Recently, discussions have been circulated regarding communications between the “Voices for Change” parent group and the BOE.  Some have been extremely negative and others wildly misleading and inaccurate.  Specifically, items have been falsely linked to BOE candidate, Ramya Kasthuri,  and moreover in a negative fashion.

As one of the black constituents of the “Voices for Change” who reached out to open up a dialogue with the BOE and to have our voices heard, I would like to outline and clarify the purpose of our BOE communication exchange.

The success of the June 7th March for Black Lives organized by GL alumni and current students helped catalyze an intense interest in addressing racial justice within our community and our school system.  Nevertheless, we believed there was still a great need for the voices and experiences of Black families to be heard and represented in proposed solutions.  A pain point for us was the history of our children who have faced numerous incidences of racism (in the schools and community) and have had long term social, mental, and emotional impacts which were shared with the BOE.

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Consequently, we have experienced, at times, failures within our school system to address these issues and make our children feel safe and valued. Our children have experienced inequities in the education curricula where they are not taught the contributions and experiences of Black people throughout American history. They have experienced inequities in disciplinary policy such as being late for school having greater repercussions than when a student uses a racial slur (i.e. the “N” word) against them. Lastly, we have experienced our children feeling afraid of the backlash for speaking up on incidences of bigotry and racism. As a result, they go into survival mode and keep the pain and humiliation to themselves.

Again, the organizers of the June 7th march began with a call to action in response to violence and anti-Black racism. This led to a commitment for healing not only for themselves but for others, while working alongside allies. These young people wanted our help in establishing a culture where each person feels seen, heard, and supported. This was the basis of the BOE communications which conveyed our strong desire to work alongside the BOE, Dr. Varley and local partners committed to the same mission and goal.

I fail to comprehend and understand how advocating for positive change and a child’s security would be viewed as a negative in our community, as some discussion posts have demonstrated.  Furthermore, I would hope all BOE candidates and their supporters would agree on this simple point.