In the aftermath of the boycott of Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Dallas Mavericks have pledged seven days of ACTION! to combat racial injustices around the country, and to bring attention to, lead change and invest in organizations fighting racial disparities and inequities in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
The seven days will touch on a variety of issues, including:
ADVOCACY: The Mavs and American Airlines Center announced that Election Day, Nov. 3, the home of the Mavs and the Dallas Stars will also serve as the home of the largest polling place in Dallas County for people to vote.
COMMUNICATION: Michael Finley, the Mavs’ vice-president of basketball operations, leads The Huddle, which is a monthly gathering to unite, listen and learn with a diverse group of former and current players, team representatives and community figures. The group will have various courageous conversations.
TRAINING: The Mavs have created an internal offering to employees called Experiences of Understanding, which features small group conversations and a speaker series. Upcoming speakers include Olympic gold medalists Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Allyson Felix, and Dr. Eddie Glaude and Jane Elliott.
INVESTMENT: Alongside coach Rick Carlisle, the Mavs Foundation pledges $200,000 to support Mothers Against Police Brutality, an organization that is the voice for victims of police brutality and deadly force. The donation benefits MAPB’s Fellowship Program and their mission to fight for police accountability, policy reform and civil rights.
OUTREACH: The Mavs, WNBA’s Dallas Wings, NBA 2K’s Mavs Gaming and G League’s Texas Legends have formed a partnership to promote and encourage civic engagement in the awareness of voter registration and education to the DFW community. The objective of the DFW Voter Alliance is to amplify DFW citizen’s voices in both the national and local elections for the present and the future.
NOISE: Leveraging music as a vehicle to loft voices, shift perspectives, share messages and advance change, Truth To Power serves to create a more equitable, unified and inspired common culture. The Mavs will support Mavs broadcaster Jeff “Skin” Wade and Eastwood Music Group’s produced album which benefits the House of Blues Music Forward Foundation and DFW’s Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurship.
!: As part of the Back To School support, the Mavs pledge a $1,000,000 Personal Protection Equipment donation to the Dallas Independent School District. The donation will cover PPE for every DISD student (155,000), teacher (12,000) and staff member (12,000), and includes face shields, reusable masks, hand sanitizer pumps, antibacterial wipes and personal hand sanitizer units.
“We launched the Mavs Take Action plan back in June with so much social unrest, and really wanted to support many different programs and commitment to listen, learn and unite,” said Katie Edwards, who is the president of the Mavs Foundation. “Following the boycott of the (NBA) playoffs we thought it was important to take seven days of action as part of that Mavs Take Action! plan.
“One of those days is around investment – a financial commitment to support programming to promote social justice and address racial inequities in our community. The $200,000 gift to MAPB along with the $25,000 gift for Project Unity is to support programs that push for change in police policies and help heal racial divides in our city. But also support Mothers Against Police Brutality Fellowship Program, which will support moms and families of victims.”
Edwards also touched on the Back To School initiatives the Mavs are engaged with that provides very meaningful assistance to the DISD.
“Back to School has always been a program of the Dallas Mavericks,” Edwards said. “We want to support our education systems and our teachers and our students.
“But especially right now during COVID, we want to do everything we can to make sure that students and teachers are safe, but also address educational disparities and help schools that need it most. So, we’re thrilled to be able to provide the masks and hand sanitizers and all of those critical things to help everyone stay safe as they go back to school.”
Mavs center Dwight Powell is aware of the prominent role he and his teammates should assume in the community where they live, work and play.
“It’s always been bigger than basketball, especially for us in Dallas,” Powell said. “I think we’ve always been very aware of the support that our community provides us, and we wouldn’t be able to play this game without our fans, without our families and our communities.
“So to see them struggling, to see black and brown people losing their lives to police brutality and the system standing as it is, it’s crucial that we understand that there are things more important than basketball, even if you are a professional basketball player and you’ve dedicated your life to this sport.”
Carlisle discussed the ways which the Mavs met with Mothers Against Police Brutality founder Collette Flanagan.
“In our city, since we formed Coaches For Racial Justice, I’ve worked with Jamahl Mosley from my staff, Stephen Silas from my staff, and Dwight Powell – along with Collette Flannagan from Mothers Against Police Brutality,” Carlisle said. “We’ve met the mayor, we’ve met with T. C. Broadnax, the city manager, we’ve met with Chief Renee Hall. We talk to them about our immediate desire to have their eight really important policies, with regard to policing called 8 Can’t Wait.
“The metrics say that when all eight things are in place, that the police brutality decrease exponentially. And so, as we get into this, Dallas only had four of the eight things in place. And there were four additional ones. Our conversations and emails and work with Collette — three of those four things are now in place. So Dallas now has seven out of eight positive policies relative to police brutality in a good place. The last thing that needs to be addressed is a ban on shooting at moving vehicles. That would be the eighth thing, and that’s the next thing that we’re going for.”
In the meantime, Powell is behind the idea of American Airlines Center being used as a polling site for the Nov. 3 election.
“You’re still living in this country and reaping the fruits of this nation, but we also have to help grow this nation in any way we can to make it a better, safer place for everyone,” Powell said. “But Dallas in particular, I’m very excited that Mark is for sure one of the most supportive owners of us as players in this fight in everything that we’re doing, but also in his own right he’s trying to find ways to affect change in Dallas and in the U.S. at large. So, for us having one of the biggest polling centers in Dallas County where anyone from Dallas County can come and vote is huge.
“It’s huge because if you want to effect real change it’s going to happen at the polls, and that’s not just the presidential polls. But that’s local elections and all of us not only getting registered to vote and voting, but trying our best to educate ourselves on who we’re voting for and how we want to shape our nation.”
Edwards also is delighted to see American Airlines Center as a voting destination.
“I think we want to do everything we can to make sure that everyone has a chance to use their voice and vote,” she said. “And we are thrilled to be a part of the American Airlines Center providing their space as the largest polling location in Dallas County where any registered voter in Dallas County can vote. Hopefully we’ll have lines out the door of people who want to come and vote on Nov. 3.”
Carlisle said he’s proud of the Mavs’ relationship with Mothers Against Police Brutality and its fellowship program.
“When people are focused on a task or a set of tasks, and they’re steadfast and they’re sincere, good things can happen,” he said. “But you cannot let up on the accelerator.
“Racism, systemic oppression, police brutality issues, they don’t just go away. The pressure has got to stay on. As coaches, we’re in this for the long haul. It was clear to me yesterday from our meeting with the players and the governors that the players and ownership are in this struggle and fight for the long haul, and that’s what this is all about.”