Reparations & Fears of the Unknown - TribPapers

Reparations & Fears of the Unknown

Rumors and allegations about the goings on in the Asheville-Buncombe Reparations Commission could not be confirmed, based on the most recent presentations at official city and county meetings.

Asheville – When there is a difference of opinion, mediated conversations can help each side explain their perspectives, possibly find middle ground, and agree to drop the differences and work together on advancing common concerns in a positive direction. When this doesn’t happen, fears can lead to polemics and conspiracy theories that make the rift appear unapproachable.

Asheville and Buncombe County caused a sensation when they promised African-Americans reparations. This was radical, as reparations are typically viewed as payment for destroying a country and are delivered within a few years of the war. Asheville seemed to be saying the great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren of American slaveholders and anybody who dared to brandish the same skin pigmentation would pay,. even though most of these people considered slavery repulsive and considered themselves to have evolved beyond hatred and racism.

That said, almost two centuries after the Civil War, an estimated 67% of black children are born into single-parent households. Black children continue to perform poorly in school, and there is a perception that black families are more likely to live in poverty. More crime occurs in black neighborhoods, and a disproportionate number of blacks serve time in jail. Black children are taught that they can’t trust the system, and the gulf between misery and success widens.

The movement known as Black Lives Matter capitalized on black despair. They got all kinds of concerned citizens to get out and march for the complete liberation of the black population. The Emancipation Proclamation declared blacks free, but, like Vietnam vets coming home, many still wear mental chains they may never shake. And, for all their good intentions, the marchers were only props in an anarchist scam to make it look like crowds upon. crowds really thought burning down cities was the answer.

According to alleged police intelligence at the time, Asheville was a major target for rioting. City Manager Debra Campbell walked on eggshells as activists issued ultimata at each city council meeting. She spoke gingerly about her conversations with a mysterious group called Black Asheville Demands, and she managed to keep the temperature in the room below the flashpoint. A couple concessions that came out of this were a program to reimagine public safety and reparations.

Attending city and county meetings, one gets the impression this may have been a ruse. After all, the progress reports of the Reparations Commission always sound like project management templates: We are soliciting public input to identify the harms, and we’ve created subcommittees to really drill down on the issues, and they’re starting to develop goals…

Following a recent change in leadership, the meetings of the Reparations Commission appear to be a healthy, constructive, and organized airing of grievances. People talk about ideas for improving poor academic performance, giving low-income families better access to healthcare, providing financial literacy courses, or decreasing incidences of domestic violence, drug overdose, and suicide. These would all make great rallying points with majority approval.

The commission is also interested in making sure unjust practices, like redlining and urban renewal, are not perpetuated. Returning lands to the proper owners, however, is proving problematic, today’s question being why somebody who bought his home in good faith should surrender it to the descendants of eight homeowners who lived on portions of that land before it was resubdivided.

The word on the street is different. One lady told of a presentation she attended in which the presenter said the Reparations Commission was talking about making scholarships and job placements available to only blacks. She also said they were trying to reinstitute segregation. She was afraid. In an isolated incident, a gentleman from another part of town said somebody he knew had told him about the mischievous activities of the Reparations Commission, and they had to be stopped.

These concerns do, in fact, reflect sentiments expressed by edgier members of the commission. For example, the commission repeatedly discussed getting more black teachers, as if believing that trusting only people of one’s own race is a skill worthy of reinforcement. They also spoke about making black business corridors in each part of town, which certainly sounds like segregation. There was also talk about the Asheville Police Department (APD) still needing a lot of reimagining. Whereas the APD has long maintained that it stations officers where the crime is, and that often happens to be low-income neighborhoods, certain members of the black community aren’t buying it. Suspicions were also shared about school resource officers forcing students into the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

Just this week, John North of the Daily Planet took Dr. Dwight Mullen, chair of the Reparations Commission, to task for some comments that seemed to betray racism against whites. North called Mullen at home over Easter weekend to offer a chance to defend his positions before they hit the newspapers.

In sum, nobody’s asking members of the Reparations Commission to take sensitivity training, because the Constitution protects all citizens’ rights to free speech and from cruel and unusual punishment. Since they form somewhat of a quasi-governmental body, however, maybe it’s time for some public relations to dispel myths, share ambitions, and perhaps find inspiration for midcourse corrections.