The city of Asheville in North Carolina approves reparations for their black residents.
What We Know
- The Asheville City Council recognized and apologized for the city’s historic role in slavery, discrimination and denial of basic rights to Black residents and voted 7-0 to provide reparations to them and their descendants. Councilman Keith Young, one of two African American members of the body and the measure’s chief proponent said “It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature.”
- The resolution does not approve direct payment to residents rather, it will make investments into the areas of the community where Black residents face disparities. It includes plans to increase minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increase minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice. The resolution also calls for the city to create a Community Reparations Commission, inviting community groups and other local governments to join. It will be the responsibility of the commission to decide how resources should be allocated.
- Councilwoman Sheneika Smith, who is Black, said the council had gotten emails from those “asking, ‘Why should we pay for what happened during slavery?'” Smith responded by saying “Slavery is this institution that serves as the starting point for the building of the strong economic floor for white America, while attempting to keep Blacks subordinate forever to its progress.” Councilman Vijay Kapoor, who normally splits with Smith and Young on different issues, supported the measure for moral reasons. He says anyone that is skeptical of the council’s vote needs to look at the data that clearly shows disparities between the black and white resident of Asheville.
“We don’t want to be held back by these gaps. We want everyone to be successful” Kapoor said.
This historic measure is a step in the right direction in actually ended systematic racism within the community of Asheville. Hopefully this move inspires federal and state officials to follow in their footsteps in recognizing racism and systematically helping the black community.