North Carolina’s Asheville City Council apologized for its role in slavery and racial discrimination, voting unanimously to provide reparations in the form of community investments to help Black residents.
The council voted 7-0 on Tuesday night on the measure to mitigate racial disparities. The reparations will not provide direct cash payments, as some have suggested, but will provide investments in housing, health care and career growth in Black neighborhoods.
Councilwoman Shaneika Smith said the council had gotten emails from those "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," said Smith, as reported by the Asheville Citizen Times.
The resolution calls on the city to create a Community Reparations Commission to make concrete recommendations of where to funnel programs and resources.
"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 reads.
"Hundreds of years of black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today," said Councilman Keith Young, who is one of two African American city council members and spearheaded the proposal.
"It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature," Young continued.
Councilman Vijay Kapoor, who is known to split with Smith and Young on police and budget issues, said he supported the resolution for moral reasons, but urged skeptics to look at the “practical reason” — data showing large disparities 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."