Saturday night, Aug. 21, the Drinks and Dialogue event focuses on an issue I’ve written about before. The topic: Why is Asheville segregated? Racial relations in Asheville remain a controversial issue (as I’ve written before) — and one that must be faced.
The event, at the Haywood Lounge (590 Haywood Rd.) at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 21, is organized by Tim Smith, who’s taken the initiative to tackle this issue head-on and promote a dialogue. I look forward to it as an opportunity for Ashevilleans to discuss these issues face-to-face, something that’s been helped since time immemorial by a drink. If the questions and comments that arose in the original discussion are any indication, it should be an interesting and enlightening night.
Sadly, discussion over this important topic often bogs down into debates about where minorities live, whether “outsiders” are imposing on a culture, or how many minorities hold positions in an agency or company (full disclosure: Xpress has no Hispanic or African-American employees). Those aren’t unimportant necessarily, but they often miss larger issues.
In my original post, I focused intentionally on events such as the dangerous pedestrian crossing to Hillcrest, the razing of African-American neighborhoods during the “urban renewal” of the 1970s, the Burton Street neighborhood’s fight against widespread demolitions and the feeling of many minority citizens that when it comes to planning the future of Asheville, their concerns aren’t taken seriously.
These are not token issues, but matters of government power, prosperity and poverty. In some cases they are matters of life and death.
In the end, questions of segregation boil down to who is regarded as expendable and who isn’t. Any hope of moving towards a city where that answer is “no one” takes some honest discussion about an extremely complicated topic. Tomorrow’s a great time to start, and I hope to see you at Drinks and Dialogue.