Asheville still has a large number of nonwhites, including many children, living in concentrated areas (housing projects), and they have extremely unequal chances for employment for the tourist industry jobs, which all go to whites.
Segregation and economic apartheid have been standard operating procedure for all my life in Asheville, and that has not changed. Most whites don’t even notice it or talk about it, and the situation will stay the same because for whites it is much better, and systemic racism works for whites and their children, and most whites in the area, even so-called progressive ones, neither acknowledge it is still a reality nor want to see it change.
Since both my parents have died now — my father, who helped integrate the schools, being the most recent — I have left the area, but I totally believe what I am saying here is true. So shame on Asheville for not moving ahead and changing, even now, after all the years of institutional racism and segregation.
— John Penley
Editor’s note: Penley notes that he also addressed institutional racism in a 2017 letter to the editor.