Grey’s Anatomy star Jesse Williams has joined the growing list of celebrities lending their voices to inspire Americans to take action during the upcoming presidential election, releasing an impassioned PSA in which he says the democratic process “is not about the White House,” but rather “about your house.”
The nonpartisan video sees the 35-year-old seated alone in an office, where he makes a spirited case to U.S. citizens who aren’t planning to cast a ballot on Nov. 8.
“You say, ‘vote,’ and someone says, ‘hey, I’m making a statement by not voting,'” Williams explains. “Then, you say, ‘well, I can’t hear it.’ … If you’re not registered to vote, you can’t sit on that jury. You can’t choose your mayor. You can’t choose your city council. You can’t even choose your district attorney.”
He then implores unregistered adults to consider their loved ones before making the conscious decision to abstain from participating in the upcoming election.
“You can’t decide which measures will help your family and community, and which will put them at risk,” he says of people who avoid the polls. “This government was designed to be changed. You can either make that change or you can take what little they give you. Democracy is not a sham; it’s a job. It’s our job, and it took too goddamned long to get it to just let it slide.”
In the clip’s final moments, Williams turns to the camera: “You say ‘vote,'” he urges viewers, “because there are people who still don’t want you to.”
In July, as he accepted the BET Awards’ 2016 Humanitarian Award, Williams spoke about U.S. government and society as “a system built to divide and impoverish and destroy us,” which he said “cannot stand if we do.”
Following the speech, numerous petitions circulated online, calling for the actor to be fired from his long-running gig on Grey’s Anatomy. Series creator Shonda Rhimes defended the former history teacher on Twitter, writing: “Um, people? Boo don’t need a petition. #shondalandrules.”
Watch Williams’ powerful plea to potential voters here.