Mr. Cannon, I share in your frustrations with this election cycle, particularly the point that neither party has really embraced the #BlackLivesMatter movement or its principles, chief among them, police accountability and the destruction of white supremacist systems. Also, I truly understand why you think “ain’t sh*t gonna change” no matter the candidate elected. But, Mr. Cannon, my solidarity with you ends at the point where you call for Americans to withhold their vote until “black lives matter.”
Mr. Cannon, you’re a celebrity and your voice is very influential; your words and actions have power beyond your comprehension. This political stance you’ve taken – though born from a sincere place of rebellion against a system that throughout history has reiterated with policies and indifference to suffering that black lives, let alone all lives, don’t matter – is a bit irresponsible and counter-intuitive to the outcome you and others speaking against injustice desire.
After you told Mr. Howard Stern on Monday about your plan for civic disengagement, Mr. Hawk Newsome, a Black Lives Matter activist, issued the same call to his comrades, using language almost identical to yours: “Neither party has stepped to the front and made Black Lives Matter a priority.”
It’s the belief of both of you that withdrawing from the process will force politicians – who, to be clear, are motivated to act solely by votes – to address police brutality; this idea is, well, illogical.
Most politicians depend on low voter turnout; they silently hope for the disillusionment of citizens, as that will decrease the probability that anyone will attempt to hold them accountable. Mr. Cannon, Mr. Newsome, your decisions not to vote is playing into the very hands that control the racist system(s) you aim to reform, or destroy and rebuild.
If you stay away from the polls in November and long after that, what leverage then do you have to force change? And, more importantly, what then will be the incentive for politicians to address your legitimate concerns about police brutality?
Not voting, in America, indeed makes you invisible and inaudible; in this country, your voice, and the right to use it, is linked to your vote. Mr. Cannon, what I believe would be more effective is if you, a wealthy entertainer who’s currently hosting NBC’s ‘America’s Got Talent,’ put up a portion of your riches as an endowment to a PAC that supports activist candidates who are committed to addressing the problems you and your allies illuminate.
Can you imagine, Mr. Cannon, running a slate of progressive, young, black candidates in America’s top 10 biggest cities who, by their presence alone on the campaign trail, will force the other contenders for elected office to speak to the issue of police brutality and accountability? Leaning in, at this critical time in history, would be much more appropriate than opting out.
And, Mr. Cannon, your claim that regardless of the candidate elected nothing will change isn’t quite true. Circumstances might not get a whole lot better immediately, but if the country elects Mr. Trump, the law-and-order candidate who believes the American police officer should be given more powers, the movement you align with, and the policies proposal you wish to see materialize, will be dead-on-arrival.
Look, I understand that voting alone won’t bring about black liberation; and, I admit that there’s no way that legislation alone can end white supremacy, but voting has a role in a theory of change. For example, do you want a specific type of police commissioner overseeing the department? Well, you have to first VOTE IN the right type of Mayor. Unhappy that police aren’t being prosecuted for their malfeasance? VOTE IN a new District Attorney. Disgusted by the laws that police are required to enforce? Well, you must then VOTE IN new lawmakers.
Mr. Cannon and Mr. Newsome, I’m aware that you both next week will be in my City, Philadelphia, for the Democratic National Convention. I invite you to sit down with me, over cheesesteaks, soft pretzels and Peanut Chews, to discuss how to advance your agenda through politician participation, because it can, indeed, be done.
I’d even be willing to leverage the resources of my news and event company, Techbook Online – which is the largest, and most active, publisher on Comcast’s www.PhillyinFocus.com and which reaches a global audience via an Apple News channel – to push the messaging of the activist candidates you fund.
Change is possible, but it’s not an entitlement, it’s something you have to chase with rigor. Change will certainly not come from sitting on the sidelines… sh*t has never changed unless people power forced it to. Mr. Cannon, Mr. Newsome, we are the people and, despite the popular narrative, we do have power, and a large portion of said power rest within our vote.
If the goal is to get black lives to matters to others, we must show they matter to us by honoring the black lives lost fighting for our right to vote. Mr. Cannon, Mr. Newsome, please reconsider your current stance; the movement needs your vote and political participation.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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Photos courtesy of the author.