Los Angeles Sparks guard and three-time All-Star Chelsea Gray teamed up with the organization Equality California to host “A Vote for Social Justice Reform,” a discussion on voting.
Gray spoke with Equality California Managing Director Tony Hoang, Sparks center and two-time league MVP Candace Parker, and Rock the Vote President and Executive Director Carolyn DeWitt for the Facebook Live event.
Gray and the L.A. Sparks donated $100 for every assist she made during the 2020 WNBA season to the organizations Rock the Vote and Equality California. During the event, she announced she ultimately made a $11,600 donation.
“I’m very happy about that, wish we could have raised more,” Gray said. “I love being able to affect the future generations of this world.”
The discussion touched upon voter suppression, the history of voting in America, the importance of recruiting others to vote, and the 2020 Census.
Voter suppression has taken on more subtle methods throughout the years; sometimes citizens take part without even knowing, according to DeWitt.
“What people don’t realize is a Supreme Court decision in 2013 took away that power in that Voting Rights Act of 1965 and has left us very vulnerable,” DeWitt said. “It means that we actually need to show up and overwhelm the system in this election and demand that we fix our system.”
Citizen should not only participate in presidential elections, but midterms and local elections. Local elections impact the day-to-day lives of citizens. Hoang stressed the importance of holding elected officials accountable after citizens vote them in.
“If you care about police brutality, look at your local elections,” Hoang said. “District Attorneys, city councils, those are the folks that are working with the police unions.”
While the WNBA dedicated their 2020 season to social justice, the league has always been on the forefront of fighting for equality.
“We’ve been in the communities and we’ve been fighting for the people,” Parker said. “We are a league that is the majority of the minority of this country, so it’s our job to make things right and use our platform and use our voice.”
During the quarantine, Parker read books about historical events realizing that women’s suffrage and the Civil Rights Act did not happen too long ago.
“You start thinking 1965, my parents were the same age as my daughter right now,” Parker said. “It’s not even a generation ago that people actively could within laws—and they still can today—prevent you from voting because what you look like, who you go home with and it just blows my mind that we really live in a democracy that still does that today.”
The Census takes a head count of all people living in the United States once every 10 years. Participating in the Census gives communities the funding and power it needs to thrive regardless if the people who live there are U.S. citizens or not, according to DeWitt.
“If there’s a household of five people that’s not counted, that is translated into about $100,000 that that community loses out on,” DeWitt said. “Counts are used then to draw political maps … and it’s not just congressional maps, but its distribution at all levels of government.”
People who are 16 and older can become poll workers, this is a way for people who are too young to vote to get involved. To learn more about the propositions and candidates on the 2020 ballot, visit https://www.rockthevote.org/.