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Asheville, NC votes in favor of reparations for Black residents

Asheville, North Carolina, USA (Pom/Flickr)

The city of Asheville, North Carolina, is taking steps towards reparations for Black residents.

Fox Carolina reports the Asheville City Council unanimously passed a resolution, 7-0, Tuesday night supporting reparations for Black people who live in the N.C. city. According to CNN, Asheville is 83% white and 12% Black.

The resolution includes a formal apology for the role Asheville played in slavery, segregation and discriminatory practices, but does not mandate direct cash payments to descendants of slave. The city said it would instead make investments in areas where Black residents face disparities, “forming policy and programs that will establish the creation of generational wealth and address reparations due in the Black community.”

The resolution, titled “Supporting Community Reparations for Black Asheville,” also called on the state and the federal government to initiate policy-making and provide funding for reparations at the state and national levels.

“Anything we do, in my mind, has to out live the emotions of this present moment,” Councilman Keith Young said. “Anything less than systemic change is just feel good politics in the moment.”

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According to CNN, community members at the city council meeting offered mixed reactions. Most residents reportedly voiced their support, while at least one woman argued that the city’s Black police chief, city manager and council members are an “indication that Blacks can succeed in Asheville. So, to dump this all on us white folk — I think is offensive.”

Fox Carolina reports most of the public comments came after the vote.

The full resolution, which can be read here, includes nine steps for the city of Asheville to take:

(1) apologizes and makes amends for its participation in and sanctioning of the Enslavement of Black People;

(2) apologizes and makes amends for its enforcement of segregation and its accompanying discriminatory practices;

(3) apologizes and makes amends for carrying out an urban renewal program that destroyed multiple, successful black communities;

(4) calls on other organizations and institutions in Asheville that have advanced and benefited from racial inequity to join the city in its apologies and invites them to address racism within their own structures and programs and to work with the city to more comprehensively address systemic racism;

(5) calls on the State of North Carolina and the federal government to initiate policy-making and provide funding for reparations at the state and national levels;

(6) directs the City Manager to establish a process within the next year to develop short, medium and long term recommendations to specifically address the creation of generational wealth and to boost economic mobility and opportunity in the black community;

(7) fully supports its equity department, staff and its work, and encourages the city manager to utilize their talents when forming policy and programs that will establish the creation of generational wealth and address reparations due in the black community as mentioned above;

(8) seeks to establish within the next year, a new commission 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. Other local government community organizations may also be invited to have representation on the Commission.The task of the Community Reparations Commission is to issue a report in a timely manner for consideration by the City and other participating community groups for incorporation into their respective short and long term priorities and plans. Accountability for achieving equity will be enforced in the appropriate offices. The report and the resulting budgetary and programmatic priorities may include but not be limited to increasing minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice;

(9) calls on the city manager to give, at minimum, a bi-annual update to the city council on the progress of work performed pursuant to this resolution.

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© 2020 Syracuse Media Group