“I Can’t Breathe: ” But One Day We Will Breathe Together”

Community Health Centers are comprehensive primary care providers that began during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

We started at a time of unrest to help fight the war on poverty and oppression in underserved communities. Now here we are in 2020 and we’re still fighting the same fight. Our fight has gone on too long and has created decades of pent up anger, suffering, and what we’re seeing now: rage. 

As the board chair of the Community Health Care Association of New York State, the CEO of the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc. an African American woman, educator and advocate for justice living in these troubling times, I want everyone fighting today to ensure George Floyd’s death and the deaths of all who have come before him to know: WE STAND WITH YOU.

 As human beings, we are the greatest creation on earth. This is a time when our human excellence has to rise up and out work beliefs, behaviors, movements and policies that are designed to oppress our natural instincts to treat each other with respect and dignity.

As primary care providers, we have the responsibility to support underserved communities, we are obligated to stand up and share our voices through our work.

While we are not exempt from the institutional racism that plagues our health care system, we are essential change agents at this time. We must start with ourselves as leaders in this movement. We have the will to guide, educate and build new infrastructures based on an anti-racism framework. I feel that we stand ready to work with everyone at all levels, encouraging inclusivity within our communities to be leaders in addressing the social economic injustices in our systems.

We know that after difficulty, comes ease. In this moment, we have an opportunity to envision a new reality of “justice for all” with the proper guidance, actions, language, and THE SPIRIT TO BREATHE TOGETHER. 


Dr. LaVonne Ansari is  the CEO of the Community Health Center of Buffalo, Inc.