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Asheville among tiny number of cities to back reparations

July 16, 2020 GMT

ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — The western North Carolina city of Asheville has joined a tiny number of American cities that have voted to provide reparations for their histories of racism and discrimination.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported Thursday that Asheville joined cities such as Chicago and Evanston, Illinois, which have also passed plans to provide reparations.

Asheville’s City Council voted Tuesday to approve reparations that do not require direct payments but will mandate investments in areas where Black residents face disparities.

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Priorities could include efforts to increase minority home ownership and access to affordable housing. The resolution also mentions strategies to close the gaps in health care, education and pay.

“It is simply not enough to remove statutes. Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature,” said Councilman Keith Young, one of two Black council members and the measure’s chief proponent.

State governments are also considering reparations. They include Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. California’s state House passed legislation in June with the Senate expected to review the bill.

“Reparations programs are rare across all areas of government,” Rashawn Ray, a University of Maryland sociology professor and a fellow with The Brookings Institution told the Citizen-Times. “Asheville should be applauded for being a trendsetter in this area that should be the norm.”