Intersectionality Event this Thursday

Here’s an announcement about an event that is being hosted by Just Economics this week. Just Economics is a wonderful organization that advocates for a Living Wage for all employees.

“Intersectionality: looks at the intersections between forms or systems of oppression, domination or discrimination.

Inequality based on race, gender, class, ability, orientation are deeply connected! For example, we know that racism impacts economics when you do not get hired for the job or are turned down to rent an apartment because of your race.

Come explore these intersections through interactive activities and dialogue! Help Just Economics create a performance about intersectionality and our work for justice for our Annual Celebration in December!

Thursday, November 20, 2014
6-8 pm
Dinner, New Friends, and Action
UNITED WAY, 3rd Floor conference room
50 South French Broad Ave., downtown Asheville

Guest Facilitator: Lucia Daugherty, Program Director
Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council

For more information: 828-505-7466 or


AVL Public Housing Documentary

public housing documentary
Nicole Hinebaugh, a wonderful person and a true asset to our community, has started a GoFundMe page for a documentary about people living in Asheville Public Housing. It reads:

“This is a project in collaboration with students from Mars Hill College to tell the stories of people living in Asheville’s public housing neighborhoods. Over 6,000 people live in these communities, and yet many of the public housing neighborhoods experience isolation from the rest of the city, resulting in a lack of knowledge and understanding from the general public about their lives and experiences. This is an attempt to capture those stories along with a look at the work being done in these communities with residents to create positive change in their lives.

This GoFundMe campaign seeks to raise funds to provide a stipend to a public housing resident narrator/interviewer and provide incentives to the interviewees to tell their stories as well as some small ancillary expenses.”

I am so glad that Nicole has undertaken this endeavor – these stories need to be told.

Click here to support this project!


African Americans in WNC

Here’s an announcement about an upcoming educational event that I don’t plan on missing:

The UNC Asheville History Department is proud to host the first ever conference on the History of African Americans in Western North Carolina. The conference challenges widely held assumptions that the African American presence in Western North Carolina has been negligible at best. Presentations, by respected scholars in the fields of North Carolina History, Southern History, and Southern Appalachian History, will reveal the rich and vibrant African American past in the Southern Appalachian region. The conference is free and open to the general public.

Thursday, October 23, 6:30 – 8:30
YMI Cultural Center (43 Market Street, Asheville, NC)
* Reception and Keynote address by James Ferguson, Esquire
* Mrs. Julia Ray will be recognized for the may ways her dedication to family and community has graced our mountain home for 100 years

Friday, October 24, 9 – 5
UNC Asheville Sherrill Center (1 University Heights, Asheville, NC)

Morning Session: 9 – 12
Slavery and Emancipation in Western North Carolina
-Dr. John Inscoe, University of Georgia – Slavery and WNC
-Dr. Steven Nash – Emancipation and WNC
-Dr. LaGarret King – Teaching American History with All American Youth

Afternoon Session 2 – 5
Segregation and Civil Rights in Western North Carolina
-Dr. Darin J. Waters – Racial Uplift in the Era of Jim Crow Segregation in WNC
-Dr. Sarah Judson – The Civil Rights Movement in WNC
-Andrea Clark – “Twilight of a Neighborhood” Photography Project

Closing Evening Reception at 5:00

Sponsored by:
Dean of Humanities Howerton Professor of Humanities, UNC Asheville Humanities Program, Dr. Sophie Mills, NEH Distinguied Teaching Professor in the Humanities, The Wilma Dykeman Legacy, The Dean of Social Sciences, Office of the Provost, UNC Asheville Department of History, UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education, The Interdisciplinary Distinguished Professorship of the Mountain South
african americans in asheville

Two Upcoming Opportunities to Engage/Learn

There are two events coming up that I’d like to share with you.

The first is this Thursday, October 2, from 5 to 7 pm at the Dr. Wesley Grant Southside Center, 285 Livingston Street. The event, hosted by Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council and UNCA’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is “Multi-Generational Conversations on Race, Pt. 1.”  The invite reads: “Join us for our two-part series — a diverse group of panelists will participate in community conversations on race, age, and generational differences in perspectives.”

The second event, “Everybody’s Environment: Voices for Conservation and Community,” will be held on Friday, October 10, also at the at the Dr. Wesley Grant Southside Center. This conference will look at diversity and environmental movements.* The Keynote Speaker will be Melanie Allen, Diversity Director for Conservation Trust for North Carolina. To attend, you must register by this Friday October 3 at

*Deborah Miles of the Center for Diversity Education shared this via email:

“Why a conference on Diversity and the Environment?

Here is a highlight from the recently published “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations” study which surveyed three types of environmental institutions across the US: 191 conservation and preservation organizations, 74 government environmental agencies, and 28 environmental grant making foundations:

The current state of racial diversity in environmental organizations is troubling, and lags far behind gender diversity.

  1. The percentage of ethnic minorities working in environmental organizations has increased over time.
  2. Despite the growth in the ethnic minority population in the U.S., the percentage of minorities on the boards or general staff of environmental organizations does not exceed 16% in the three types of institutions studied.
  3. Once hired in environmental organizations, ethnic minorities are concentrated in the lower ranks. As a result, ethnic minorities occupy less than 12% of the leadership positions in the environmental organizations studied.
  4. Yet ethnic minorities and people of multi-racial backgrounds comprise about 38% of the U.S. population.
  5. The diversity manager’s position is the only position that minorities are more likely to hold than Whites in environmental organizations. However, relatively few of the organizations had such a position.

WNC is a hub of activity for governmental and non-profit organizations with a focus on the air, water, and land that sustains us. Through intentional collaboration we can broaden best practices to improve these statistics in the staff, board members, vendors, and visitors of regional organizations.”

I’m very glad these events taking place! Kudos to the organizers!

Events at Burton St. this Weekend

Celebrating E.W. Pearson, Sr…..

Minority Enterprise Development

med week board members

I am embarrassed that, in my running around lately, I failed to post here about Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, which just ended. This is especially remiss since I am on the MED Committee! My only excuse was that I was so busy trying to promote MED Week on other channels, I forgot to use my own.  That said, it was a very successful week of free events and workshops for entrepreneurs. There was a nice preview story in the Citizen-Times, click here to read it. There will be a wrap up story in the Mountain Xpress, I’ll share it when it is published.

The highlight of the week was the annual awards event, which had great crowd and a truly inspiring program. At the awards event, the MED Committee honored six Western North Carolina minority-owned businesses. The winners were: Phyllis J. Sherrill Minority Entrepreneur of the Year – Sanesco International, Inc., Minority Restaurateur of the Year – Cooking with Comedy, Minority Emerging Business of the Year – Eagle Market Streets Block By Block Industries and CHIVA, LLC, Minority Artist Business of the Year – Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Minority Service Business of the Year – NC Brookhaven Behavioral Health. We showed videos about each of the winners, I will be able to share them here in a few weeks. In addition, The Support Center was honored as Lending Institution of the Year and the Advocate Award went to Deborah Miles of the Center for Diversity Education. An impressive group to say the least!

Why do we have the Minority Enterprise Development Committee? For starters, look at these statistics (using Census data) about ethnic minority business ownership:

City of Asheville compared to the State of NC
Black-Owned Firms 2.8% of population – NC 10.5%
American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms 0.2% of population – NC 1.0%
Asian-owned firms Suppressed; does not meet publication standards – NC 2.5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms fewer than 25 firms – NC 0.1%
Hispanic-owned firms 1.3% – NC 2.7%

Buncombe County compared to the State of NC
Black-Owned Firms 1.7% of population – NC 10.5%
American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms To small to calculate – NC 1.0%
Asian-owned firms 1.3% of population – NC 2.5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms fewer than 25 firms – NC 0.1%
Hispanic-owned firms 1.4% – NC 2.7%

As you can see, Asheville and Buncombe County are clearly behind in the amount of minority entrepreneurship in our area. It is my belief that in this country the game of business is rigged by institutional racism. The playing field is not level. And I believe the status quo will not change with out pro-active efforts like the work of the MED Committee, which offers events and support year round to local ethnic minority-owned businesses. It is vital to advocate for those the system is not designed to work for in order to have a more interesting and vibrant economic and cultural landscape in WNC.

Want to stay in the loop about these efforts?
Click here to sign up for the Minority Enterprise Development Committee email list.

pictured: members of the minority enterprise development committee of wnc

Date My City Lounge at Big Love Fest this Sunday

This Sunday, August 24 from 1 – 8 pm, Date My City will be hosting the “Date My City Lounge” at Big Love Fest. It’ll be a great place to hangout and connect!

Stop by for a free massage, sweet tea, games for grown ups and balloon art for the kids. There will be tours to the YMI Cultural Center to see the “Cash Crop” exhibit leaving the Lounge 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm. Date My City is also hosting performers on the AshevilleFM stage.

Most importantly, the Date My City Lounge will showcase minority entrepreneurs, activists, writers, and artists from our community!

Click here to see a full list of who will be at the Lounge and on the stage.

big love flyer

The Asheville Blade is an Asset

asheville bladeThe Asheville Blade ( is a new online media outlet, which has already covered crucial stories and added important perspectives to community conversations. With a slogan of “cutting to the point,” the Asheville Blade is a bold and necessary voice for our town.

Two recent pieces of note are:

Red Lines – an investigative journalism piece by Asheville Blade founder David Forbes
“Racist government programs shaped Asheville’s ‘urban renewal,’ demolishing homes and pushing out thousands. The results still haunt the city today.”


‘Diversity’ is the New Black – an opinion piece by Sheneika Smith
“Asheville’s current approach to diversity is like putting a bandage on a dirty wound. A better way will require a more politically and economically powerful black community — and the city truly addressing some hard history.

I encourage you to read both of these pieces!
You can support the Asheville Blade for as little as $3/month. I did.

Public Housing Awareness and Advocacy

The Public Housing Advocacy Coalition (PHAC) is a new Asheville group comprised of public housing residents, representatives from community organizations and concerned citizens (including me). One of the things that frustrates me about Asheville is the general lack of awareness about our public housing communities. I am hoping this group will be able to contribute to increased awareness and support.  Click here to follow PHAC on Facebook.

The main focus of PHAC right now is getting the word out about the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville’s (HACA) plan to shift their funding to HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD). There are many possible implications for this, including the fact that it opens the door to a shift to private ownership of public housing.

Below are links to a few articles about HACA and RAD, I encourage you to read them.

The Asheville Blade:

Different roads: the future of Asheville’s public housing

Carolina Public Press:

Asheville public housing agency, residents facing unprecedented overhaul

Asheville housing authority to meet with residents about overhaul concerns

As you can tell from this blog, I am interested in seeing Asheville shift our long time status quo of dysfunctional racial and socio-economic dynamics. There are a lot of good heart-ed people living here that I like to believe can make Asheville a better place for everyone. I’d love to hear your thoughts about strategies for creating this shift, either in the comments below, or via email: amiworthen at gmail.

In the meantime, I’ll keep posting on this blog about groups and individuals that I see taking action in positive directions.

public housing advocacy coalition

Photos by Matt Rose/Carolina Public Press

State of Black Asheville Presentation

This Saturday, June 21, from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm at the YMI Cultural Center, UNC Asheville students from the State of Black Asheville course will present their research on the status of Black Asheville in several public policy areas such as: education, health care, housing & economic development, criminal justice, and culture. The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. If you have questions, email

Click here for the Facebook event page.

state of black asheville 2014


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