Transitions to a sustained effort: Advancing Racial Equity in Asheville.
Earlier in 2020, the City of Asheville voted to establish a program of reparations for African Americans who, for generations, have been harmed by systemic as well as individual and deliberate acts of discrimination. From Jim Crow laws to Urban Renewal of the 1970s, societal inequities have denied Black Americans equality, equity, opportunity, and equal treatment under the law.
When City Council agreed on the broad framework of reparations, Asheville City Manager Debra Campbell said the city’s 30/60/90 Day Plan was only the beginning and would serve as a foundation for a more holistic approach to incorporating racial equity into city operations. At the Dec. 8 City Council meeting, she unveiled the next step toward advancing racial equity in Asheville.
In her report to Council, Campbell outlined current steps the City of Asheville is taking to foster social, economic, and environmental justice through city investments, service delivery, programs, and partnerships.
New Services and Programs
Office of Data and Performance: The City of Asheville will launch a new cross-departmental team charged with tracking what city programs intend to achieve, how they expect to achieve it, and whether they are being successful. Its members will follow the data to chart outcomes in a way that promotes transparency, accountability, and racial equity.
New Neighborhood Services Specialist: The person in this position will build and strengthen relationships with neighborhoods while serving as a community and neighborhood information resource. Intentional emphasis will be placed on co-building leadership capacity in historically disenfranchised neighborhoods. The position will also coordinate problem-solving efforts with city departments, community agencies, and community stakeholders to address neighborhood concerns and needs. It will be housed in the Communication and Public Engagement Department, and applications will be accepted through Dec. 14, 2020.
2021-2022 budget: There will be purposeful focus on service delivery and investments that advance racial equity as the city develops its 2021-2022 budget. Toward that end, the city will bring back the consultants used for the first round of engagement, “Reimagining Public Safety in Asheville.” The proposed budget recommendations will focus on investments that pursue social, economic, and environmental justice.
“In short, we are applying a social, economic, and environmental justice lens to all that we do in service to our community,” said Campbell. “Moving forward, our community can expect more communication on how we are specifically affecting change in these three areas. And even with these new steps, we understand that true change means we must work together as one community and acknowledge that change takes time.”
Look for an informational webpage to launch soon on the Advancing Racial Equity in Asheville program.