The city council of Asheville, North Carolina, voted unanimously on Tuesday night to apologize for the city’s role in historic discrimination against its black citizens, and offer reparations for their descendants.
According to The Asheville Citizen-Times, the resolution, titled “Resolution Supporting Community Reparations For Black Asheville,” was passed 7-0 and does not offer direct payments, but will instead seek to rectify historical disparities among the city’s black community with investment-based solutions.
Establishing as its basis their unjust enslavement, segregation, and imprisonment, the resolution goes on to list alleged longstanding discrimination against Asheville’s black citizens, such as being denied housing because of “racist practices in the private realty market,” facing impoverishment because of “discriminatory wages paid in every sector of the local economy regardless of credentials and experience,” and failing in schools because of “discriminatory disciplinary practices” throughout western North Carolina.
The resolution also claims black people die in larger numbers because of discrimination from medical professionals who allegedly give them “inadequate, if not detrimental, health care as exemplified by disproportionate morbidities and mortality rates that result from the generational trauma of systemic racism[.]”
The resolution also takes aim at the police, alleging that the black community is “unjustly targeted” by them and imprisoned, for which reason they are prevented from “the full participation in the benefits of citizenship[.]” Among its other claims are that black people have been forced to live near toxic waste sites, are unjustly confined to the routes of public transportation, and are kept from sources of nutritious food.
The resolution maintains that “systemic racism was created over centuries and will take time to dismantle,” and that “state and federal governments have a responsibility to adopt programs, policies, and funding to address reparations.”
To make amends, the city council apologized for slavery and segregation and called for the creation of a Community Reparations Commission that will be “empowered to make short, medium and long term recommendations that will make significant progress toward repairing the damage caused by public and private systemic Racism.”
Asheville, the population of which was 13% black as of the 2010 census, is a staunchly liberal bastion in the middle of the otherwise deeply conservative western part of North Carolina. Protests erupted in the small North Carolina city following George Floyd’s death, which has led to calls demanding that the Asheville Police Department be defunded and that the downtown obelisk commemorating Zebulon B. Vance, the state’s governor during the Civil War, be removed.
HAPPENING NOW: two different groups of protesters in front of Vance Monument
— Taylor Young (@TaylorYoungNews) June 20, 2020
Slavery, though it existed in western North Carolina, was practiced considerably less compared to Virginia, South Carolina, and the eastern parts of the state, where some counties had slaves exceeding 60% of the population. According to the 1860 census, Asheville’s Buncombe County had 1,907 slaves and 283 slave owners, which was about 15.4% of the population.