Policy, Practice, Praxis

As we untangle and examine the pieces of policy and practice that led us to racial inequities today, here are two very informative locally relevant videos to watch, and a timely call to action related to (you guessed it) the occupancy tax. I’ve also included inspiration for new praxis from Creative Wildfire.

This Divided Land

“This Divided Land” is a video created by Habitat for Humanity that addresses the horrible practice of putting racial covenants in deeds, which I found out since watching were also prevalent in my neighborhood, Montford

As they write, “The home is the primary way Americans build wealth, but laws and systems have kept people of color- especially Black Americans- from accessing homeownership. Nationally and here in Asheville, white homeownership rates are significantly higher than people of color, and the racial wealth gap is just as wide today as it was in 1968 when the Fair Housing Act was passed. After discovering a racial covenant in a deed of a South Asheville property Asheville Habitat developed for affordable housing, Habitat decided to delve deeper and learn more about the history of discriminatory housing practices, how they shaped our city, and how practices like these contributed to current day racial disparities. “

Racism in Property Tax Assessment

And then I invite you to watch this presentation by URBAN3 for the Racial Justice Coalition to learn heartbreaking and critical information about racial and class bias in property assessment:

Timely Call to Action

We have until 4 pm this Tuesday June 29 to submit comments to the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority (BCTDA) about their proposed FY22 budgets which include a record $15 million for marketing. Ack.

As I share this, I am going to once again lift up and co-sign a call made by CoThinkk last year that “all proceeds from all tourism taxes [be] allocated to racial equity, structural change, and addressing systemic racism across the community.” I invite you to join me and others in writing the TDA reiterating this call for such an investment, for all the reasons. Highly unlikely, I know. And still, we can let them know what we want.

Reparations from Recreation [Tax Revenue]

The comment I submitted includes this: The BCTDA has the opportunity to put the over $15 million budgeted for marketing into the Reparations fund. This would be a start of a move towards repair of the inequities embedded in and damage caused by the tourism industry. [This is is aligned with a call from the Racial Justice Coalition.]

Because this tourism machine will most likely keep cranking out extraction and destruction rather than agreeing to fund Reparations, we must also continue to demand that the county commissioners repeal the occupancy tax until those tax dollars can be controlled by the community and not by corporations. 

To submit your comment, email Reply@ExploreAsheville.com by Tuesday at 4 pm. You need to provide your full name and put “Budget Public Comment” in the subject line. 

You can also cc the county commissioners and the County Manager: brownie.newman@buncombecounty.org, alfred.whitesides@buncombecounty.org, jasmine.beach-ferrara@buncombecounty.org, amanda.edwards@buncombecounty.org, robert.pressley@buncombecounty.org, parker.sloan@buncombecounty.org, terri.wells@buncombecounty.org, Avril.Pinder@buncombecounty.org

UPDATE (July 2021): You can click here for the materials from this BCTDA meeting, including around 70 emails criticizing the marketing budget, many calling for that money to go towards reparations. Way to activate, neighbors!

Resist a Return to Normal

“Creative Wildfire is here to spark ALL OF OUR imaginations to create and build a Just Transition that is anything but normal. We all have a role in building regenerative, regional, solidarity economies.

Creative Wildfire is a collaborative call to collective action from frontline communities, represented by Climate Justice Alliance, Movement Generation, and New Economy Coalition.

The Global Pandemic and the continued injustice toward people and the planet is changing life as we know it. So much is being lost, taken away, or destroyed. We say: enough is enough.

As parts of our world re-open, we’re told it’s safe to return to “normal.” 

But what is normal, really?

Normal is careless.

Normal is ableist. Normal is profit over life. Normal is having a boss. Normal is not getting paid what you deserve. Normal is the theft of land and life, and the myth of white supremacy.

Normal is what got us into this mess in the first place.

As communities on the frontlines, we study and learn from the freedom dreams and actions of our elders and ancestors. The ones who sowed the seeds to restore community self-determination that we see sprouting up today. The ones who broke the rules to change the rules. We carry forward their labors of love and struggles for dignity, inspiring us to prepare and plan for the ecological ruptures that they knew were coming. We carry the strength and wisdom of our lineages to create the worlds we need, again.”

Visit creativewildfire.org for more, including a bunch of great resources. 

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