. The idea they put forth is that Kaepernick is looking for wholesale change to a system that oppresses people of color:
He’s not calling for a Democratic president or a supermajority. He’s calling for the whole scale demolition of the prejudiced political system. He’s not begging for legislation. He’s demanding a full accounting of law enforcement and the justice system’s White supremacist leanings. Those weren’t on the ballot, and if you believe that incrementalist legislation is the answer, you need to speak to a historian about how well that has gone for Black Americans throughout our time on this continent.
Please at least give that article a read. It’s a fascinating look at a hot button topic. Here are Kaepernick’s comments today:
You were asked about not voting on Sunday. Did you think about voting, maybe not voting for just president and voting for maybe some of the local stuff?
“I thought a lot of different things about the process and what I could and couldn’t do. Once again, the system of oppression is what I have an issue with.”
It’s been reported that you’ve never registered to vote. Is that just because you haven’t--?
“Once again, I addressed that and continue to address that. I don’t agree with the system of oppression and that’s something that I will continue to not agree with.”
A lot of guys your age, especially people of color, feel the same way. Do you think that’s one of the reasons why a lot of young people didn’t vote this last election?
“I can’t say. You would have to ask them that. I don’t want to speak for anybody or put anybody in a situation where I’m not representing them properly. So, I really can’t say.”
I have another voting question. I understand what you said and I get that. People will respond or have responded and said, but you want to, you’re advocating for change and one way to do that is to vote. There are measures that effect communities and that is one way to effect change. What would you say to that?
“There’s more than one way to create change.”