Whatever it takes: Addressing racism and justice

Aaron Snook; photo by Simone Snook

Editor’s note: For our fall Nonprofit issue, we invited local nonprofit leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of operating a 501(c)(3) in Western North Carolina. 

Aaron Snook is the co-founder and curator of America Myth Center. The nonprofit works to curate stories that spark difficult conversations within the community.

What are some of the myths that your organization is actively working to dispel?

Snook: Myth is a tricky word, and we embrace its seemingly contradictory definitions. On the one hand, myths are false narratives like the Lost Cause and the American Dream; on the other, they are powerful stories that can provide catharsis for a community. At the AMC, we aim to create new powerful myths aimed at dispelling the old deceitful myths

How has your work with the Vance Birthplace been effective in addressing your mission?

Both collaborations with the Vance Birthplace and the Mountain History and Culture Group have been the purest representations of the work we want to do, existing in the intersection of art and activism. Our An Appalachian Christmas Carol and Leah & the Rabbit bring stories into our community that spark a necessary conversation around our country’s relationship to racism and justice.

What has been your AMC’s greatest success in 2023?

Leah & the Rabbit was a puppet show written and directed by Mikayla Wilson that tells the stories of Brer Rabbit through the eyes of Leah, who was enslaved by the Vance family. In 2023, Leah & the Rabbit played at the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival, Asheville Amadeus Festival and then in a Buncombe County tour produced by the AMC that took the show to four libraries and back to where it began at the Vance Birthplace for Juneteenth.

What is one new goal you’re excited to address in 2024?

We are producing a puppet show that takes the classic story of The Three Little Pigs and uses it to illuminate the history of redlining and urban renewal in Asheville. In support of the organizing efforts around reparations in Asheville, we see this as a vital story to bring to our community.


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2 thoughts on “Whatever it takes: Addressing racism and justice

  1. Curious

    The American Dream is a false narrative?

    Americans are more likely to believe in the American Dream now than they were last year. A June 2023 poll found that 61% of Americans say there is such a thing as the American Dream, up 18 percentage points from 43% in July 2022.

    Among members of the two major political parties and Independents, majorities now think there is such a thing as the American Dream. Republicans (76%) are the most likely to believe in it while more than half of Democrats (56%) and Independents (55%) say the same. In July 2022, just over one-third of Democrats (35%) and Independents (36%) believed there was such a thing as the American Dream.

  2. Voirdire

    I recently visited the Vance birthplace after a haitus of some forty years. It looks good out there…. still a place where the history of WNC during the 1800’s resonates strongly. Unfortunately, some woke moron had “tagged” on of the restored cabins out there …tagged, that would be vandalized. Also in the excellent museum that is adjacent to the cabin there was is interpretative exhibit that states that the enslaved population of Asheville in 1860 represented half of the entire population of Asheville at that time. This is as woke ludicrous as it gets.. the entire enslaved population of Buncombe County in 1860 was 15.1% ..the enslaved population of Asheville itself would have mirrored this percentage at best. The enslaved at the Vance homestead in 1860 totaled a family of 6 people. Let’s have our museums of WNC history tell the story of the then current reality.. and not reflect some misled ideology that is currently in vogue with grossly inflated claims that are as unhelpful as they are misleading.

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