I appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself as an advisor of the Cultural Awareness and Social Inclusion (“CASI”) Committee through this blog. My name is G. Muir Davis, please call me Muir. I am sixty years old, I am an applied mathematician, I am a city councilmember, and I have lived in La Verne most of my life. La Verne is my hometown. La Verne has been home to my parents and their parents too. For my CASI introductory blog I will first draw your attention to the fact that I am a redhead. I was born in Elgin, Illinois, the first redhead in the line for my dad’s dad, my grandfather C. Ernest Davis; I was told that I got his red hair. My grandfather had 5 children and 10 grandchildren before I showed up as a redhead. The nurses told my mom that I was a redhead when I was first born. My mom’s family had little history with red hair, and I was bald, so she asked the nurse how she could tell. The nurse told her that my hair color was evident in the color and nature of my skin. Apparently, it was obvious, yet photos of my early years do not reveal my red hair.
I am white.
I am female.
I was born in La Verne.
I went to Kinder, Elementary School, Jr. High, High School, and college in La Verne.
My first job was in La Verne at Hillcrest Retirement Community. Now, I work at the University of La Verne.
You might say I’m a native to this little corner of Mayberry – a LaVerneite through and through.
Why am I overjoyed that La Verne is taking action to address unwelcome and racial injustice in the city?
Because it is here. It exists.
If you are white, like me, this experience may escape your view. You may even disagree with me. I was unaware for all of my childhood and early adulthood that racial injustice and social unwelcome were part of our city. That's one of the privileges of being white. We don't know about prejudice and unequal treatment. We might even argue that it doesn’t exist.
I, too, was oblivious. I was a part of the dominant culture, so experiences and awareness of unwelcome and injustice were hidden from my view. That is until I started to date a black man. Then I married this black man, and we had two black children in this little Mayberry. This was when I began to see a new side of La Verne.
When the city council decided to endorse the CASI (Cultural Awareness and Social Inclusion) committee, it had been operating for a year and a half. Then numerous events such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have broken open our country’s awareness of the injustices faced by our brothers and sisters of color. The city wanted something to show that it was against the hatred and ugliness of those events. So, it grabbed onto us and what we stood for.
Be careful what you ask for.
This may be a political move that makes us all feel like we are on the “right side” of things and that we are "doing something, "but this committee is more than a panacea that will absolve our shocked and perhaps guilty feelings. This committee has plans for the beautiful City of La Verne.
We want this city to feel inclusive to all who walk the lanes, shop the stores, and drive the streets. If you're white, like me, you are probably thinking, "Well, that is already happening here! La Verne IS a city of welcome! This is why I moved to La Verne because it feels safe and hospitable."
Yes, it does… to some of us, but not all.
Not sure if I’m telling the truth? Ask a person of color.
I mean it.
(I really wanted to write, "I dare you," but I'm worried about how you'll take it. So instead, I'll write, "I double dare you!")
CASI has been giving lots of thought to how to create a city of wide welcome and inclusion. We’ve been dreaming and scheming. We have a website: #DiverseLaVerne. We even got a little Community Wellness Grant from Tri-City Mental health for two student interns to help us advocate and educate for these worthy dreams.
Keep an eye out for new things on the horizon.
And join us for a meeting or two: it's the first Wednesday of the month at 4 pm.
We throw our welcome door wide for you!