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In defense of Black Life


June 10, 2020

The past three months have dealt us unprecedented challenges that will drastically transform the landscape of our community. However, in the last couple of weeks, with the tremendous outpouring of support, demands for justice, acts of compassion and unbridled creativity we have no doubt the soul of Asheville can survive.

However, we can do so much more than just hope this time in our history marks the ear-piercing wail and the earth-quaking death rattle of patriarchal and unfettered capitalism decaying. We can choose to put every ounce of energy and love for humanity in the kitchen we build for the future.

We cannot continue to have our imagination limited by capitalism and the old ways of doing things. We cannot continue to uphold or tolerate the patriarchal ways of oppression, discrimination and genocide. We can work towards becoming a pro-actively anti-racist organization and it will take input and participation from our whole community. The barriers to ownership must be torn down. We’re answering the call to follow the lead of our Black neighbors and communities of color who hold the experience to inform a torrent of visions for what transformational change looks like and whose ideas will help us build a stronger, more resilient and humane city and future.

The Asheville Grown Business Alliance is ready to be part of the rebirth. We recognize we are one of the many white-led organizations in WNC and come from a place of privilege. We will do better and we recognize this moment is one we must leverage. We pledge to work harder, to dig deep into our local resources and help craft the community we want to become. We’re taking time to evaluate our role. We want to involve our community and genuinely seek new voices and perspectives that can help us grow our programs to reflect the change we want to see.

    • We stand behind the Asheville Racial Justice Coalitions call to divest from our police and invest in Black communities. We ask that our city and county prioritize 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.
    • In addition, we are in alignment with Black Asheville Demands for changes to the APD, budget investments, renaming streets and tearing down the confederate monuments. And we applaud our city council and county commission’s joint resolution to remove two Confederate monuments in downtown.
    • We also stand behind CoThinkk’s recent letter and support their vision for a better community.

The past few months have proven the impossible can suddenly become very possible. To our Black community, friends and neighbors, you’re not in this alone, we commit to walking beside you and doing our work.

-Franzi Charen & the Asheville Grown Steering Committee

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