Rural Advocates for Racial Equity (RARE)

Rural Advocates for Racial Equity (RARE) 

Anti-Racist reading, discussion & co-learning group for all people in the Central Sierra Gold-Country region of Northern California.

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“Change is only a good thing if you change in a good way.” – Malcolm X

  • Beginning with a book club activity we will read chosen publications as a group.
  • As a group we will meet to discuss and share what we have learned.
  • Based on the importance of our findings we will develop an action plan to implement in our lives and affect the community at large.

What is Rural Advocates for Racial Equity (“RARE”)
by Valeria Davidson

Rural Advocates are a group of people that live in areas that have low population density which is different than the typical urban advocacy demographic. Rural Advocates can have a powerful voice but generally have to strive harder to come together as a group due to the nature of the rural environment. Population segmentation and demographic distribution is often limited in rural areas.

Racial Equity is achieved when you can’t predict the outcome of life situation based on individual demographic differences such as, but not limited to, race, gender identification, ethnic origins, etc.

Creating a voice about Racial Equity is a start in educating the population that may not be aware of such disparities in our culture. It will serve to break down the walls of separation between the different segments existing within our rural community. This is also an essential part of taking actions that will move us from entrenched inequality to a real and healthy Racial Equity.

The purpose of the Rural Advocates for Racial Equity is to enhance and enlarge our combined abilities to bring about healthy Racial Equity within our community and carry this change out into the larger world.

Some ideas for the first few books to be discussed are:
1. Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria by Beverly Tatum
2. Culturize by Jimmy Casas
3. Uprooting Racism – 4th Edition: How White People Can Work for Racial Justice by Paul Kivel

If you have a book you want to suggest for the reading list, let us know!

This group is in its early stages, so we are asking the opinions of interested individuals when they would like to meet and how often. Firstly, we will have a SURVEY to choose a date for this monthly program. Then we will create a Facebook Event for RARE on the AmadorArts page. Meetings will most likely start out on the Zoom platform until we are able to safely meet in person.

This group is facilitated by local, Racial Equity Advocates Valerie Davidson and Dr. James Armstead Jr.. If you have any questions or need more information, please email Valerie Davidson at or Dr. James Armstead Jr. at or the AmadorArts Program Coordinator, Alyssa Vargas at

Black History Bootcamp
Scaffolded Anti-Racism Resources
Anti-Racism Project Resources
Harvard’s Project Implicit

Who is Valerie Davidson?
A native Californian who grew up in the south SF bay area, she came of age in the early 70s. Typical of so many at that time she was confronted with the deep divisions and disparity between the prevailing white culture and all the other segments of society. Back then she developed a heart that yearned for healing that division. Perhaps not typical of that generation, she has held to her vision of a more inclusive and connected American culture to this day. This shows in her work in public education in Amador county. It has been at the core of all her endeavors throughout her life.

Valerie has a graduate degree in Fine Arts, a business, a family, and she works as a teacher. But this barely begins to tell you who she is.

She has lived in both large urban areas with diverse populations, including San Jose and the Los Angeles Area, and in rural areas with little diversity, including the San Joaquin valley and the Sierra Nevada foothills. For 16 years now she has resided in Calaveras county, making a total over 30 years in the Motherlode area.

For most her life she has been active in planning and facilitating a wide variety of group activities, ranging from simple fun events to gatherings with a specific healing purpose. She has collaborated in the creation of seminars and organizations aimed at empowering people, such as health care workers and women entrepreneurs.

Amador County Arts Council is eager to launch this new program and we are excited and happy that Valerie accepted our invitation to serve as our facilitator. We are sure the feeling is mutual, and we look forward to working with her to make a better world.


Who is Dr. James Armstead, Jr.?
Dr. J. Holmes Armstead Jr. is a retired professor of Strategy and International law from the US Naval War College. He has taught international law, strategy and national security policy for nearly 50 years. Professor Armstead has served on faculties at Stanford University, Pepperdine University, the University of California, the University of Nevada, Southern University the US Naval Postgraduate School, Lewis University, the Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee University. He has also lectured at the British Joint Services Staff College and taught as a visiting professor at the Universite d’ Pau in France and as an exchange professor at Richmond College at the University of London. He has lectured at senior staff colleges in Poland, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Estonia and well as the US Army War College, and at military academies in the United States, Poland, Ukraine and South Africa.. Jim has served as a research associate at the RAND Corp which sponsored his dissertation “Lightweight Power Projection” and has been Chief of Staff to a Member of Congress. Working for the Department of Defense he served on negotiation teams enlarging NATO with the accession of Poland, Hungary, Montenegro, Slovenia, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Albania, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. Jim has assisted in drafting constitutional reforms in Montenegro, South Africa, Poland, the Congo, and Estonia and has served Of Counsel to the American Bar Association Office of Human Rights and served legal adviser to the US – Canadian Acid Rain Treaty negotiations.

Dr Armstead received his undergraduate education at the University of Illinois in history and anthropology and was graduated in 1968, received his 1975 from DePaul University, returned to the University of Illinois where he undertook graduate studies in public policy and economics and was awarded a Ph.D. in public policy analysis from Pacific Western University In 1981. Dr. Armstead also holds a advanced certificate in International Law from the Instituto Superiori Internationale Criminali Science in Siracusa, Italy and is the recipient of 3 honorary doctorates. During his career he served in the United Nations Secretariat where he was the English language editor of the Treaty of Rome which created the International Criminal Court at the Hague and has served on missions with the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)  as an international election observer in Belarus, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Jim served as an Armor, JAG, Inspector General and Civil Affairs Officer in the United States Army, the US Army Reserves and National Guard in staff and command assignments from battalion to corps level eventually serving in the Pentagon as a special assistant to the Secretary of the Army. Professor Armstead resides in the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California and continues to write and lecture.

Since early 2018, AmadorArts Executive Director, Meghan Joy “mojo” O’Keefe has served on the steering committee for a national network called “White Advocates for Racial Equity” (AKA “WARE”) with the National Guild for Community Arts Education. This committee is made up of arts education leaders from all over the USA who meet virtually at least once per month to explore, investigate, and interrogate what it means to be White and how White people can dismantle systems of racism embedded in our communities. O’Keefe is excited to collaborate with Davidson and Dr. Armstead to sustain this work in Amador County. To learn about WARE and the National Guild for Community Arts Education, click HERE

>> Click HERE to weigh in on when this group will meet. <<