Gwen Jorgensen: "Make it count. Use your voice. Vote."

Every four years I ask for help. Your cheers. Your support. Your faith. Even your money. Today that stops. I’ve been asking for the wrong thing. It took the Olympics being canceled. COVID being present. More Black and Brown lives being killed. But, I’ve finally realized what I really need from you: for you to vote.

Sport gave me confidence and a voice. It took persistence, hard work, dedication, failing, succeeding, and failing again, to realize what I say and do matters. The great thing about living in America is you don’t have to be an Olympic Gold medalist with over 1 million YouTube views to have a voice. You can vote! You can make change.

I’m still training for the Olympics. I get one chance every four years to prove myself at the Olympics. I did that in 2012 and 2016 and will try again in 2021. Voting, as in sport, holds the pinnacle event once every four years. As an athlete, I don’t just show up once. I show up every time there is an opportunity to race.

That’s why in the wake of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, I, along with my peers at Athletes for Impact, joined the Community Justice Action Fund and numerous Wisconsin community-based organizations to launch Invest In Us Wisconsin. The purpose of the campaign is to hold the police officers who killed Jacob accountable and to significantly invest in prevention and intervention. As an athlete, a mother, and a person committed to improving our world, I know I have to show up and make my voice heard.

Under-investment in programs and resources that deter crime is a Wisconsin issue. It’s an issue that can be solved by voting. Milwaukee spends $297,366,419 each year on policing, while less than 1% of annual funding is put toward community violence intervention programs. Despite the disproportionate allocation of taxpayer dollars toward law enforcement, in 2020 the city has suffered the most homicides in 30 years, with Black and Brown Milwaukeeans accounting for 83% of those homicide victims.

This election is too important for any of us to sit on the sidelines. That’s why I’ve made an early voting plan and am voting by mail to ensure that my vote is counted. Although I appreciate the cheers and support, what I would appreciate more would be for all of us to exercise our right to vote. It’s a race we can all be a part of. Make it count. Use your voice. Vote.

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Photo Credit: Talbot Cox