“The question is: ‘What are we going to do with that fear?’”
By Mayor Robb Davis
Following the election there was much concern throughout the community about what this change means. The first response was a candlelight vigil organized quickly by a group of citizens, held in Central Park on November 12, the first Saturday night following the election. With only 3 days’ notice, relying on word of mouth and social media, over 700 people attended this event.
This is a transcription of remarks by invited speaker Mayor Robb Davis submitted by Alan Hirsch.
I’m not sure if we know what’s coming, but we want to remain faithful as representatives of the community. I want to bookend my remarks with two stories.
One is the story of my grandson Jaime. Jaime came home the day after the election. Jaime’s papa is undocumented—my son-in-law. Jaime came home the day after the election and said to my daughter, Mommy, when does Mr. Trump take office? He is in 2nd grade. She said why do you want to know? He said because I want to know when Papa has to go back to Mexico. Jaime is afraid. He has fear. Is Jaime’s fear justified?
Are the fears of our Muslim brothers and sisters—who may not even feel comfortable coming into this space tonight—are they justified? Are the fears of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, are they justified? Are the fears of the immigrants of this nation, some of whom are undocumented, some of whom were born and raised here, are they justified? Are their fears justified? Are the fears of those who are concerned about global climate change and the protection of our planet, are they justified? Are the fears of those who wonder about the unending stream of violence in the world, violence that begets violence and war, are their fears justified?
And I don’t say lightly—I don’t say lightly—that yes: those fears are justified.
I don’t say it lightly because: I cannot—we cannot—succumb to those fears.
But make no mistake, words have consequences and words were spoken, not by accident, not with a slip of the tongue, but words were spoken during this campaign with meaning, with intent and those words have consequences. And the consequences for us today are that we have legitimate fear within our community. We have to acknowledge that.
What are we going to do with that fear is the question before us tonight?
We are going to do three things.
First, we are going to do what we are doing right now. I want you to hold onto someone right now. Just hold on; just hang on. We are going to come together and this is just the first. There will be another in early December where groups that are feeling the most fear are invited to come into safe spaces. We are going to come together, and we are going to renew our commitments to one another as a community: our commitments to love one another, our commitments to honor one another, to honor the differences, to honor the needs. We’re going to make commitments about how we are going to protect the most vulnerable in our community and we’re doing that tonight. And we’ll do it again. And we’ll do it again. And we’ll do it again.
Second, we are going to continue to do what we’re already doing. We’re going to. And I ask you to please consider committing your time to institutions in our community. Yes institutions within our community who are working at the forefront of creating a different kind of community: the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network, the Yolo Conflict Resolution Center, The Phoenix Coalition of Davis, the Yolano Climate Action Group. (I’m going to forget some of the names. Call out some others.) From the crowd: ACLU, AB 540 Center on Campus, Cool Davis, Mosaic Tea, Black Lives Matter, Empower Yolo, Sierra Club, Davis Community Meals and Housing, the Culture Co-op.
Do you see what we have as a community already? These are organizations committed to inclusion, not exclusion, to confronting bullying and hate in our community every single day. We need to move away from our television sets for a while, and we need to join these groups that are making change in our community now. We need to join them; we need to redouble our efforts. We need to continue to do what we’re doing. We have the social capital in our community that many other communities in this nation would dream of. Join them and join our City. We have instituted a diversion program for youth, which is focused on giving youth an alternative called restorative justice. We have within our police force the ability to have alternative conflict resolution.
We have the resources within our community to deal with conflict. If we are going to create a narrative that stands against what we have seen this week and if we are going to deal with the fear, it will be by doing what we are already doing.
Number three, we are going to prepare ourselves. And this is another thing… I don’t want to say this lightly. But we must. Given what we have heard, we must prepare ourselves to resist. Some may feel it is unseemly for an elected official to even suggest that there may be resistance against the State, but that’s what I’m saying. If we find that we’re being asked to compromise our values, if we are being asked to compromise what we hold dear and the commitments we make to one another, to our immigrants, to our gay brothers and sisters, to the Muslims in this community, or to any other group that faces exclusion. Then we will resist and we must prepare ourselves to resist. That resistance cannot be violent, otherwise we are merely mimicking the violence that is being perpetrated now. We have the resources. The Fellowship of Reconciliation, a national organization you may not know, the executive director, Kristin Stoneking, lives among us and can help train us and prepare us. These are the resources we have. This is what we’re going to do.
This is how we’ll face the fear. And I’m confident. I’m confident that we will do this in a way that spreads love from this community to others around us.
I want to finish with a story. This one is even harder to tell than the story of Jaime. So forgive me. The same day Jaime came home and asked his question, my brother wrote one of the most vitriolic, angry screeds, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant. What am I going to do with my brother? What are we going to do with our brothers and sisters in this nation with whom we disagree? Against whom we have some anger and hurt in our hearts? What am I going to do with my brother? And when I thought about that question and when I thought about my anger and all the things I wanted to say to him, it hit me today that not more than 3 weeks ago my brother’s wife had fallen and broken a limb. And I had been too busy to even send her a card wishing her speedy recovery. Where is my love? Where is my love for my brother? And I confess that to you in order to say that we have to have the courage as well to reach across the lines of difference and go into places that we absolutely do not want to go, in order to make peace, in order to bring reconciliation, in order to model the things that bring us to this place tonight. And that’s the hard work before us.
I thank you for coming. I thank you for lighting a candle. There will be more events like this in the coming weeks. Stay tuned. And I want to thank the organizers for putting this together.
Go out to love and serve one another in this community.
A series of community gatherings to discuss the issues raised by Mayor Davis – and actions we can take — are being organized by the Phoenix Coalition at the encouragement of Mayor Robb Davis. The first community gathering will be this Sunday, Dec 4th at 3 pm at the Davis Senior Center at the corner of A Street and 7th. A second is set for the afternoon of January 8th. Walk-in attendees are welcome but to assure space, please RSVP at www.DavisGathering.Eventbrite.com.