Letter: Share power, respect and resources with Black Asheville

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am proud that our city has made the decision to go forward with reparations for Black Ashevilleans. If you read the resolution passed, you will begin to understand that even aside from the atrocity that is slavery, the city of Asheville has wronged its Black citizens in many ways, including systemic oppression around housing, health care, education, commerce, the justice system and the accumulation of wealth.

I invite you to visit our Register of Deeds website and do an online records search using the firm name of “Redevelopment.” There are 500 entries around Asheville commandeering property in the name of progress just since the 1960s, and the names are right there.

If Asheville is serious about attempting to right some wrongs, we must do much more than offer investment in programming and community. In our plan to build generational wealth for Black Ashevilleans, we can look at direct compensation for families and descendants with history in Asheville.

We have repeatedly heard the call to defund the police by 50% and spend those dollars elsewhere to support the community. Taking this action would offer some much needed funding to get us closer to truly helpful resources and/or direct payments or land grants.

We could give the East End, Eagle Street, Southside, Hill Street, Burton Street and Stumptown back to Black Asheville. That would go a long way toward increasing wealth for the Black community. Letting them have the land “redeveloped” within my lifetime might also dramatically cut down on some of the police issues we have, since the housing developments we created seem to be a large part of the problem, according to “Asheville Arrest Data Suggest Discrimination Against Black People” by AVLWatchdog.org. The police issue petty citations to justify their presence in the projects, which begins a snowball of punishment and stereotypes that has gotten us here today.

We could use some of that money to bring back the excellent education and Black educators that the Black high school used to offer and expand on down to prenatal care, because we need a holistic fix for this education opportunity gap to close, not just a little extra homework help.

It is not a mystery why Black Asheville is and has been suffering. They’ve been educating us all along with their stories, trainings and receipts from history. White Asheville hasn’t been listening — until perhaps now.

Let’s keep listening to the leadership of Black Asheville as we attempt to right some of the wrongs perpetrated in the name of our city (and county) government. Apologies and acknowledgements are a good place to start. Listening and dialogue are a good place to start and to truly put meaning behind the word “reparations.” We as a government and people must give Black Asheville the power, respect and financial resources they are due.

We also need truth and reconciliation with the Cherokee people, but that will have to be another letter and time.

The time right now is to share power with Black Asheville, return and build wealth in a meaningful way for Black families and provide funding to get this important process started.

— Amy Meier


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18 thoughts on “Letter: Share power, respect and resources with Black Asheville

  1. Enlightened Enigma

    wow…so Amy, WHY do you think that the housing developments that ‘we’ created seem to be a large part of the problem? WE absolutely love it that you have included this statement…

    Please expound on your reasons NOW !!! I could speak for hours about it. Anyone else care to comment about Asheville’s biggest problem?

    • bsummers

      wow, Fred Caudle. It always seems that you have a personal grudge against Asheville housing developments. Why is that?

  2. whoever

    Unfortunately, the USA is on a crappy adventure to create a preppy white anglo new tomorrow. African Americans are merely a symptom of the abuse of the rise of a new preppy class of white anglos, one which is not merely content to go to football games but has to invade every area and street of life. No one who is not golf-visored and khaki short wearing is safe. The new trend is not just SUV’s, but they drive in Black Mariahs, these new giant black mobiles that look like 1920s police cars. The real question is where to go to escape them, as they aren’t leaving.

  3. eagle observer

    I live on Eagle Street. Frankly, the big new Eagle street building is a low income building that has a lot of black people living in it. I moved into this Eagle building before the Foundry Hotel was being built up, and before the South Market condos were built in front of Triangle park. I called South Market before they were built. It was an out of state developer and they curtly told me that it was condos and not low income at all. Personally, I saw an increase of “preppy” people after Foundry Hotel was finished. That hotel pretends to not be racist and has a sign in the window. But it’s like white people sitting at the tables. Blacks, if they are in there are serving those preppies. The inner court now also shows an increase in wealthy white people. Frankly, I would rather see a homeless person vomit in front of my building than see one of those preppy kids. I’m as clean cut as the next guy, but these jokers have that very preppy edge about them. The restaurant with street tables also attracts an undesirable type of rich person, often in overly light colored clothing and oversized car. I personally think you will never get rid of that foundry hotel. It’s a gold mine.

      • eagle observer

        I don’t really take this city too seriously. It’s like any town around where there is lack of affordable housing, the economy is based on tourism, there is latent racial tension, resentment to new hotels, and artists feel displaced. It could be portland maine or anywhere – anywhere there are white americans. Interestingly, I’ve been studying Brownsville Texas. They have a population of nearly 200 thousand, mostly Mexicans, no housing shortage, and it is very low cost to live there. I noted that unlike places with more white people, they don’t create boutique hotels or fancy restaurants. Many of the restaurants and shops downtown are discount clothes and greasy spoon types. For me, this seems much more interesting as an artist. As well, they have a very nice public bus station downtown that puts the little metro stand in asheville to shame. For me, it’s clear that white americans pursue “the american way of life”, to own cars and houses and make over priced restaurants and breweries. There is no escaping this trend while you live with Americans instead of the more down to earth mexicans.

  4. indio

    If interested in Cherokee or indigenous people in general, I made a language based on Choctaw as a kind of new lingua franca. It’s basically a collection of words and morphemes from a variety of indigenous languages. I made it here in Asheville. I received some assistance from Nahuatl speakers online in Mexico. That is if you are serious about altering the Anglo-American cultural of colonialism, the English language is a major barrier.


  5. Fitz

    Free hand outs is not going to change a single thing. Maybe use that energy to create solid jobs so people can pull themselves up. Not the crap industry you liberal woke folks created here. Not in Asheville, we want handouts.

  6. Liam

    Your issues are with the past and current city (and county) officials- they make the decisions on the direction of Asheville and Buncombe County. I bet it would be difficult to find a single citizen (this does not mean visitors) in this city that believes all the development that has occurred and, is underway, provides any type of improvement to the city. On the contrary, most people seem to dislike all the growth. Sure, there are great restaurants and breweries but their costs have skyrocketed. As a working, tax-paying citizen of this city, I am not interested in paying for the decisions made by city leaders. Your article leads me to believe maybe it’s time for blacks to develop some kind of sovereign nation within the U.S. You can educated yourselves with black teachers, manage crime with black police, have only black political leaders, black-own businesses, etc. and, you can pay for all of that through your own income and property tax system. This would allow you complete control of your own society. If something isn’t right, you can look within to fix it.

    • luther blissett

      The people who think that they’re making edgy arguments are often telling on themselves. I mean, you’re in Malcolm X territory.

      Wilmington’s Black middle class was driven out by the 1898 coup. Tulsa’s Black business district was literally firebombed. The Black business districts in Durham were urban-renewed to create highways for white suburbanites taking advantage of subsidized mortgages. The legacy of urban renewal in Asheville is self-evident. Black homeowners’ property tax assessments are typically higher than their homes’ market value. The first draft of the I-240 redevelopment plan just happened to cut through Burton Street.

      It’s pretty glib to talk about self-sufficiency without talking about intergenerational wealth.

      • Enlightened Enigma

        yes, and remember it was the Roosevelt socialist democrackkks who forced the poor into public housing…and just look at the shit now…

        • luther blissett

          It actually doesn’t matter which party “did it”. It was done. The people who did it thought that white ditch-diggers should be helped to become property-owning citizens and were okay with whites-only housing developments. What’s to be done about it?

          When modern conservatives wave around the segregationist history of southern Democrats — well, duh, some of us actually read books — they’re really saying “nothing to do with me!” even when they probably have actual wealth from a subsidized home loan or college tuition — either personally or one or two generations back. And they’re also saying that the Civil Rights Act and Fair Housing Act were nothing to do with them.

          (And they’re showing that the modern white landlord class adds nothing of benefit to society, and yet one of them is president.)

  7. seg

    The fact does remain that they [african americans] lived in the east end because it was the segregated part of town. According to modern political social theories, making it black 100% again would only be return to segregation. Instead, they should demand mixed-race housing to prevent the area turning into an all-white segregated place.

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