Dispelling Myths Series encourages the VCU community to connect around diversity

“We Are Still Here” discussion on Nov. 19 will focus on awareness and dispel misconceptions about indigenous people.

Christina Davis.
Christina Davis will lead a discussion dispelling myths about indigenous Virginians on Nov. 19. (Allen Jones, University Marketing)

Growing up in Chesterfield County, Christina Davis’ mother made sure she and her sisters were exposed to the Pamunkey and Mattaponi culture by engaging in the various activities sponsored by the community of indigenous Virginians, such as dancing and traveling to powwows.

Davis, an interdisciplinary studies major focusing in social justice, works as an administrative assistant and building manager for the Division of Student Affairs. She is a descendant of the Virginia-based tribes. On Tuesday, Nov. 19, Davis will lead the Dispelling Myths Series discussion “We Are Still Here” from 1-2 p.m. at the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, University Student Commons, 907 Floyd Ave., Suite 215. She said the event gives her an opportunity to share her story, spread awareness and dispel misconceptions about indigenous people.

“I want VCU, Richmond and the community to know that there are people who identify as Native American and indigenous amongst them, everywhere,” Davis said. “Virginia is still home to many of us. We come in all different shades, from pale to dark. The educational system would have you to believe that we are extinct by referring to us in the past or only living west of the East Coast. However, there are reservations all over Virginia and a few less than an hour from Richmond. The Pamunkey, Mattaponi and Chickahominy are just down the road from us and they are very much active in the metro Richmond community.”

The Dispelling Myths Series encourages the VCU community to connect in a dedicated way around diversity with the objective of understanding various cultures on campus. The discussion series focuses on dispelling fallacies, honing in on lesser-known facts about cultural identity groups or general social justice issues. Past discussions have focused on images of Hispanic women in the media and Muslim identity. Kim Green, assistant director of cultural programming, said the discussions are important because they allow students to ask questions that are personal with the goal of inclusivity. 

Green describes Davis as an active member of the VCU community who shows up consistently to talk about diversity and model inclusivity. 

“It is hard when people around you are not aware and understanding of the variations of race and ethnicity,” said Davis, who enjoys being active in the indigenous community. “It has taken decades for my identities to become a seamless part of who I am. I navigate my world as me. I know my story is like many others and I want to let others know that they are not alone and to emerge from behind the doors to be true to their identity and to themselves.” 

Davis said she appreciates the opportunity to share her life story and to shed light on the need for an increased cultural and identity awareness. She credits the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs for allowing students to have what she called a "brave space" to be expressive, have a voice, learn, engage and be active on campus without sacrificing who they are as a means to fit in.  

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