Xusana Davis was appointed Vermont’s first Director of Racial Equity by Governor Phil Scott. “The director of racial equity, and the five-member Racial Equity Advisory Panel, which the director oversees, were established by lawmakers and the governor [in 2019] to help identify and address systemic racism in Vermont state government.” (Landen, 2019, January 21) Ms. Davis has the courage to stand against racism. She dedicates herself to creating needed change in the government system, fighting for racial equity.
Xusana Davis. [Color photograph]. “Courtesy Of Xusana Davis / Via Gov. Scott’s Office.”
As Ms. Davis told Vermontbiz magazine:
“[O]ne of the things that I was brought on to do was to identify systemic racism in all three branches of government and help those branches of governments eradicate it. So the real test comes when we’ve identified those points of systemic racism, and how the relevant agency department or branch chooses to address it. I think it’s easy for people to say, ‘I want to do more, I want to be equitable about diversity.’ But when it’s time to actually do the work, are we just talking or are we doing the work?” (Marcel, 2020, August 15)
According to Xander Landen in VTDigger (2019, June 21), “[Davis] will be critical in demonstrating a full commitment to equal opportunity and treatment for all Vermonters, our visitors and our employees.”
Ms. Davis earned her degree at New York Law School with a concentration in International Human Rights Law. She also has directed a civil liberties education program for low-income youth. “Davis, 30, [was] the director of health and housing strategic initiatives in the city’s health department. She also served as the director of the New York City Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus.” (Landen, 2019, January 21)
It’s obvious how much effort Ms. Davis puts into the fight for racial rights. In this video, The News Project, she talked about the racial equity job and moving to Vermont. (GNAT TV, 2020, June 17)
Cherry (2019) identified several types of leadership styles, including transformational leadership. “Transformational leaders are able to motivate and inspire followers and to direct positive changes in groups.” A leader supports a group of people by managing, motivating, directing and guiding. VPR pointed out that Ms. Davis’ job is not something she is doing by herself. She has a supportive team and many people from different states are enthusiastic about her work. Ms. Davis shows by her exceptional work in racial equity that she is capable of transformational leadership. (Hirschfeld, 2019, August 6)
The TED Talk, “How to Start a Movement,” described leaders who start a movement and encourage other people to follow. (Sivers, 2010, February.) Vermont Public Radio reported that Ms. Davis has encouraged everybody to be a participant in racial equity. She told VPR that it’s critical for everyone to be active and be vocal:
“I think that when you do something wrong or when you’re part of a system that fosters inequity, it’s appropriate that you be part of the solution to correct it. And the team we have in state government and the tools that we have really equip us to do some good work here.” (Hirschfeld, 2019, August 6)
The article “What is Spiritual Leadership?” discussed how leadership can bring out life force and creative force. A spiritual leader is a person who has the spiritual skills to help solve or fix problems. “In a world full of problems, we need the kind of leadership that can see beyond one set of problems to the relationships between the problems we are facing.” (Women’s Theological Center, n.d.) Ms. Davis definitely has the motivation, management skills, and guidance skills that result in effective spiritual leadership.
Aaccording to Rep. Kevin Christie, who chairs the Vermont Human Rights Commission,
Ms. Davis has advanced racial equity during the pandemic. She helped to coordinate the translation and dissemination of public health information, assisted essential workers seeking help, and addressed gaps in data collection. (Henderson, 2020)
In the TED Talk, “Can Ordinary People Become Leaders?”, Seth Godin talked about how any person can become a leader. When a person becomes a leader, they have to have a tribe or a group of people to follow them. (Raz, 2014, January 17) According to Vermontbiz (Marcel, 2020, August 15), fifty people showed up at a breakfast to welcome Ms. Davis when she arrived in Vermont. These people included state legislators, representatives from the NAACP, and other Vermonters. They let Ms. Davis know they support her.
Lawmakers support bigger budget for Vermont’s lone Racial Equity Director. https://vtdigger.org/2021/01/11/lawmakers-support-bigger-budget-for-vermonts-lone-racial-equity-director/
The article, “The Quiet Powerhouse Fighting Racism in One of the America’s Whitest States,” detailed the discrimination she saw in the US when she was a child because of her parents’ accents and foreign education. (The Christian Science Monitor, 2020, November 2).
In the TED Talk, A Lifelong Struggle for Freedom of Expression, Issa Nyaphaga described his work for social justice and human rights in Cameroon. He talked about how resilient people can become leaders. (Nyaphaga, 2018, January 30) Mr. Nyaphaga said he used body painting to cope with his depression and to express himself.
Ms. Davis is a resilient person. She did not paint her body to show her childhood issues, but she took action to change the system. I believe Ms. Davis will be a great leader for racial equity in Vermont, and she will fight for everybody to have equal rights, including me.
Cherry, K. (2019, May 20). Leadership styles and frameworks you should know. https://www.verywellmind.com/leadership-styles-279531
GNAT TV. (2020, June 17) The news project: In studio — Meet VT’s executive director of racial equity [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/5rqJxA4F7B0
Hirschfeld, P. (2019, August 6). As Vermont’s first racial equity director, Xusana Davis aims to address ‘pressure points’.” Colchester, Vermont: Vermont Public Radio. https://www.vpr.org/post/vermonts-first-racial-equity-director-xusana-davis-aims-address-pressure-points#stream/0
Landen, X. ( 2019, June 21). Xusana Davis appointed Vermont’s first director of racial equity. VTDigger. https://vtdigger.org/2019/06/21/xusana-davis-appointed-vermonts-first-director-of-racial-equity/
Henderson, G. (2020, November 2). The quiet powerhouse fighting racism in one of America’s whitest states. The Christian Science Monitor. https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Making-a-difference/2020/1102/The-quiet-powerhouse-fighting-racism-in-one-of-America-s-whitest-states
Marcel, J. (2020, August 15). A Herculean task: Meet Xusana Davis. Vermontbiz. https://vermontbiz.com/news/2020/august/15/herculean-task-meet-xusana-davis
Raz, G. (Host). (2014, January 17). Seth Godin: Can ordinary people become leaders? [Radio broadcast]. In TED Radio Hour. Washington, DC: National Public Radio. http://www.npr.org/2014/01/17/261096538/can-ordinary-people-become-leaders
Sivers, D. (2010, February.). Derek Sivers: How to start a movement [Video]. TED Talks. https://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement?language
* * *
APA cite in text as: (Willey, 2021)
APA cite in full References as: Willey, N. (2021). Xusana Davis fighting for me! Vermont Psychology. https://wp.me/p4elXk-JC
* * *
Nga Willey: I grew up in Vietnam, in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). I lived there for twenty one years. I lived with my parents and three brothers. I am the oldest in the family. I learned Chinese, Vietnamese, cooked, made up and sewed in Vietnam. In 1997, I got married and immigrated to the United States. Washington was the first state I lived in. I have lived in Seattle, Washington since 1997. I love Seattle, and I always wish I could move back there. Seattle is like my hometown. I worked a lot when I was in Seattle. I did not have time to take college classes there, but I got my GED there. I was pregnant with my daughter in Seattle. Then we moved to Vermont, where my ex-husband’s parents live.
I have lived in Vermont since 2013, and I had my daughter. I was a stay-at-home mom for a couple years. I divorced my ex in 2014. I have been working hard to take nursing classes since 2019. Psychology is one of the classes that I have to take for my subject, and I really enjoyed the discussion in the module. The reason I wrote about Xusana Davis was because I had experience with discrimination by other people in the past. I really need people like Ms. Davis fighting for me to have equal rights. I think everyone will need their rights because we live in the United States, which is a free country.