Calling to reflect on the failings of the United States’ electoral system, which is said to be “structurally racist,” basketball star LeBron James embarked on the fight to mobilize black voters with the November presidential election in sight.
“It’s time for us to finally change things”: LeBron James’ announcement at New york times fell in the heat of historic anger in the United States against police violence and racism, caused by the death of George Floyd.
But also after an election day marked by long queues in Georgia, a southern state with a segregationist past.
“Everyone is talking about ‘how are we going to deal with this’. They say “go vote?” And if we wondered if the way we vote is also structurally racist, “launched the NBA star Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday on Twitter.
He was commenting on an article citing “Black Voters Matter” co-founder LaTosha Brown, who claimed to have waited three hours to vote in Georgia while “white voters” return (have) quietly “in the polling stations.
“Prevent you from voting”
With the association “More Than a Vote”, which he will finance, LeBron James hopes, accompanied by other sportsmen, to push African-American voters to massively go to the polls on November 3, when Donald Trump will run for a second term against Democrat Joe Biden.
But also to fight anything that could hinder their access to the ballot boxes.
“We’ll explain how to vote and point out what they’re doing on the other side to keep you from voting,” said NBA legend, who has over 136 million social media followers. .
Already known for his political commitment, “King James”, who had supported Hillary Clinton in 2016, made his first such frank foray behind the scenes.
Through his LeBron James Family foundation, the basketball player was already funding the university studies of high school students from disadvantaged neighborhoods, where he himself is from, and had set up a school support program.
“I hope that one day people will consider me not only for the way I envisioned basketball but also for the conception I had of life as an African American man,” he said. it entrusted to New york times.
“Steal” the election
In November, the Americans will elect not only their president but also the members of the House of Representatives, a third of the Senate, a dozen governors and thousands of local elected officials. What, potentially, change the balance of power in the country.
And the mobilization of black voters, who plunged in 2016, will be key.
Several progressive organizations have for years denounced the “obstacles” which hinder their participation in certain States, in particular the type of papers required, the difficulties of voting by mail or simply to register on the electoral lists, in addition to the long hours of waiting in some neighborhoods.
These obstacles particularly hit minorities, who often vote democrats, they say. And expectations are now heightened by the precautionary measures imposed in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.
One such organization, Fair Fight, said it looked forward to working with LeBron James to “protect the right to vote for black voters.”
In Georgia, the Republicans in power rejected these accusations and affirmed that the responsibility for the “unacceptable” situation in certain districts on Tuesday fell on the local organizers, therefore sometimes Democrats.
Joe Biden said this week that his “biggest concern” was to see restrictions multiply to curb participation, especially because of statements by rival Donald Trump casting doubt on the validity of newsletters sent by mail, including the usage is expected to increase due to the pandemic.
“The president will try to steal this election,” the former vice president said bluntly on Wednesday. “Ridiculous” charges, retorted the White House.
“The period leading up to the November election is going to be one of extreme upheaval and hardship,” wrote Myrna Pérez, of the Brennan Center for Justice research center, recently.
And to warn: “If the risk of the Covid-19 will undoubtedly push more voters to send their ballot by mail, certain groups, more typically people of color, are counting on the polling stations”.