Letter: Protesting is worth the risk

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I let my daughter go into Asheville [June 4] to join the protests. My husband did not want her to go because of the coronavirus. The system, he said, is broken. The risk was not worth it because nothing is going to change. He may be right. The system certainly seems to be broken, and we have been through this before — many times.

I spent a few days in Alabama earlier this year retracing the path to civil rights forged and fought for during the 1960s. I walked the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma and toured the lynching museum in Montgomery. It was heartbreaking to see the still obvious effects of racism and hate in these cities, but I also saw light. Alabama is still today visibly mired in its past — both economically and physically. Shuttered and abandoned houses are everywhere. The depression that is a function of the deep-seated institutionalized racism is very real. But, in acknowledging the past, it seems that these places could possibly, at some point, move forward.

Elsewhere in America, we pretend that we are beyond this, but it is this denial that allows the hate to persist. Ahmaud Arbery is pursued and killed for jogging in a predominantly white neighborhood in Georgia. George Floyd is murdered in cold blood on film in Minneapolis by a man sworn to protect and serve. A white woman calls the cops on a black bird-watcher in New York City’s Central Park — knowing that she had the power to do so. Here in Asheville, the police destroyed a medic station set up to support protesters under the pretense of eliminating potential weapons (water bottles). This is not a world of love and compassion. It is a broken system fueled by fear and divisiveness.

This is why my daughter wanted to go downtown. She is 18. She believes that her world can be better and that she can make a difference. She wore her mask because that, too, is a sign of caring about others, and she stood at the base of the Vance Monument (a monument to a Confederate governor, itself a symbol of racism). She stood with other protesters and held a sign that read, “The brutality is not new, but the cameras are.” Pictures are proof. They are the shuttered houses in Alabama that cannot be ignored. They are power, but only if we have the conviction to demand answers and accountability from those who would alter the narrative.

That is why I let my daughter go to Asheville knowing the risk from the coronavirus. Because it is worth it. My family may worry about our safety for a few weeks, but others in this country worry every single day — pandemic or not.

— Erin Ingle Long


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.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

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.

8 thoughts on “Letter: Protesting is worth the risk

  1. george bazley

    Taking an active stand against such injustices is vital to our integrity as human beings, and promoting, instilling this temperament within the exhausted, jaded soul, as well as in our youth and children, can be an exhaustively challenging but equally commendable undertaking, to say the least. However, we belong yet to a vaster family that extends well beyond the nuclear paradigm to which we should owe accountability when we take assumptive risks upon their behalf; revolution doesn’t necessitate, exclusively, trumpets , lights and fanfare. Modifications and adaptations, such as protesting in car caravans and other more non-invasive approaches, would be more indicative of a less hyper-conditional regard and consideration for this greater community involved who’s everyday safety is at stake as well; such adaptations and plasticity, ultimately, shall save more lives than they risk and expend, thus far, in fact, they’ve helped us survive fairly efficiently as a species. I suppose, as has been said, the lives we save may be our own, and perhaps, in doing so, we may live to save another’s day. I deeply appreciate this letter and the life-affirmative, kind-hearted intent and temperament it so vividly imbues.

  2. J

    “After the events of the past few years, many people are beginning to learn that the police are not here to save us but rather here to oppress us and carry out the will of the criminal ruling class. They are here to keep order for the people in control, not to provide safety for the people who are controlled. In fact, they are the very mechanism that elites use to continue their global system of oppression.” -Anonymous

  3. NFB

    Is your daughter self quarantining for two weeks? It is one thing for you and your family to think it is worth the risk, but another thing for you to think it is worth the risk for all the other people she will come in contact with after possible exposure to a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease .

    • J

      Those who protested for the BLACK LIVES MATTER cause are well aware that it was worth the risk; and for you attempt to site the pandemic to thwart this cause is pathetic. Besides, dont you people think this is merely a flu?

    • Lou

      Were you as concerned when huge groups of neo Nazis were gathering across the state, very few wearing masks? Every group pic of the BLM protesters I have seen indicated that THEY at least believe in science.

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.