Give a voice to the voiceless

Typically, reading the new Mountain Xpress issue on Wednesday mornings is my self-allotted carte blanche to procrastinate for a few minutes and revel in calling Asheville my home.

However, this week's news feature, "Waiting for the Cavalry,” was nothing short of painful — it underscores some systemic flaws that our city has yet to confront about itself. I'm not talking about the police dispatch system.

I can almost forgive your choice of catalyst for the story: a white man in Kenilworth who broadcasted his shock and outrage about slow police response to an emergency call. But your exclusion of voices from parts of Asheville where that outrage is more like routine disappointment is saddening.

I also found the article irresponsible, namely because its angle belies Asheville's complacency with its image as a panacea for privilege, where a problem is only a problem when it affects people in well-represented communities.

Why did take a middle-class white male on Twitter for you to conduct an investigative report about an issue that has affected people of color and economically disadvantaged communities here (and throughout the U.S.) for years? Where was the quote from the black woman in Pisgah View who can't get law enforcement to take her complaints of ex-partner violence seriously enough to file a report

Where was the picture of the homeless heroin addict who died because North Carolina's average emergency response time for overdoses is 22 minutes?

Such individuals are equally a part of Asheville, yet we relegate them to the outskirts of our attention.

I believe in the integrity of the Mountain Xpress, but in the future, I urge you to take on the challenge of including Asheville citizens who traditionally have not been asked to share their input or experience, no matter how unglamorous or uncomfortable the result may be.

Many of us count on the Mountain Xpress for our most intimate and honest local coverage, and the hoppiest craft brew in town could not make me prouder to live here than having a media outlet that sparks discussion and social change by representing everyone.

— Laura Eshelman
Managing Editor Margaret Williams responds: Thank you, Ms. Eshelman, for challenging us to do better. We hoped that, in telling this story, we would encourage others to come forward and share theirs, whatever part of the community they call home. We also hope that this story serves as a launching point for more discussions about the varied issues our city and its residents face. So, pour yourself that hoppy craft brew! You letter does what you want most: “sparks discussion and social change by representing everyone.”

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