Is Asheville a segregated city?

A discussion over the disconnection of public housing projects from the city has raised a larger issue: Is Asheville, in many ways, still segregated?

The latest round of this discussion arose on Twitter, when local writer and web developer Josh Benson, in light of news that city officials were, for the second time in 16 years, considering re-opening a pedestrian walkway to Hillcrest, commented “Asheville remains a largely segregated city, something the tacitly liberal hippy/ hipster population chooses to ignore for the most part.”

I thought it was an interesting point, so I put out there for discussion. Responses ranged from agreement to assertions that while Asheville has vibrant minority communities, the city could stand to be better integrated — to contention with the main point (blogger Paul Van Heden shot back, “‘Segregated’ is a loaded term that does not apply to Asheville or the hippy/hipster scene.”) New media debates aside, this is far from the first time the issue has emerged.

According to the last census numbers, more than 20 percent of Asheville’s population — about 1 in 5 people — are minorities, mostly African-Americans (about 17 percent of the city). Mayor Terry Bellamy is African-American.

However, deep concerns do come forth, of which the debate about better integrating public housing projects is only one facet. Back in August 2008, a meeting intended to pitch the Downtown Master Plan to the African-American community turned bitter, with many attendees harshly criticizing the planners, the plan and city government while asserting that whatever urban plans got crafted, African-Americans inevitably came out on the losing end. Residents pointed out that the location of the meeting — the city’s Public Works Building — was part of an African-American neighborhood that had been demolished during the city’s official attempts at “urban renewal” in the 1970s.

Last year, Xpress’ coverage of the Burton Street community‘s struggle against an N.C. Department of Transportation plan that would have demolished a large piece of their neighborhood touched on the feeling many residents had that their concerns were often ignored by the city at large.

Asheville’s often touted as a diverse, forward-thinking city and in that climate, it’s easy for people to pat themselves on the back and not look at problems. So it’s worth asking the questions: Is Asheville a segregated city? If so, what causes this, and how can it be solved?


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

51 thoughts on “Is Asheville a segregated city?

  1. Josh Benson

    There are a lot of inconsistent attitudes in Asheville when it comes to race. Most people on the street I think would tell you they are not racist, and could do so without lying. People here don’t cringe or whisper when someone of another race walks by. In a lot of ways, people under the age of 25 of any race are treated the same by the propertied elite in town, so there is some common understand and shared experience. Nevertheless, ask any young white person in town if they’d move into Hillside or Pisgah View, and I’m sure you’d receive a hefty dose of incredulity. Those places are *dangerous*, don’t you know? I think this perception of danger is a large part of why many of European descent prefer to stay out of racial affairs altogether.

    So the white community as a whole pretends the minority community simply isn’t here. There are a few notable exceptions to this, but most of the time this is true. Have there been attempts to reach out to the black and hispanic communities? Have there been attempts by the black and hispanic communities to reach out to the white community? Why do you comprehend what I mean when I refer to communities of specific race? Why isn’t there just the Asheville community, instead of this, that, and the other?

    To speculate on what causes this, I’d have to say it’s most likely mutual distrust, misunderstanding, and miscommunication, as well as lack of motivation on all parts. To solve it, I don’t know, but I think a good start would be to have a conference of some sort where people from all backgrounds can talk about and solve some of their differences, instead of another one of these feel-good inter-racial PR events where we claim the problems have been solved by the very fact that everyone came to the meeting to solve problems…

    • Daryl

      I believe that’s right. They pretend. Black people are hateful towards their own people most of the time. Knowing they’re Black. White people just pretend. Despite me getting free things in restaurants sometimes they just pretend.

  2. Michael Muller

    When my partner Mike and I first moved here, we were both struck by Asheville’s lack of racial integration (I understand what Paul is saying — “segregation” is a loaded term and suggests something legislated or forced).

    Perhaps the most dramatic episode was Election Night 2008: I spent it with friends at the Asheville Brewing Company amidst an enormous crowd listening to President Obama’s victory speech. Of the hundreds and hundreds of people celebrating, there was only one black person — and he worked as a busboy clearing dishes and beer glasses. I thought this was ironic, if not a little sad, considering the context of the evening.

    These days, I’m often in rooms where there is only one black person (and that person is usually Mayor Bellamy). At most of the big events I go to, there only seem to be just a few people of color, if any at all.

    Outside of Goombay, you don’t see blacks and whites mixing very much around here. I, for one find that extremely unfortunate and would like to see it change.

  3. chops

    People who think that minority culture needs to conform to the establishment, have it the wrong way around.

    I believe that it is wrong to place this responsibility on those who are not empowered; the burden should be on those who are in control.

  4. Josh Benson

    I agree, but if the minority communities have no interest in engaging with their neighbors, little if anything can be accomplish. I think it takes effort on both parts, not just a paternal altruism on the part of the majority, which can sometimes be insulting.

  5. West Asheville

    The “Keep Asheville Weird” stickers should really read “Keep Asheville White”.

    That’s the only weird thing about Asheville. Asheville is really closed minded and NOT open to other races and nationalities. People like to talk about how open they are, but it simply isn’t true and can be proven any time you go downtown.

    • MG Massey

      Oh yes..the elite waschitu does everything they can to censor voices not pale.

  6. Joseph Barcia

    Chops is right. So is Josh, but it is worth pointing out how offputting paternalistic altruism is. What one might roughly call the “white establishment” really tends to prefer to act as though all racial tension were in the past tense, and no one of color (or other forms of difference) is oppressed anymore. But, unfortunately, everything one does (whether a minority or not) plays into a value structure, and our actions can be unintentionally oppressive of any number of groups. We need to remember our actions have implications beyond our immediate mental grasp, and that we should be accountable to what we do or do not do or say and open to suggestions for improvements.

  7. Mysterylogger

    Maybe if Asheville was as diverse as it claims then maybe the other cultures would want to blend in and mix it up.

    The Ethnic diversity in this town is dismal when it comes to culture. Oh boy we have a faux Bomhemien lifestyle and we jump on every Net poll bandwagon that comes along now thats diverse.

    Perfect example is Bele Chere oh boy what a line up of the same ol same ol.

  8. Ami Worthen

    This is a very complicated issue, and one which hits very close to home for me. The “pedestrian” who was killed was the son of one of my co-workers at the YWCA of Asheville. There is much room for improvement in Asheville.

    In terms of your question, I will say that that YWCA is the only place I go in Asheville where I see racial diversity. I would venture to say that it is an integrated place. It’s one of the things I love about it. Almost every time I walk past Club W (our gym), I see people of different races exercising side by side, the same is true throughout our building.

    The mission of the YWCA is eliminating racism and empowering women. As an agency, we offer programs that address institutional racism in areas of education, jobs and health care. Powerful programs that bridge gaps and transform lives.

    As a community, it is hard to know where to start in addressing these issues. The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism in April was a positive step towards raising awareness. Over 75 groups organized events. On event in particular, MAHEC’s “State of Black Asheville” talk, had a large, diverse group in attendance and addressed really tough topics. Other smaller groups also held hard-hitting conversations. I am glad this conversation is happening online, now, too.

    I encourage folks that are concerned about these issues to stay in touch with what the YWCA is doing, as well as the Center for Diversity Education, ABIPA and the YMI Cultural Center, to name a few. These are places where the work has begun.

    Thank you for opening up this discussion here.

    Ami Worthen
    YWCA of Asheville

  9. laelgray

    I would like to add to Amy’s suggestions that people also check out Building Bridges of Asheville. Building Bridges hosts twice yearly, 9-week long series on racism, including large group presentations and small group discussions. I encourage all who care about this issue in Asheville to participate in the next session which begins in September.

    • Linda

      What racism that term makes me laugh especially used by white middle class who’ve lead sheltered lives
      The blacks in NY get the best jobs even if unqualified but time and again Re responsible for 3/4 of the crime in the US. I’m sorry I’m white and Italian and English and don’t feel responsible in any way about slavery. Everyone’s grandparents struggles salves and worked hard to give their families a better life. Most of this so called Af rican American population are catered to head of all others.
      They get jobs over qualified whites as well as other races and feel they are entitled half of them don’t even come from this country. They did into govt programs that I and my family have to struggle to pay for. This George Floyd guy was arrested 8 times previous in 8 years. Now his family is trying to cash in with lawsuits. He had COVID and was on morphine and Meth. They destroyed America for this criminal. BLM is funded by leftist corporations and militants who have a destroy America agenda. Wake up and stop being morons.

  10. Josh Benson

    We need to do more to make sure all the members of our community are adequately represented, but beyond that if the majority of a certain subset of the community is not interested in being a part of said community, we can’t get anywhere. We have to make it apparent that there are benefits to being active participants.

    • Denyse Prendergast

      If people have no interest in further integration, regardless of race, what is the advantage in forcing the issue? What would be gained?

  11. Ami Worthen

    I can’t believe I forgot to include Building Bridges! A wonderful resource, for sure.

  12. Roxanne Semon

    There is at least one neighborhood in Asheville that is a model of a neighborhood community–the Montford Hills area of Tacoma Circle, Westover Dr., and Sylvan Ave. I live on Sylvan Ave., which is just one block long, and we have a mix of black, white, old, young, college students, gay, straight. The other streets are similarly diverse. We respect and care for each other. We had a huge block party last summer which was a picture of diversity in all ways. Those of us who live there feel blessed. We are currently threatened by the newest version of Alt. 4-B I-26 connector, which will put a wall around Westover and take out 3 homes. Will there be an exodus if these plans come to be, decimating what many of consider to be an ideal neighborhood?

  13. In some ways this conversation sounds a bit like if only more blacks and hispanics came downtown then we white folks could feel better about ourselves.

    David you say 20% of Asheville’s population are minorities. That may be true of the city proper, but they are diluted in a sea of white in Buncombe County and the rest of the surrounding mountain counties.

    All the fine race relations in the world are not going to create an influx of minorities into downtown to change the color vibe when they just are not here.

    2008 Buncombe County vs the state of NC race statistics

    Buncombe County is the first number.

    White persons, percent, 2008 (a) 90.1% – 73.9%

    Black persons, percent, 2008 (a) 7.2% – 21.6%

    American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2008 (a) 0.4% – 1.3%

    Asian persons, percent, 2008 (a) 1.0% – 1.9%

    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, percent, 2008 (a) 0.1% – 0.1%

    Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2008 1.2% – 1.2%

    Persons of Hispanic or Latino origin, percent, 2008 (b) 4.5% – 7.4%

    White persons not Hispanic, percent, 2008 85.9% – 67.2%

  14. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Every state, region, section, county, borough, and city in our country has ethnic and culturally distinct neighborhoods—and people in most places try to preserve and celebrate each of those distinct neighborhoods as something special, often as evidence of the larger “diversity” of place.

    I cannot imagine myself going anywhere outside my own home territory—to New York or Arizona or Arctic Alaska or Honolulu—and telling people how they should mix together, socialize, homogenize, talk, live, dress, and celebrate their history, including which flags they should wave and how they should and should not express their opinions—and I am always amazed that so many people come to The South and think they have the right to loudly and arrogantly express their own personal opinions about how we should conform to their preconceived notions.

    “Tis quite humorous, actually, albeit awfully irritating.

    • Rashaan Whitaker

      Then that means you can Dome the problem as a whole we as people should learn how to live amongst each other without hate or racism these are the type of people that calls so many problems today and if we never live like God for us then you can never truly know what it is to be really happy racism is a horrible thing people need to grow up and get past the fact that it is no longer the 60s a lot of people are racist and don’t really know why they are racist they go by what someone else tells them about black people when every black person is not the same every Hispanic is not saying every Asian is not the same and every white person is not the same

  15. Minoridad

    It’s ironic that a publication that, as far as I know, has no African American, Hispanic, or Asian writers is posing this question. Do you have anyone on staff who’s not white? If it’s not about crime or entertainment, I don’t see people of color in Mountain Xpress (and, no, quoting the mayor doesn’t count.) Remove the plank from your own eye before worrying about the speck in your brother’s eye.

  16. Congratulations Betty, on the longest sentence I’ve seen in quite a while.

    Your point about cultural boundries is well taken. People naturally flock to their own kind or comfort zone. It’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    “The South” doesn’t have a monopoly on segregation. Human nature is the same world wide.

  17. chops

    Betty, I’m trying to understand your point.

    Where would you draw the line? For example, if you were to travel to some place where the sexual abuse of children is socially acceptable, would you not speak out? There must be some threshold of values where it is appropriate – not “arrogant”, to share your perceptions with other cultures. What do you think that line would be?

  18. killarue

    Ex: I would look at the tourists that visit this city whom seem to be more diverse, specifically interracial couples, than the local population. There is a lot of good work going on in this community but one can’t discount the obvious lack of racial diversity in the population. Also, the people that live in poverty in most areas seem to be more racially diverse, to me, than the ones that talk about it in deep debate.
    We are continuing to evolve as a society; and believe or not, even SC has progressed a great deal in the past couple of decades. Change takes time, although bumping it along doesn’t hurt.

  19. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Chops, since you asked, here’s my demarcation of that line.

    An “outsider” has crossed the line when “locals” neither solicit, desire, nor value his critical observations and opinions but the outsider, even knowing that, feels a self-righteous compulsion to offer judgmental comments anyway.

    The topic of this MtnX staff commentary is hardly at the level of human rights abuses, though, for which numerous international and domestic entities have clear procedures for addressing (waterboarding notwithstanding).

    Less egregious human disconnect usually arises from simple differences of lifestyle, social convention, economics, and religion, and no place is immune from unwarranted opinion by rude people—but “The South” does seem to be on the receiving end of more outright stereotypical negative commentary, often by clueless and condescending people, than ought to be its share when compared with other sections of the country.

    The loaded question/agenda in this MtnX staff commentary is an example of skewed extrapolation, stirring the racial dissension pot via the pedestrian walkway controversy: “Is Asheville still segregated?” This question is rather like…..

    Reporter to Senator: Why do you beat your wife?
    Senator: I do not beat my wife.

    A person can cultivate goodwill, respect, and a sense of belonging, to some degree, just about anywhere, simply through participation and common courtesy, by being accepting and having the desire to learn and understand local traditions and history from the locals themselves, which is, after all, a major reason people seek and value diversity.

    Good advice given to Marlow (Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) before he started his journey up the Congo River, which ended badly: “Avoid irritation.”

  20. P.L.

    If you want a reality check and real dose of intergration, move to the Miami/Ft. Lauderdale area. Our culture (white) has been replaced with multiple Hispanic and Black cultures. If you don’t speak their their languages it’s like being in a foreign country. This used to be my home. Now, I am a stranger in a stranger land. So stop crying, look around and see what’s actually happening. By the way, I don’t expect this to be published. There are too many “sensitive people” in Asheville.

  21. Aaron Brown.

    What about North Carolina as a State?
    Gov.William Holden,was remove from office by the klan,there are a few well documented books that are based on our State when it comes to Slave Laws.
    Now don’t you think Asheville follow those same guidelines?
    Here’s the thing that get me,you have some who Honer the BibleBeltWays,then you have those that Honer the klan,then you have those that clam to be this new age love everybody in public?
    Asheville is a city that clam to love artist,and is rich with diversity, when i have yet to see it come to light.And those who are under 25 are over show and display there power as equal as the tea party.If you look at Asheville past removing the Natives in The Trail of Tears,Importing Slave Labor,in which a number of Family’s/Companies still live off,also most of the city streets are names of Family’s who Bought, Sold and Trade Human Life as Product.Now this would apply to Asheville present day as well?
    EastEnd community,where a large part of that community was tore down and is now a city dump,and as for those group who say that they deal with this type of issue really need to step up to the plate, are leave it alone.
    What you are ,Who you like and dis-like is your Right,but on how you treat another Human reflect on who you really are,as a Human.
    I will air a Short Film based on this issue in July,on URTV.

  22. chops

    I believe that if someone from WNC went to New York and started offering judgmental comments on how they should mix together, socialize, homogenize, talk, live, dress, and celebrate their history,… the people of New York may be offended, but they would not care where you were from.

    I believe that New Yorkers would be more concerned with the validity of the criticism. To them, place of origin is somewhat irrelevant – of course, NY is more of a melting pot than WNC – but, I believe this to be true of other places like Arizona or Arctic Alaska or Honolulu, too.

    It seems to me that “where you are from” really matters more in the South than it does in other areas around the country.

  23. Betty Cloer Wallace

    An “outsider” has crossed the line when “locals” neither solicit, desire, nor value his critical observations and opinions but the outsider, even knowing that, feels a self-righteous compulsion to offer judgmental comments anyway.

  24. “It seems to me that “where you are from” really matters more in the South than it does in other areas around the country. “

    “The South” does not have a monopoly on such matters as; “where you are from,” or “what do you do,” or did your ancestors come over on the Mayflower”? (I hear the Mayflower question is really big in the Boston area.)

    Frankly to show the same level of ignorance…I’d say New Yorkers were overstressed and too worried about paying the next big rent check to be nice or polite. How’s that for an ignorant generalization of NYC folks????

  25. chops

    Well, not a *monopoly*, but I stand by my original post.

    And no, I don’t believe that your statement about the NYC folks is an ignorant generalization – it seems to be a valid observation, but I would add the word “many” in front of New Yorkers so people would not assume you meant “all”. (although I could argue that it is, in fact, *all* ;)

  26. P.L.

    Far from telling folks what to think or do, obviously, it won’t be too long before people of color will and are becoming the majority in America. We’re just giving it away. Legally or illegally it doesn’t seem to matter. Simply check out the stats.

    And if history tells us any thing, and history has a tendency to repeat itself, when the minority becomes the majority, they begin jumping on the chest of the former majority. This is nothing new. All cultures incuding religions have and are still doing it.

    Sadly, our culture will gradually become a mute point. Perhaps then, we can demopnstrate in the streets about how unfairly we are bing treated. Perhaps then we can have a “White History Month”.

  27. Josh Benson

    What makes you think white people will be a minority? Can you point to some specific examples of former minorities trampling former majorities, particularly in democratic nations?

    I always find it amusing when people imply that certain races are inferior or some such, and then in the same breath complain that they’re “taking over”. Sounds like two mutually exclusive concepts to me.

    Neighborhoods change over time. There are plenty of neighborhoods in Asheville, especially on the East end of town as Mr. Brown pointed out, that used to be predominantly African-American, and are now predominantly upper middle-class white neighborhoods. Look up the word “gentrification” if you don’t grasp my meaning. It’s happening all over Asheville and other cities all over the country. What’s so terrible about people speaking other languages? Does your neighbor’s culture have any impact whatsoever on yours? Are you any less white, protestant, American because your neighbor happens to be bilingual and have a different shade of skin? What about the music she listens to or the food he eats? What impact does this have on your lifestyle?

    If other cultures and lifestyles did not exist, then yours would not be unique, and would have no meaning. Be thankful for the contrast the rest of humanity provides for your own example, because without them, you would be one more unremarkable face among billions. It isn’t necessary for you to be surrounded by and immersed in your culture in order for you to respect it and honor it. What exactly are you afraid of?

  28. P.L.

    Asheville is obviously a lilly white city.
    And generally, far removed from the pressures of real social changes.

    Who is aware? Need proof? Just look at Arizona and how the people want to protect themselves. Other states are now considering similar laws. Look at Florida. Broward county and Dade county. Whites are already in the numerical minority.
    Millions are envolved there.

    Hard to get a job if you’re not bilingual.
    This is till America isn’t it? Why should I have to learn, against my will, another language just to support my family? Let them learn English. English should be official language of the country. But no, it’s not politically correct to even think of such a unreasonable thing!

    In a Democracy, it’s mass migration and birth rates that really change things. Wars aren’t necessary. Take a close look at Europe. It’s happening big time. And they are getting really upset. Major problems ahead there.

    Who said anything about inferior? Only people really living in a dream world still think that.

    Afraid? Sure. Who wants to lose their culture?
    Just look around at the millions who move to this contry and feel the same way. By choice, don’t learn the langusge and don’t intergate into American culture. They don’t want to lose their culture. And either do I. This isn’t something that happens overnight. But it does happen.

    How about looking up
    “Reality”. Most people don’t have a clue about what’s really happening anyway.

    That’s all for now. Have a great day!

    • Mike

      I do agree with PL that no one should be denied an opportunity to feed their family or to even have a great paying job simply because they don’t speak a second language ie .Spanish. to me that’s a cause of greedy Americans Democrat and Republican, black white and all between trying to make and keep as much money as possible no matter how it affects our economy. If you have it all and most have hardly nothing at all that’s a poor economy and anyone that thinks that’s a good thing is insane. I’ve been to 29 countries from Europe to Asia to the Middle East and Beyond and I haven’t been in one yet where there’s a requirement for the natives of that country to speak English as a primary language to feed their family. I’m African-American and that’s no more ridiculous than saying I deserve a job over someone of another race because of my color alone. And just as ridiculous a saying if I’m white I deserve a job over someone of another color simply because I’m of the majority. That’s ridiculous

  29. Marlie

    There are many African-Americans and people of color ‘downtown,’ if you take the time to visit the Transit Center. I am a Caucasian female. I use the public transportation system in Asheville for two reasons: I cannot afford an automobile, and I am an environmentalist, trying to maintain a low carbon footprint. If you’d like to think about ‘segregation,’ ride the city buses. The buses make several trips to the public housing sites, each hour, especially those with predominantly African-American residents. The bus system serves a population of Asheville residents who are unable to own automobiles; that, in itself, tells you something about the economics of race in this city. With the progressive talk in our city about the tragedy of the Gulf oil spill and the necessity of developing alternative energy sources and decreasing dependence on fossil fuels, I have been trying to identify some of the proponents of these political views or at least some people who might appear to be ‘environmentalists.’ Other than some bikers/riders here and there, I don’t see our op-ed columnists, liberal professionals, downtown white-collar workers, or much of anyone I’d identify as putting their politics in to action. Before you tell me that environmentalists and progessives don’t ‘look’ a certain way, I’ll ask you to spend some time on the bus system. You won’t see the white people you see in the papers offering their political views. What you will see is a clear representation of a city that is segregated in terms of housing, economic resources, and access to choice of transportation. The people who talk the talk are not walking the walk – or riding the ride.

  30. bobloblaw

    I am of the opinion that all involved in this discussion are making good points but , I would have to agree with Betty and Marlie the most . For what its worth , I am a caucasian male who grew up a minority in a community that was and still is predominantly Puerto Rican and Afro-American. I say this to you , if you want to advocate cultural diversity in this town , forsake your comfort zone and move in to the “projects” for a year . Go hang out with the older crowd of color that congregate on Eagle st. Worship at a church where you are the minority . Not everyone can afford a membership to the y or to eat at downtown restaurants , but I know most people appreciate some good old fashioned respect and dignity. The haves trying to help the have nots because of a guilty conscience usually comes with the sting of condescension. Ive seen it , just sayin.

  31. jbolda


  32. jbolda


  33. Richarad

    a few years ago I found a lost mindreading tool left here by the ancients before they gave up on the idea of raising humans for food. Looking into people’s souls and knowing the true feelings about everything in their lives, including race was terrifying. People lie, to others and to themselves, all the stinking time, and the constant attempt to please others and be PC is destroying them from within.
    Some people don’t see color, but do notice behavior and culture. Act civil and friendly and most of the time you will receive that back.
    By the way, I destroyed the mindreader, it is far too dangerous for you humans to toy with.

  34. Ilene

    I retired in Asheville 3 years ago. I love many things about Asheville. But,I have been curious about the history of race relations in this area and would like to learn more. I have noticed that very few people of color seem to be part of the community.I don’t see minoriites in the supermarkets, the mall or the movie theaters. When visiting Greenville, SC I saw the exact opposite. There were diverse communities everywhere. I belong to the Reuter Center where we hardly see any minorities. We are going to attempt to address this issue. I am not sure what would bring people together, but my feeling is that if we reach out to people and not only welcome them but ask them to contribute their history, knowledge and culture we would all benefit from this exchange.
    From my experience, segregated communities are everywhere but I don’t want it to be in the place where I am spending the rest of my life. Segregation creates misunderstanding and mistrust. We can learn a lot from each other. Communication and education is the key.

  35. Big Al

    Aaron Brown, your history is incorrect. Republican Governor William W. Holden was NOT removed from office by the Ku Klux Klan, he was removed by the Democratically-controlled NC Legislature for unconstitutionally invading, occupying and regulating a Klan and Democratic party stronghold, Caswell County, with an army of Unionist militia, many from out-of-state, including Civil War Unionist bushwhacker Colonel George Kirk of Tennessee. While his intentions of defeating racist political parties seemed well-intentioned, his methods usurped the civil rights of Americans through the misuse of military force in blatent violation of posse comitatus.

    Also, the Trail of Tears was not any fault of the citizens or government of Asheville, but of President Jackson and the Supreme Court, both of whom refused to stand up to state governments, primarily Georgia, who had swindled the Cherokee out of their land. The U.S. Army then had to enforce these contracts in the name of “states rights”.

    If there is any “cause” for apparent black disenfranchisement in Asheville, it is simple numbers. That 17% in the census is suspect if you look around downtown, but even if we accept it, the bottom line is that this is a very white town in the midst of a region that had fewer slaves than the rest of antebellum NC, so far less urban influx than other southern cities.

    Fewer minorities = fewer minority votes = less power.

    The only segregation I note in Asheville, other than the pedestrian bridge which is now open again, is self-segregation, i.e. “birds of a feather flock together”.

    Funny how when minorities do this, it is called unity and empowerment, but when whites do it, it is called racism.

  36. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Wow, this issue is still being debated? Still apropos in 2017?

    • Brant Wehde

      I’m a cracker from Cedar Rapids Iowa and I recently moved to Asheville area and can feel and see what people are talking about. There is somewhat of a plantation feel here but I imagine it is state wide. I don’t think that it is any cooler here than eastern Iowa. In fact, with the stupid liquor laws, I feel that it is less cool. We know how to handle our shit in Iowa and not act like honkeys. I miss it up there a lot. Up there, racism is not an issue but at the same time, down here, I think it is more of an I’m from here and I don’t know you; ignorance type thing. Oh well, I gotta make a life here and can’t let this bullshit stop me.

  37. joe pike

    Anytime people today mention diversity they are always talking about culture or race……..More important diversity is (diversity of thought)
    I’m not so interested in pushing diversity of race or culture………First of all we are talking about the United States of America……….there is such a thing as American Culture (Western Culture) .I believe this country would not have the race and culture problems it has if everyone living here would embrace the traditional American Culture (NOT POP CULTURE) …throughout history Nations have had big problems because of the lack of same culture ,same language and same religious values…………… You can see what is happening today in the middle east..Sunni vs Shiite muslim ………..In Africa.Mulim vs Christians ……….. when the eastern European countries became independent with the downfall of the Soviet Union……..many of those countries restarted there ethnic wars against each other because they did not have the evil iron fist of the USSR controlling them……….So diversity has its problems…………you see it here in the U.S on college campuses …..The left won’t allow diversity of thought…but love to force affirmative action in enrollment ……they don’t like a merit sytem… they end up dumbing down college curriculum’s ……………………….. Just remember to love your neighbor ….and pass on the idea of the richness we have had in American Culture………………………….

  38. Mike

    My wife and I were in Asheville here in 2018 Tuesday through Thursday. We stayed and Biltmore Park at the Hilton and I must say we felt so underserved there and out of place. Mainly, due to the cold service we received from the female front desk staff. We go downtown and experience long stairs and uncomfortable looks from folks while dining and walking the streets. So unusual to us for Asheville as we’ve been coming here since 2004. I have noticed that in the past, say 5 years the city seems to be less diverse and welcoming than before. So, can someone tell me is what I’m feeling the new Asheville or has it always been this way. Maybe we came at a time when the urban and hip locals were gone. School is out right now. Could this be racism in some form or maybe a form of classism, if you will. I hear there are a lot of Southern Floridians retirees northeasterners and Silicon Valley well that ad move into Asheville and bought up quite a bit. I am from New York and lived for a long time and Northern Cal so I know all too well how those with excess wealth can be and many times you feel the effect regardless to race. Or, is it all in my head. Asheville is a Time We Grown to love over the years and planned to retire to, well, until a couple days ago. We were really disappointed and how we felt while visiting. So unlike the Asheville we’ve come to know. Where African American people of names and enjoy experiencing different cultures. We don’t look too make friends and become Bosom Buddies with others just casual acquaintances while out dining and trekking the town. We welcome all responses. Cheers!

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.