When Arvada resident Nancy Felix tells her friends of color she lives in Arvada, they frequently call the city an unflattering nickname in telling her why they don’t want to visit her there. …
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When Arvada resident Nancy Felix tells her friends of color she lives in Arvada, they frequently call the city an unflattering nickname in telling her why they don’t want to visit her there.
“They call Arvada Aryanvada,” said Felix. “There is just this feeling that folks who are different are not welcome in Arvada. That’s something Arvada needs to figure out how to overcome.”
The issue of how welcoming Arvada is to people of color and how it could become more so was returned to time and again during the second community conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion on Oct. 8.
The hour-long discussion, which took place over Zoom, was attended by about 25 residents and city leaders who had the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences about how the city can become more inclusive of people of color.
“We’re all here because we are invested in making our better, the very best place to live, work, play and learn,” said Arvada Mayor Pro-Tem Dot Miller in comments that opened the meeting. “These challenges are big and this conversation is just the beginning of change. But you know the old saying about how to eat an elephant one bite at a time.”
Among the several Arvada residents of color who discussed their experiences with racism was Sharon Davis, who said she has been contacted by Arvada police 12 times while jogging west of Wadsworth.
Editor's note: A spokesperson for the Arvada Police Department said he could not confirm that this Sharon Davis actually had been contacted by the department that number of times.
“I would like to be in a community where seeing me is not a surprise and seeing me where I am out distance running isn’t seen as a threat,” said Davis.
Those sentiments were echoed by Felix, who is also a racial minority and said her teenage son is also routinely pulled over.
“And I will tell you the anxiety it causes me as a parent is just unimaginable,” she said. “I want to see my kids not considered threats.”
Resident Amy Travin, meanwhile, said that she appreciated the city holding an event to listen to its residents of color and other citizens, she felt it was past time for the city to start making the actual changes that residents have been requesting.
“They know what to do, they just haven’t done it,” said Travin. “I would appreciate them doing it quicker than they already are.”
Travin said she would like the city to acknowledge that it is already aware that actions like increasing affordable housing and banning police departments from using force tactics that are used to harm people of color are what will lead to a more equitable and just community.
However, Davis said that it is important for residents to take an active role in telling the city what they want to happen rather than waiting for the city to take action on its own.
“I think if all of us on this call got together and insisted on some ideas to get the community involved I think that would go a long way,” Davis said. “The city can’t do all the heavy lifting.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, Miller said that while the event was the last scheduled meeting on diversity and inclusion for now, the dialogue would continue. She said city staff would brief the entire council on both meetings and talk with them about actions that need to be taken. She also encouraged residents to reach out to the city council with their concerns.
“We are listening hard,” said Miller. “Inertia is powerful so more than anything we need everyone to stay involved and invested.”
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