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Asheville city council approves reparations for Black residents in a unanimous 7-0 vote

The question of how to make up for hundreds of years of stolen labor from and economic discrimination against Black Americans has been hotly debated for years. When racial disparities can be traced directly to laws, policies and regulations that prevented Black people from earning or accumulating wealth generation after generation, the only just thing to do is to try to repair the damage.

Enter the idea of reparations, which literally means "to repair" through financial or other means.

Asheville, North Carolina has just taken a big step forward with this idea by unanimously approving a resolution designed to repair the racial disparity among its residents. In a 7-0 vote, the city council apologized for the city's role in historic wrongs against Black people, including slavery and discrimination. It also announced that it will make reparations in the form of investments in the lives of Black people living in Asheville, who make up nearly 12 percent of the city's population.


"The resulting budgetary and programmatic priorities may include but not be limited to increasing minority home ownership and access to other affordable housing, increasing minority business ownership and career opportunities, strategies to grow equity and generational wealth, closing the gaps in health care, education, employment and pay, neighborhood safety and fairness within criminal justice," the resolution states.



Councilman Keith Young, one of two Black members of the council, said, "Hundreds of years of Black blood spilled that basically fills the cup we drink from today," according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. "It is simply not enough to remove statutes," he added. "Black people in this country are dealing with issues that are systemic in nature."

The measure does not specify making direct reparation payments to Black residents, but rather putting more of the city's resources into eliminating racial disparities. Councilman Vijay Kapoor said he voted in favor of the measure for moral reasons, but also referred to the "practical reason," which is that data shows large gaps between Black Asheville residents and other residents of the city.

"We don't want to be held back by these gaps," Kapoor said. "We want everyone to be successful."

Some will undoubtedly ask the question, "Why should people today, who have never owned slaves, pay reparations to people who have never been enslaved themselves?" But that question ignores two things: 1) The deep and ongoing economic impact slavery had on generations of families, and 2) Reparations aren't just about slavery, but also the century-and-a-half of ongoing discriminatory laws and practices designed to keep Black Americans economically oppressed that followed emancipation.

The question of how to manage reparations is a legitimate one, but there should be no doubt that some kind of reparations are in order. If you're still unsure of why, check out Kimberly Latrice Jones' excellent Monopoly metaphor, Trevor Noah's explanation of why poor white people can't h the same argument for reparations, and this video from Ta-Nehisi Coates beautifully testifying to Congress on why reparations are a perfectly reasonable expectation for Black citizens, considering the inheritance of our nation:

WATCH: Ta-Nehisi Coates' full opening statement on reparations at House hearingwww.youtube.com

Thank you, Asheville, for taking this step toward economic justice, to help repair the damage done throughout U.S. history. If we truly want to be the country we say we are, where all people have the same access to "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," we have to honestly address the past wrongs that prevented certain groups from those inalienable rights and make amends to the citizens who have been negatively impacted by those wrongs for generations.

All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

True

We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

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