Asheville City Council Votes To Grant Reparations To The Black Community
In a 7-0 vote, the Asheville City Council in North Carolina voted to provide reparations for Black residents and their descendants, according to a report by USA Today.
"Hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today," said Councilman Keith Young.
The mandate will not make direct payment to Black residents but will instead invest money into areas where Black residents face disparities. These areas include efforts to increase minority home ownership, provide access to affordable housing, increase career opportunities for minorities, strategies to foster equity in wealth, close gaps in healthcare, education, criminal justice, and more.
"It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature," said Young.
The resolution includes a call on the city to create a Community Reparations Commission, which will be used to make recommendations for programs and resources.
In response to why this is necessary, Councilwoman Sheneika Smith said, "(Slavery) is this institution that serves as the starting point for the building of the strong economic floor for white America, while attempting to keep Blacks subordinate forever to its progress.”
Councilman Vijay Kapoor has often been split with Young and Smith on issues of policing and budgeting, but says he supports the new resolution for moral reasons and says others should look at the practical reasons for it, like the data that shows gaps between African Americans and other Asheville residents.
"We don't want to be held back by these gaps," Kapoor said. "We want everyone to be successful."
After the vote, the council allotted one hour for public commentary on the decision. Many were thankful for the council’s decision, including Rob Thomas, a community liaison for the Racial Justice Coalition, who said, "This is a really, really good gesture as far as the foundation of what we can build. The potential of what can come out of this document is amazing."
Thomas says that increasing generational wealth should be the focus of the mandate and encouraged the county and city to work together on bringing this measure to practice. Despite the 4-3 Democratic majority, the Buncombe County’s Board of Commissioners is not clearly behind the reparations measure.
Read the full report here.