Asheville, NC – The Asheville City Council unanimously voted on Tuesday to provide reparations to black residents.
The council passed the measure in a 7-0 vote on July 14, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.
The resolution’s primary proponent was Asheville City Councilman Keith Young, who is one of two black members currently serving on the council.
“It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature,” Young declared. “Hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today.”
The resolution declared that due to “racist practices” and discrimination, black residents have been “denied” opportunities in essentially all areas of life – including housing, wages, medical care, employment, food, and business ownership.
They have also allegedly been “limited to the confined routes of travel provided by public transportation,” according to the council.
The measure further targeted police and the criminal justice system.
“Black People have been unjustly targeted by law enforcement and criminal justice procedures, incarcerated at disproportionate rates and subsequently excluded from full participation in the benefits of citizenship,” the resolution read.
Councilwoman Sheneika Smith, who is also black, said people have emailed the city council asking why today’s citizens should be responsible for paying for actions others committed “during slavery,” the Asheville Citizen Times reported.
“(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,” Smith responded.
“Systemic racism was created over centuries and will take time to dismantle,” according to the resolution.
Councilman Vijay Kapoor said he voted in favor of the measure because he wants “everyone to be successful.”
“We don’t want to be held back by these gaps,” Kapoor added.
Instead of giving black residents taxpayer-funded payments, the city will instead funnel money into various programs targeting black communities, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.
“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,” according to the measure.
The council has given the Asheville city manager one year to establish “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.”
A Community Reparations Commission must also be established within one year under the measure.
The final resolution included an apology from the city for “participating in and sanctioning of the Enslavement of Black People,” and called upon “other organizations and institutions in Asheville that have advanced and benefitted from racial inequity to join the city in its apologies and…to address racism within their own structures and programs.”
The council urged state and federal governments to follow their lead.
Racial Justice Coalition Community Liaison Rob Thomas called on the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to adopt the reparations resolution countywide, the Asheville Citizen Times reported.
The commission has a 4-3 Democratic majority, according to the paper.