Shot Across the Bow

Dear Dr. Kolb:

At the Sept. 1 JCPS board meeting, I heard you say these are historical times and you wanted to see our district do something big toward racial justice. For a moment, I allowed myself to make the mistake, once again, to trust that “if only we could get our message to him, I know he would work with us.” I actually thought there was a shot at partnering with you to achieve the Coalition’s goals. Instead, that next morning, in response to the objection letter Coalition leaders sent to the Board due to our voices continuing to be muzzled, you fired a shot across the bow.

Members of the Coalition for the People’s Agenda, of which I am one of many, feels that this is the perfect opportunity for the district to make meaningful changes to the student-assignment plan. We strive to not only make the plan more equitable, but to repair the trauma and abuse the current plan continues to cause, so the West End community can begin to heal.

Your response to the Coalition for the People’s Agenda was hurtful, yet telling. One, because it disregarded the seven Black men and women who signed the letter before me, as well as those who came (and continue to come) after.

I would like you to ask yourself why numerous BIPOC are coming forward in my defense, yet the people who find it “very difficult for anyone in JCPS to take seriously any communication that is in any way authored or signed by Gay Adelmann” are mostly white, mostly people in positions of power, like yourself? 

You, sir, are someone who holds power over me and the other signers of that letter. You are a white male. You are a doctor. You are an elected official. Yet, I was the eighth name on that letter, and you chose to single me out. You are the one who made this about me. You also showed that your personal biases get in the way of objectively and unemotionally hearing what people are writing to you. 

I hope this Teachable Moment goes viral. Because if it does, I will use my privilege and this platform to continue to elevate the concerns of the many voices who cannot afford to risk being targeted, bullied, lied-on, or lied to any longer. As a white woman, I will continue to put my body in the way of powerful, bureaucratic bullies like you, even if it causes you to feel so threatened you feel the need to name me six times in your reply, while ignoring concerns of marginalized voices, and refusing to attend a meeting where I am in attendance. Do you realize how childish you sound? Remind you of anyone? This isn’t about me. The fact that you tried to make it about me is telling.  

Not only did you disregard the pained pleas from the members of the Black and West End communities, you allowed your bias towards me to cloud your assessment of me objectively, as well.  As a woman, a volunteer, taxpaying citizen and parent of a successful graduate of a West End school, I feel your attacks hit below the belt. Due to the financial harm attacks on my character that continue to be shared by you and “anyone in JCPS” cause to my family, I have responded to the glaring inaccuracies line by line here (link).

You are also an anthropologist, a professor, a father, and a respected social-justice advocate, who has been instrumental in JCPS divesting in SROs and investing in restorative practices. I would like to ask that you use those credentials to reevaluate the initial letter. And then do the same with your response to it. 

Remember, I never disrespected you. I reached out to you for your support of the pledge, and you agreed. Later, when you didn’t understand that I was acting as an ally to Black and a black-led organizations who wanted the tax increase to appear on the ballot so they could continue the negotiations over student assignment and other reasonable demands, you wrongly accused me of “begging” for your support, and then refused my request for a call. I have screenshots.

You then failed to even try to understand The Coalition for the People’s Agenda’s message before sending your unprofessional response that is unbecoming of an elected official. Why? Because it has one name on it that you have allowed yourself to believe everyone in JCPS considers a joke? And who cares if you’re right? Why take it out on the others?

I am not your enemy. I am merely a harbinger of justice. You are next in line in the relay race. We are on the same team. I am handing the baton to you. What happens next is up to you.

Regardless of your feelings for me, please listen to the People. They are also asking that the board support a Resolution for the People’s Agenda at the September 29 business meeting. Include with it a commitment to perform a LIVE REAP on the current student assignment plan, and submit a revised budget that demonstrates a commitment to divesting in security and investing in our most vulnerable students. Thank you.