I live in Pisgah View Apartments, along with my wife and three daughters. During my seven years here, I have seen some horrible things; I have also seen some absolutely wonderful things that give me great hope for the future of Asheville and humanity. But I have seen so much emphasis and media coverage of the negative, and I wonder why an equal amount of time and space is not given to the good things going on here.
If I insinuated that the bias in reporting is racist in intent, there would be a hue and cry that I am playing the race card unfairly. Yet with all the bumper stickers that proclaim “End Racism,” it seems someone would stand up and admit that this practice—which all but a few diehards claim to deplore—is the catalyst that has caused the breakdown in the African-American community.
By no stretch of the imagination am I saying that anyone is guilty for the bad choices being made in my community—after all, we may not choose the conditions under which we live, but we are responsible for the way we choose to overcome them.
What I am saying is this: There is no superior race, but there are superior people in all races. When will those who have the power and authority focus on those who do care and who do want to be a part of a positive change, rather than point at the few (yes, it is only a few) who make the bad choices and use those few to continue to subjugate a people?
I lose count of the news reports of increased funding for more police or a new jail, yet I know it costs more to house a human being in prison than to educate them.
We have a member of the City Council who has made it his life’s work to eradicate drugs in public housing, yet all he has placed in our community to fill the void of the drug dealer are some trash cans. Like it or not, the drug dealer is a source of income to many, and the sale of drugs is about economics. Ask any drug dealer if he or she had a choice, would drug dealing be their first choice—the resounding answer would be “No!” The truth is that the government of this great country has declared that a family of five making less than $50,000 a year is living in poverty. In this community, most of us live on less than $10,000 a year. What do you call that? Ultra-extreme poverty? Yet when there was a push to raise the minimum wage, we all saw the resistance.
Perhaps the greatest mystery to me is the number of whites that are flocking to Africa. The same people don’t even have the decency to own up to their racism here, but are so concerned about dark skin halfway around the world. Do they fear becoming victims of the uncivilized nature of those their very ancestors deliberately stole, destroying all vestiges of cultures and beliefs, forbidding the right to education and even the right to their own offspring? This is not ancient history. This is still going on. It is done now by social-service agencies and the criminal-justice system. It is done by using a different yardstick to mete out punishment and judgment when someone’s skin is dark.
I implore all of you who marched to free Mumia to look right here at home. See that injustice is only a step away—in the Buncombe County Jail.
— Robert K. White
Editor’s note: The author of this letter was an originator of the community-gardening project at Pisgah View, covered in “Planting Seeds: Pisgah View Gardening Project Grows More Than Food.” [“In and About the Garden,” July 5]