Letter: A more diverse workforce would help

Graphic by Lori Deaton

In reference to statements luxury hotel owner Mr. John McKibbon is making about property damage downtown during recent police brutality protests: The damage to his hotel was really minor compared to many other places in the country [see Hotelier Says Officials Didn’t Stop “Vandals” in the June 4 Citizen Times].

I say this to McKibbon: I would like to see a list of everything you have done for the community in Asheville, especially the poor and African American ones. How many nonwhites work for you, especially in visible areas other than janitorial and room-cleaner jobs?

I have repeatedly said that many of those who make big bucks in downtown Asheville discriminate in hiring at hotels, bars and restaurants. I believe that if you saw more nonwhites working in the high-end tourist business, especially downtown and in West Asheville, this would not have happened.

Please read the letters I have had published in Mountain Xpress about inequality in hiring in Asheville, and you will see I have been talking about this for many years and never saw much change from when I grew up in West Asheville.

— John Penley
Las Vegas

Editor’s note: Penley’s  March letter on the topic, “Shame on Asheville for Its Systemic Racism” can be found on the Xpress website at avl.mx/79r and his 2017 letter “Asheville Has Long History of Institutional Racism” can be found at avl.mx/79s.


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6 thoughts on “Letter: A more diverse workforce would help

  1. Curious

    Mr. Penley says, “I say this to McKibbon: I would like to see a list of everything you have done for the community in Asheville, especially the poor and African American ones.” Mr. McKibon’s impact on the economic well-being of Asheville and his philanthropy are well-known: https://wncmagazine.com/feature/giving_rise.
    I’m curious to have a list of everything Mr. Penley has done for Asheville. If he is so devoted to the city, why did he decamp for Los Vegas, after his sister evicted him?

    • Charles

      No kidding. I remember him complaining it was too far for him to go to get a (free) copy of the Mountain Express one week.

  2. Jason Williams

    Asheville is 78% white and 22% minority, of which 12% are Black, and 5% Hispanic. So, roughly, for every 20 people we see working in a business, we should see at least 3 black workers, 2 Hispanic, and 1 other. And not just in back-of-the-house jobs like Mr. Penley pointed out. Do you think we can strive for at least that level of representation? Is it that difficult for Asheville businesses to achieve?

  3. indy499

    Letter writer is clueless. Wonder if damage to his/her property (if owns anything) would be inconsequential if less than some asserted average elsewhere. Oh gee, my property was damaged less than the national average destruction, I guess I should bend over.

  4. Jonathan Wainscott

    The Mountain Xpress doesn’t have much diversity on their staff

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