What Asheville’s power structure still does not get about race in 2019 

Photo courtesy of YWCA of Asheville and WNC

What does Asheville’s power structure still not get about race in 2019? We asked Libby Kyles, chief executive officer of the YWCA of Asheville and WNC, for her thoughts on the matter.

  1. Hiring someone non-white does not address racial inequities. From the city to the school system, there is the misconception that if we hire someone nonwhite, the racial disparities will disappear and the achievement gap will disappear.
  2. Burdening people of color with the task of fixing racism and issues of inequities is not only unrealistic, but it continues to inflict trauma on people of color.  Asking those without power to create the solutions without resources is just wrong!
  3. Equity is not a buzzword.  Equity can’t happen without action, and action requires the sharing of power!
  4. White fragility is real, and because the power structure doesn’t acknowledge the privileges associated with existing while white, it is unable to understand the need for racial healing.
  5. Asheville’s power structure still does not get that it needs to invest heavily, with both resources and funding, in communities and people of color. It is not enough to recognize that redlining and urban renewal had a negative impact on people of color, but there must be some effort to set right what went terribly wrong!
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8 thoughts on “What Asheville’s power structure still does not get about race in 2019 

  1. Curious

    Besides acknowledging what Asheville doesn’t get, what specific steps does Ms. Kyles advocate?
    “Hiring someone non-white does not address racial inequities. ” Is hiring non-whites not something Ms. Kyles supports? This is confusing.
    “. . . .the power structure doesn’t acknowledge the privileges associated with existing while white . . .” Once whites acknowledge the privileges associated with existing, what do they do next?
    ” Equity can’t happen without action, and action requires the sharing of power!” Do non-white members of City Council and County Commission not “share power?” Is the non-white city manager not sharing power?
    Further explanation would be helpful.

    • C-Law

      Excellent follow-up questions…!

      Otherwise it just looks like Kyles vomited up a bunch of Stacey Abrams’ talking points…

  2. Veri Similitude

    Curious: 1) This is the equivalent of saying to a starving person, “Here is a bowl of boiled potatoes., be happy I shared it with you.” Where is the equity in simply saying just because someone was hired, all things are well and racially balanced, with no examination of the realities faced in workplaces AND nonworkplace environments everywhere? 2) Once they acknowledge those privileges, they next share that perspective with others, as allies of minorities. Then they find ways to promote and support equity as it fcontinues to evolve through volunteer work, advocacy, financial support, and keeping the discussion going on social media. And of course VOTING! 3) Don’t know; can’t say.

    • Curious

      Thank you for those thoughts. Would you share more on this: ” no examination of the realities faced in workplaces AND nonworkplace environments everywhere?” What are those realities as they apply to racial inequities in Asheville?
      Agree with your thoughts on further actions in number 2.
      Still puzzling that Mr. Kyles doesn’t seem to believe that non-white members of City Council and County Commission and non-white city and county managers are not sharing/participating in the power structure of this community.

      • Veri Similitude

        In workplaces and neighborhoods. There is not a lot of racial integration going on there. The lack or irregularity of visible racial conflicts is not a sign of racial equity. It’s more a sign of resignation or hopelessness when things are too silent. There needs to be dialogue and action toward integration. I worked in Asheville 30 years and never had a coworker of color, despite working for several large organizations of 50+ employees. They shrugged and said, “They don’t apply. Or they apply and don’t stay.” But the workplaces were so toxic, it’s no wonder they wouldn’t stay (or apply again)… Insidious. And the internal politics are usually such that people of color don’t advance, or don’t at the same rate or require a total sacrifice of health or home life in order to advance. It’s more typical than atypical.

  3. Lulz

    LOL she needs to see the real African immigrants on the north side that have nothing in common with African American culture. My bets are that the former will end up leading successful lives in spite of her narrative. And the latter won’t because of it.

    • Songhope

      I’m curious to know (although I believe you have a point, that recent immigrants have a different experience of being in America than African Americans who’s family and histories are here), how will they be more successful? Will they go to college? Will they be less discriminated against? Will they get good jobs and not face housing discrimination? Once they have mastered the English language, what kind of jobs will they be able to get? Where will the training come from? They are extremely poor and come here with nothing (literally – I’ve met and talked with some, through an interpreter), and often have many family members here or who are approved to immigrate here with them (at least that’s the case here in Portland, OR), but they do have one thing in common. They all have brown skin. In America, discrimination and lack of privilege are not (as far as I can tell) because they are darker skinned and new here, or darker skinned and born a citizen. Racism is racism. It’s institutional, unconscious, and systemic. While some of us are waking up, more and more, we have a whole SYSTEM to repair! It seems that discrimination that is unconscious in so many people, aren’t going to ask, “Now wait a sec! Have you always lived here or did you recently arrive? I can’t tell by your skin color.” We can only hope that immigrants do not ALSO encounter being judged or ostracized based on lighter or darker shades of their skin that sometimes comes from within the black community (as was my friend with Albinism). That would be adding insult to injury. We have a LOOOONG way to go in this country! I believe we’re all better off not resenting new immigrants, too. My privilege was born to me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do what is mine to do. I can speak, at the very least.

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