Xpress presents: Asheville’s eight influentials for 2016 — Anonymous

One of our eight influentials declined to accept the public profile. Xpress deliberated about choosing another nominee to profile or offering the person a chance to make an anonymous statement. In the end, we felt the statement offers a chance for dialogue and was earned by this anonymous person's work in our community.

Our area sees its fair share of awards and recognition ceremonies. And many dedicated individuals receive well-deserved attention for the work they do to make our community a great place to live.

But it often seems a small group of movers and shakers get all the glory, while the energy and talent of legions of other contributors remain hidden in plain sight.

So, in the spirit of our mission to build community and foster civic dialogue, Xpress set out to find some of those lesser-known folks who are quietly doing important work in the Asheville area. We put out a call for nominations and received a total of 41. From there, our editorial team conducted background research on the nominees, including interviews with colleagues and collaborators. Gradually, over a series of meetings, the list was narrowed to eight outstanding influencers.

The nominees, overall, embodied a high degree of the qualities we were hoping to celebrate. That’s the calling card of a committed community: We have an abundance of passionate citizens mobilized to make a difference in the Asheville area. We realized, through the course of this project, it only scratches the surface of all the active, influential people in our region. As such, Xpress hopes to revisit this concept in the future.

Xpress applauds the work of those profiled here, and we hope you will be as inspired as we have been to learn more about their motivations and contributions.

Xpress editorial staff

Xpress is rolling out the eight profiles on our website from Dec. 2-5, or pick up this week’s print issue to view all eight profiles.

Previous profiles:

One of our eight influentials declined to accept the public profile. Xpress deliberated about choosing another nominee to profile or offering the person a chance to make an anonymous statement. In the end, we felt the statement offers a chance for dialogue and was earned by this anonymous person’s work in our community.

Anonymous Statement

I feel a lot of gratitude for being nominated for this award but don’t feel that this is the time for public recognition of me as an individual doing this work. I am a white woman with a lifetime of unearned privileges associated with that race. The work I do focuses on people and communities which are systemically marginalized, and many of these people and communities are hurting right now in a very real way. Many people are freshly afraid for their safety and the safety of their children and families. Many people in these communities have been fighting their whole lives to shift the societal inequities which keep them and countless other people excluded from the opportunities and resources needed to pursue their goals and build the lives they want for themselves and their families. My own racially conferred privileges created opportunities for me to pursue the education and career choices that brought me to a position of paid leadership in this work, but ultimately, the work isn’t about me. Many people without such privileges are working hard every day to fight injustice and build a world in which everyone thrives, and it is their faces, voices and stories which I feel should be centered in prominence at this time.


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About Dan Hesse
I grew up outside of Atlanta and moved to WNC in 2001 to attend Montreat College. After college, I worked at NewsRadio 570 WWNC as an anchor/reporter and covered Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners starting in 2004. During that time I also completed WCU's Master of Public Administration program. You can reach me at dhesse@mountainx.com.

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27 thoughts on “Xpress presents: Asheville’s eight influentials for 2016 — Anonymous

  1. The Real World

    Hardly know where to start. Wow, so much guilt about something she had no control over — the race she was born.

    Giving that whole concept a serious re-think would be a good starting place related to how she’s viewing many things stated here. Sure seems like she’s trying to infer guilt outward to others of her color.

    • WAVL

      Maybe you’ll step up and accept this recognition on behalf of all white people?

          • WAVL

            Sorry, meant to write “your comment indicated disapproval”

          • The Real World

            “modesty” ?? — you need to check your definitions and reading comprehension. Couldn’t be more obvious that she’s articulating guilt and I don’t disapprove of how anyone feels about most anything.

            I was expressing incredulousness and suggesting she ponder this concept some more because it doesn’t make sense to essentially apologize for what race you were born. But, I’m repeating myself.

          • WAVL

            I read her comments more as “I’m going to decline to take a White Savior victory lap, and just keep focusing on the work that I’m doing.” To me, recognition of privilege doesn’t equal guilt. I’m sure we both know the definition of modesty. I apologize if my joke was a bit snarky.

          • The Real World

            Could be. But why is she inserting race into her commentary at all? I’m assuming she was nominated for her charitable work not her skin color. Clearly, she’s burdened by it and does seem to want some sort of special recognition because of it. Otherwise, there was no need for her to mention her race. She’s psychologically all wrapped up in it. (I think she chose anonymity for some privacy reason)

            “recognition of privilege” — so, let me ask you, do you believe that all white people in America are privileged purely based upon having been born white?

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            I wish when I was growing up that I could have gotten jobs simply because of my skin color, like you can nowadays if you are the right skin color (and it ain’t white).

          • WAVL

            “The work I do focuses on people and communities which are systemically marginalized…” We are just working from assumptions here, but in my reading there is likely some aspect of her work/job title that explicitly nods to social justice, eliminating racism, etc; which is to say, she didn’t just randomly inject into the conversation, as if she worked for Brother Wolf or something. Yes, I think all white Americans are privileged with respect to their racial identity. It may be tiresome to talk about, but we aren’t a colorblind society – people are often treated very differently based on the color of their skin. You’d be hard pressed to find people of color who don’t corroborate this in some way, regardless of their political inclinations. This isn’t to say that there aren’t white Americans who are, concurrently, very underprivileged in other ways. But it sounds (to me, at least) like the recipient of this recognition has done quite a bit of thinking in this regard, is honest about advantages she’s had that some of the people she works with didn’t, and thinks there are other people working in her field more deserving of recognition. I see that as being thoughtful and laudable, not suspect.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            “…we aren’t a colorblind society – people are often treated very differently based on the color of their skin”

            That’s because leftists unendingly focus on skin color. They policies of showing preference for non-white job applicants is no different than past policies of showing no preference for the same.

          • WAVL

            Respectfully, Snowflake, I just don’t think that’s true. We have a long and robust history of racism against people of color, it predates and overshadows (exponentially) more recent initiatives towards diversity, inclusivity, affirmative-action, etc… Take away the leftists, and we’ll still have racists. It sounds like you disagree with movements towards diversity, and have maybe been personally hurt by a hiring situation in which a non-white applicant was favored, for which I’m sorry, but I think it’s a tough sell to say that racism is caused by people against racism.

          • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

            “We have a long and robust history of racism against people of color,””

            Which wound will not heal as long as leftists continue to pick the scabs and obsess over the wound. Racists are with us in all color groups. So leftists attempts to make it look like it is just a white problem are simply their identity politics at work.

          • luther blissett

            “Which wound will not heal as long as leftists continue to pick the scabs and obsess over the wound.”

            Give whitey a pat on the head and a dixie flag cookie.

        • The Real World

          Yes, I got that gist about the type of work she does but HER race has no bearing on helping other people. Only she and you seem to think her race is somehow important. That is very revealing.

          “we aren’t a colorblind society – people are often treated very differently based on the color of their skin” — and it will always be this way, but it lessens over time as it very much has in America over the last 50+ years. People have preconceptions about many, many things; often subconscious.Guess what, employees get regarded differently whether they are short or tall (studies have proven that more tall guys move higher up the corporate ladder than short guys do. Same result occurs for thin/average people versus the overweight.) And, there’s still a huge conversation to have about discrimination towards women in business, social, cultural settings, etc. I’m also talking about women discriminating against women, it’s not just coming from men.

          I call BS on this manufactured “white privilege” nonsense. I’m white and I would gladly trade places with Condoleeza Rice, Elaine Chao, Ben Carson and a bunch of others. I’m a bit younger than they but we’re of the same generation. They have gifts and probably both stamina and the type of parents that I did not have. I can easily argue they were more advantaged than me. So, simplistically pointing a finger at a skin color and calling it priviledged, or underprivileged, is racism itself!

          WAVL – why, truly why, do you folks never speak about people having a responsibility to TRY to overcome their obstacles, to work hard for what they want, to refuse to view themselves as victims or let anyone else treat them as one? Why do you rail for rights but not also require responsibility from people for creating the life that they want?

          • WAVL

            Somehow this conversation has moved far beyond our initial disagreement: which is that I think the anonymous recipient is laudable and you find her dubious… Picking examples of successful people of color doesn’t disprove white privilege as a phenomena, c’mon with that. There are two distinct arguments here: personal responsibility is important, and ultimately, a given, as we have to live our lives regardless of the forces that shaped them. But that doesn’t preclude acknowledgement of the fact that we all start with varying degrees of advantage/disadvantage. Recognizing and working to eliminate those disadvantages is part of trying to make a better world – if that’s not worth striving for, what the heck is? “It lessens over time” because people (like the recipient, I imagine) work hard, in the face of relentless criticism, to make it better. It doesn’t get better because we pretend it was never bad. Pointing out that people of color in this country often start with an additional barrier to success isn’t “racism itself”, it’s honesty that allows us to get to work. You mention that there is a huge conversation to be had w/r/t discrimination against women, and I agree. Now imagine a male engineer, who decides to dedicate his professional life to bringing more women into STEM fields. If he was offered a recognition for that, and said “you know, I would prefer if you recognized a woman engineer instead, that would do more to advance my work”, would you mock him as overcome with guilt?

          • The Real World

            It is a reading comprehension issue (and some arrogance, it seems). You are assigning me viewpoints that are not mine. And dancing around my questions. There is nowhere constructive to go with someone who operates like that.

            But, to answer your question: if the engineer guy felt the need to identify himself as a ‘privileged’ male helping (seemingly underprivileged) females — then yea, he’s got a guilt thing going on or an alpha ego thing. His gender has no bearing on helping people.

          • WAVL

            In all sincerity, which are the viewpoints I’ve assigned inaccurately?
            I’m confused at some of your statements, because you seem to acknowledge that race/gender iniquity exists, but then also chastise others acknowledgement. And I’m trying to operate as sincerely as possible here, while also offering a differing opinion.

  2. Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

    What an insidious form of racism: the racism of low expectations. You are the way you are because you were born that way.

  3. boatrocker

    “White Savior Victory Lap”???? Like a ‘FU blue state tour’ on the part of POTUS to be?
    Oh, hell yeah WAVL.

    Yes because anyone of color automatically trumps (sorry couldn’t resist) any other job applicant. Whitey, you are sooooo the victim lol lulz.
    When will you ever ascend to your rightful place of being in power? Maybe you’ll finally get your own History Month too.

    These next 4-8 years are an untapped comedy gold mine for swamps remaining quite full, smelly and growing larger by the day.

    Please, altright, please please just keep posting so I can read your wisdom over coffee in the morning, mock them in the afternoon for me pretending to be working, and bask in your seething hate at night before getting a good night’s sleep.

    • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

      “Yes because anyone of color automatically trumps (sorry couldn’t resist) any other job applicant. Whitey, you are sooooo the victim lol lulz.”

      You sound kind of naive. Not much experience in the corporate world? I once had a human resources manager tell me as that white males are the most discriminated against.

      • boatrocker

        Cite your source or ‘Luggenpresse’

        Know who else ‘hears things’ that he can’t back up with facts?

        Was said human resource manager wearing a sheet too

        • Snowflake (Social Justice Worrier)

          Cite my source? Hilarious! I am the source. And no, the HR manager wasn’t wearing a white sheet, but was a multi-ethnic female who expressed delight in what privilege that brought her on the job market.

          • boatrocker

            And readers are supposed to take you on your word given your posts claiming that a free press is not needed in favor of a POTUS who simply tweets/people of color being responsible for racism?

            Again- uh huh. Because given your beliefs, your ‘multi-racial HR manager’ is really going to confide in you like you’re her token whitey friend who truly understand the state of the world. Is she related to your girlfriend from Canada?

            I can’t wait for the first State of the Union Address. He’s going to actually have to fill say 30 minutes of ‘talking’ like someone with all of his marbles.

  4. Deplorable Infidel

    yes, an insidious form of self imposed racism…liberalism IS a mental disorder.

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