This year our celebrities seemed to be “woke AF” and we were all here for it. We cheered in awe as Jesse Williams addressed systematic oppression in the most eloquent way at the BET awards. We lost our minds when Beyoncé got in formation and stormed the Super Bowl with an army of Black women in leather with afros. We ran out and added HBO to our subscription plan and subscribed to Tidal when Beyoncé went on to drop a blackity Black visual album celebrating Black women and Southern Black culture. We were chanting “We Gon’ Be Alright” all summer long and bobbing our heads in tune with Kendrick. And when Colin Kaepernick took a knee, we were right there with him. Ready to challenge anyone that had something negative to say about his form of protest. We wrote think pieces on what Colin’s “take a knee” approach meant. We called out our fellow African Americans and labelled them coons for not supporting him. We threw our remotes at Fox news and drug Tomi Lahren for challenging his right to protest.
And just like that, y ‘all are done with Kaepernick. Now his taking a knee means absolutely nothing because he had the audacity to say that he didn’t vote. He started the season off protesting a system that he doesn’t believe in, and now the very people that were cheering him on are condemning him for not voting in said system. He does one thing we don't agree with and we collectively throw him to the wolves. Black people have begun to turn their backs on him because he doesn't share the same faith in voting, which he believes is a part of the same system of oppression that he's protesting. But why is anyone surprised that Kaepernick didn’t vote? It’s not as if he led a political campaign where he supported presidential candidates and then decided at the last minute to drop his support. Plenty of celebrities went out and voted but have done little else to make change in their communities. Many of Kaepernick’s critics only voted during the presidential election but couldn’t tell you each candidate’s platform nor the last time they voted during midterm elections.
How can we discard him so quickly as if the initiatives that he has spearheaded aren’t enough? Did we forget about him donating $1 million of his NFL earnings to charities that help communities in need? Or him donating all the proceeds from his jersey sales to charity? What about him hosting the “Know Your Rights” youth camp for children of color in Oakland, CA? What he is actually contributing to communities is just as valuable as a vote, if not more so. There’s no middle ground when it comes to our support of celebrities, we either love them or we hate them. We don’t appreciate our leaders until they reach martyrdom and then we grant them sainthood. We can be critical of someone’s actions without completely condemning the individual. We are not always going to agree on the methods in which we reach social justice but we don’t have to throw the baby out with the bathwater.