White folks: Turn your outrage into reparations

As we know, white supremacy is a deadly virus. Patriarchy is a pandemic. Racism is a rancid poison. We lack antibodies against anti-Blackness. Yet we can continue to seek a cure.

There is much to be said about this moment. We are in a time of transition. Empire is crumbling. Collective liberation can be created.

White friends, I am witnessing your outrage and despair being activated. This is necessary anger and pain. Please feel it deeply. Use it to fuel the fire of your activism. This system advantages us and we must leverage our advantages towards transformative change.

As I listen to and learn from Black leaders, I’m thankful for the searing truth-telling of Tamika Mallory. If you haven’t heard this speech yet, please watch/listen:

Sonya Renee Taylor is another clarion voice, here is a link to a recent video of her with a wake up call for white people, trying to shake us out of our default mode of putting our own comfort over all else. Excerpt: “There is a police station in your city that needs to be disrupted. There are white people that need to be organized into action. Go do it.”

Divestment –> Investment

If we want to help create real safety for our communities of color (and ourselves), we must abolish prisons and police, detention centers and ICE. Do the research to understand the ways these institutions are rooted in racism and the protection of property over people. And take consistent steps to divest from them. Towards this, you can follow/support abolitionist organizations like Southerners on New Ground (SONG) and National Bail Out, and check out the resources on Transform Harm, for starters.

In Asheville, here are a couple of specific advocacy suggestions:

  1. There is a nationwide call to defund the police. Locally, Black AVL (an intergenerational collective of Black leaders in Asheville) demands: “50% of the APD’s budget should be invested in long-term safety strategies including supporting Black startups/business, eliminating the racial opportunity gap in Asheville City Schools, and funding an all-civilian oversight committee with the power to hold the APD and individual officers accountable.”

  2. Demand that the APD’s written consent policy apply to pedestrians, not only people in vehicles. It’s hard to believe that this is still not the case. Continued pressure is needed. Click here to email city council.

  3. Support the AVL Racial Justice Coalition, and their work in solidarity with people who are currently incarcerated during COVID-19, including advocating for their release.


Asheville can get real about reparations. The dominant white culture of our city fancies itself progressive, yet actions (and – equally importantly – inactions) have produced worse and worse outcomes for the Black community here, as we continue to benefit from legacies of labor and culture extracted from them.

There are individual reparations we can practice immediately (redistribute your resources and influence!), and larger, system-wide changes we must advocate for. I offer some ideas for Asheville in my essay, “The Road to Repair,” and I am reposting one in this list of action steps.

  1. Read “This moment,” from CoThinkk, and support their call for “a re-occurring line item for 15-20 million dollars annually in the budget and/or all proceeds from all tourism taxes allocated to racial equity, structural change, and addressing systemic racism across the community.” Again, here’s the link to email Council.

  2. Call for the City of Asheville to implement the proposal from the African American Heritage Commission calling for a moratorium on all future development projects involving properties acquired through urban renewal until a comprehensive cost analysis is conducted

    Significant investment in Black property and business ownership is overdue. White Asheville is complicit in the fact the majority of our Black community is isolated in segregated, heavily policed, public housing neighborhoods in homes they do not own. We are complicit in the fact that Black-owned businesses are few. We have created a hopeless situation for Back youth, which I discuss in this essay, “When our babies use bullets.”

    Systemic disenfranchisement is a form of violence. Reparations are due, and this proposed cost analysis would allow us to start to quantify some of that debt for real accountability and repayment.

  3. Click here to sign the ACLU petition for H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to examine the institution of slavery and its impact and make recommendations for reparations to Congress.

  4. Donate to local Black-led organizations, and use your platforms to amplify them. I’ve listed several that I have had the honor of working with on the Community page of this site. Patronize and invest in Black-owned businesses. Mentor and open doors.

To get a broader sense of what reparations can look like, the Movement 4 Black Lives (another organization to follow) compiled a powerful “Vision for Black Lives” with a series of concrete policy demands for various areas, including reparations. This is excellent reading for you as you look for what to do with your outrage. “The Case for Reparations” by Ta-Nehisi Coates is another.

Of course there is much more to discuss.

Make the most of the tools you have.

Here’s to freedom and justice and love.


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post graphic by jason krekel

post updated 6/7/2020 to reflect newly released demands from Black AVL and CoThinkk

8 thoughts on “White folks: Turn your outrage into reparations

  1. Finally got a chance to read this. I really appreciate you and all the work that you do and the way you use your voice.

    Liked by 1 person

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