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North Carolina city votes unanimously to provide reparations and apologize for slavery

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A city in North Carolina has voted unanimously to provide reparations to its black community while apologizing for its historical role in accommodating slavery.

In a 7-0 vote, the Asheville City Council also apologized for racial discrimination and pledged to invest more to help black residents.

The reparations portion of the measure, which, overall, is aimed at decreasing the gap in racial disparities, will not provide direct cash payments, Fox News reported.

Rather, it will go to provide “investments” in housing, career growth and development, and to provide additional health care in black neighborhoods.

Already though, council members are getting some pushback from residents.

Councilwoman Shaneika Smith, who is black, said some residents have sent emails “asking, ‘Why should we pay for what happened during slavery?’”

“[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,” she claimed, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.

“Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today,” noted Councilman Keith Young, who is also black.

“It is simply not enough to remove statues. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature,” he added, according to the local paper.

The resolution reads:

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.

The resolution calls for the establishment of the Community Reparations Commission, which will in turn invite local community groups to participate, as well as local governments. The commission will make recommendations for the use of resources as well as the adoption of programs.

Meanwhile, Councilman Vijay Kapoor, who has parted with Young and Smith on issues in the past including budgetary items and police, nevertheless said he supported the resolution on moral grounds.

However, he added that critics of the program could look also to the “practical reason” for supporting it: Data that shows major disparities between blacks and other residents of the city.

“We won’t be held back by these gaps,” Kapoor noted, the local paper reported. “We want everyone to be successful.”

The resolution goes on to state that “Black People have been denied housing through racist practices in the private realty market, including redlining, steering, blockbusting, denial of mortgages, and gentrification.”

It also claims that “Black People have been consistently and widely impoverished by discriminatory wages paid in every sector of the local economy regardless of credentials and experience.”

“Black People have been denied housing, displaced and inadequately housed by government housing policies that include discriminatory VA/FHA practices, Urban Renewal, and a variety of local and federal ‘affordable’ housing programs,” it also reads.

The resolution makes a number of other claims that, if true, would amount to significant violations of federal civil rights, housing, and labor laws, though it does not reference any cases related to the alleged violations.

Critics of reparations argue they are unfair for a number of reasons, most notably because no one alive today had any direct involvement in the slave trade.

“We shouldn’t blame Germans born to Nazi parents for the crimes perpetrated by the Nazis, let alone Germans born years later. The same is true of those born to slaveholders who rejected the foul practice, and is certainly true of those who are generations removed from the appalling legacy of slavery,” Ian Haworth wrote in a June 2019 column for The Daily Wire.

Jon Dougherty

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