Letter writer: Thousands of small solutions exist for Asheville’s white-supremacy problem

Reading Jerry Sternberg‘s opinion piece, “Gospel According to Jerry: Confessions of a Recovering Racist” [Feb. 11, Xpress], inspired a lot of feelings in me: Irritation, disgust and confusion were the big ones, but there was also a sense of relief. Here is someone with white-skin privilege talking about racism in Asheville, acknowledging that he is a recovering racist and asking about solutions.

I don’t think there is a “superior solution” to Asheville’s white-supremacy problem, but there are thousands of small solutions. For decades, black activists from Malcolm X to Alicia Garza with #blacklivesmatter have asked white people to talk to other white people about white supremacy and racism. So, today, my small solution is to invite you out for coffee to talk about your article. I’d love to hear more stories about your childhood in Asheville, about what got you into recovery from racism and what we can do to put more white people on that path.

Just as an example, you mentioned that white people have been pretty bad emancipators. Dr. Darin Waters, a history professor at UNCA, gave a talk the other day at a local synagogue where he said that enslaved Africans set themselves free – not white people or Abraham Lincoln at all. I had never heard that before, but it sounded true, and I would love to hear what you think. I’d also love to talk to you more about your views on the role of family planning and gun control on race relations, but I would need beer — not coffee — for that conversation.

— Desaray Smith


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40 thoughts on “Letter writer: Thousands of small solutions exist for Asheville’s white-supremacy problem

  1. Actually, it was Thomas Jefferson who freed the slaves by infusing the ideology of individual rights and freedom into the American idea. Now we need to free the rest of us living in involuntary servitude to reach the Promised Land. I may not get there with you.

    • ashevillain7

      Did I read that correctly? You just compared yourself to a slave?

      • bsummers

        Even worse. He was comparing himself to Dr. King. “I may not get there with you.”

        • ashevillain7

          Nope. I made no attack on your character. I just asked you a question. I’m curious about your plight as an involuntary servant and how it relates to the letter.

          • A policy of forcible redistribution of wealth presupposes servitude that is necessarily involuntary. It is a policy that says, before you take your first breath, the fruit of your labor is property of the state. It is a policy that says each individual is compelled to service as a sacrificial animal and that your individuals values are subordinate to those of the mystical authority of society. If a man is compelled to work against his will for one minute or one second, for any cause . . . whatsoever—that is involuntary servitude.

            Now, you define involuntary servitude.

          • bsummers

            “Involuntary servitude” is being kidnapped from your home, shackled, shoved in the hold of a ship, bought, sold, and then forced to work for absolutely no pay until you die. “Redistribution of wealth” is merely a tired old dog whistle from the racist toolkit.

            Claiming that since you choose to be part of a society that shares the costs of our responsibilities, that makes you the same as African-Americans who were forced into slavery… That’s simply grotesque. You are free to go live in the woods. See ya.

          • Jim

            Your problem is the notion that mainly whites are responsible for the irresponsible behaviors of others, And should pay for it. There is a shared resposibility as long as everyone is paying. But when the fatty’s and their 3 carts of junk food are being paid for by others, without a care because free healthcare is included, those paying thus become slaves. And those leeching are the real privileged,

    • hauntedheadnc

      Thomas Jefferson only set four slaves free, and only then because they were his own children by Sally Hemings.

      Nice try.

        • hauntedheadnc

          But the absolute selfishness advocated by Ayn Rand is neither moral, nor does it ascribe any rights. In fact, it has more potential to take them away than most anything else. You will recall that Rand viewed a certain serial killer as the ultimate ubermensch, and while he was certainly living for his own right to do whatever he pleased, up to and including taking the lives of others, that taking of lives certainly ended those lives’ individual rights and freedoms.

          • hauntedheadnc

            Read it and weep:

            “9. Ayn Rand Was a Big Admirer of a Serial Killer

            No exaggerating here. Mark Ames writes, “Back in the late 1920s, as Ayn Rand was working out her philosophy, she became enthralled by a real-life American serial killer, William Edward Hickman, whose gruesome, sadistic dismemberment of a 12-year-old girl named Marion Parker in 1927 shocked the nation. Rand filled her early notebooks with worshipful praise of Hickman. According to biographer Jennifer Burns, author of Goddess of the Market, Rand was so smitten with Hickman that she modeled her first literary creation … on him.”

            Source: http://www.salon.com/2012/08/13/ryans_ayn_rand_obsession_salpart/

          • hauntedheadnc

            You’ll want to take that up with her biographer.

    • David

      So you’re a victim? Is that it? Forced to work for money? Forced redistribution of wealth? In the womb laboring eh?…all for the STATE?! Woah baby…you’re really hating having to get a job it sounds like…suck it up buttercup, ain’t nothin’ in this world for free – no matter how much you whine about it!

    • Grant Millin

      Anonymous Jim and his Gladiator Pit of Pure Darwinism. X-rated for violence.

      What is your final solution for the undesirables, Jim?

      • Jim

        Grant, the real scary part is someone like you is running for council. It shows what Asheville is really all about and what they have to choose from. Intellectual pretenders with no clue. Did you ever get past the age of 16 or do you think vilifying me, and you might just be talking to my lawyer about slander, makes you more electable with blacks? It’s people like you that run for office that are the problem.

        • Tracy Rose

          Hi all, new Mountain Xpress Letters to the Editor coordinator here. Just a reminder that comments here need to be civil and on topic. That said, I think we have reached the end of the line for meaningful discourse on this topic, so we’re closing down the comments on this thread.

  2. John Penley

    Actually it was Harriet Tubman and her allies in the Underground Railroad and John Brown who started freeing the slaves before anyone else.

  3. bsummers

    We have a long way to go. Over at Ashvegas, on the thread about the arrest of the Biltmore Village shooting suspect, at least one person is advocating that we lynch him in Pack Square Park.

      • bsummers

        I’ll take that as a retraction of your libelous comments. I don’t know why you think I’d “cheer” mass beheadings of innocent Christians, but jeez – your world is dark.

      • Jim

        Point being is there are other parts of the world that are barbaric and downright evil. People here have it good and a lot of this garbage being spewed is only because of politics. Nothing more and nothing less. The fracture of this nation along every line imaginable so some scumbag politician, political party, or bureaucrat is insane can have a job and/or be on some kind of power trip is lunacy.

      • Jim

        I’ll add one last thing, blacks should be thankful they’re here. The alternative is growing up in Africa where such figures as Idi Amin butchered his fellow countrymen by the tens of thousands. The self proclaimed Last King of Scotland. Or starving to death. Or having their sons kidnapped and forced into gangs. Or dying of AIDS. Or Ebola. Or some other virus that spreads like wildfire because of the hideous sanitation standards and living conditions. And in that regard, blacks born in America are more privileged then they realize. Maybe the letter writer should travel there and tell them of the conditions blacks face in America because I’m sure those there would look at them like they’re nuts.

        • bsummers

          Yes, “thankful”. And it’s not even a full step, but only half a step down the slope from there to Cliven Bundy, last years ever-so-brief celebrity darling of the right:

          “I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.”


          Yes, there are geniuses among us who think that blacks who live in poverty here in America should not only thank us, but in fact, ought to consider voluntarily shackling themselves back into slavery. They’d be better off, obviously.

          • Jim

            Blacks who live in poverty here do so under the guise of living in it from the cradle to grave courtesy of the US government. It’s really hard to escape it when it’s all you know.

            Poverty in this country isn’t the same in say in Africa. But facts escape you.

  4. bsummers

    I really am torn over which is more disturbing: (A) someone in America in the year 2015, who openly (albeit anonymously) calls for the public lynching of an African-American man who has thus far only been accused of a crime, or (B) someone who deliberately throws a discussion about race off the rails by comparing the unpopularity of his fringe political views to the struggle for civil rights. The words of Dr. Martin Luther King shouldn’t be twisted into a cloak for rightwing fantasies.

    I know: “ad hominem”.

  5. Dionysis

    “blacks should be thankful they’re here.”

    My, that is some statement. It made me stop and appreciate just how much foresight early flesh-merchants and their slave-owning paymasters really were. Why, they must have been clairvoyant. They knew that by capturing, caging, kidnapping and selling these people, they would be saving them from bad guys and other challenges in their own lands a couple of hundred years in the future. Hundreds of years of forced labor, denial of education, of basic rights at all, followed by decade upon decade of bigotry, from denial of basic service to lynchings, have really been a godsend for these ungrateful and short-sighted ingrates. Gee, even three-fifths of a person should be able see that.

    Never mind that these people did not come to America (or any other slave-trading country) on their own, like the forefathers of most everyone posting here did. Minor detail. If only they were smart enough to understand it was all for their own good, they would be thankful.

    • AdHominem

      Feel free to go move back to war-torn, HIV-ridden, ebola-ridden, starvation-ridden, Africa. Nothing is stopping you.

  6. Dionysis

    “Move back…”? Never been there to begin with. But that is a really clever and original line, never having been heard before. And it sure does address the points raised, doesn’t it now?


  7. boatrocker

    Nothing like racial issues to bring out the worst of American humanity on the Internets. It’s curious how none of the ‘go back to Africa what are you complaining about’ types never get within arms’ reach of anyone of color to broadcast their wisdom.

  8. NFB

    I’m guessing by reading all of this here that MX no longer moderates the discussions on its website.

    • Margaret Williams

      We’re not able to moderate 24/7, and many of these comments popped last night, it appears. All commenters need to refrain from name-calling (and other variations of personal attacks), and all need stay on topic.

      • North Asheville

        Hard for other readers to see the comments hijacked by the Tim and Barry Show. Can you set the comment feature so nothing is posted until it is moderated?

  9. bsummers

    I’ve got it! Here’s how everyone can feel better about where they are. Take these two genius theories together:

    A. Whites who pay taxes which then get “redistributed” are the true slaves here, and

    B. Maybe blacks were better off as slaves, or at the very least, should be thankful for having been slaves in the past.

    You see where I’m going with this?

  10. Jim

    Oh and Grant, I find the most vocal whites are also the one’s who grew up spoiled, entitled, and are on some guilt trip complex. But in your case, you’re just acting like a politician, i.e. a bloviated crony, before even winning an election. Especially considering you have no clue as to what you’re talking about.

Comments are closed.