“I can’t breathe” is a plea that I never want to hear again.
But as I sit here hunkered down due to this pandemic, looking at the Black Lives Matter protest movement, it has given me the opportunity to have flashbacks to the 1960s, 1980s and many more occasions where we have asked for fair treatment by those in charge.
I ran for the Indianapolis Public Schools board to ensure that all children would receive a quality education, but due to systemic racism, our Black children still have disproportionately received the inequities that it brings. We continue to show an academic gap between them and white students. Our Black males and females are more apt to be suspended or expelled at a higher percentage.
These are the things that have been going on for years, and only empty promises have been made to make them go away.
Who has their knee on their neck? We tell our Black students that they will need to work hard, but sometimes before they get to school they encounter the realization of “I can’t breathe.” After graduation, there are little or no scholarships or jobs which would enable them the ability to live a quality life. We will no longer ask but demand that our elected officials provide them the resources, laws and accommodations they ensure other students.
Their parents vote, work and pay taxes for the same things their other classmates have, so they too deserve the same.
Black Lives Matter does not mean that all lives do not matter. It does mean, however, that at this time and from now on the attention from the world is saying enough is enough. We want to breathe now with no promises but action.
As a board member I will unceasingly work to ensure that teachers, administrators, lawmakers and city and state officials know that our Black children will not accept empty promises anymore. We cannot and will not wait to breathe another day for equity in the education they each deserve.
We have got to make a change in this country; the culture of racism breeds inequality in our educational system.
As we go to vote, think of who you want to take their knee off your neck, and do not vote for them.
I am writing to breathe for our children who are on ventilators. Black lives do matter because no 5-year-old child should have to ask any police, “Are you going to arrest me?” or spend time out of school for a minor occurrence.
Elizabeth Gore an at-large member of the Indianapolis Public Schools board.