In an email obtained by Skyline, the Buncombe County DHHS Social Services has been holding classes asking “white or light skinned” BC employees to discuss, what social services says, is their “white privilege” and “white supremacy”.
The BC Social Services group is called the “Racial Equity Education Group For White Folx”. The word “folx” in the heading is exactly how it is spelled.
A portion of the email says, ” We recognize that as white/light skinned people we have a lot to learn about how to grow beyond understanding white privilege to actively be responsible with these unearned privileges and utilise them to dismantle white supremacy culture”. See pictures for full email.
Kristen Willson wrote the email. She would not answer any of Skylines questions but her boss, Rebecca Smith, did. Rebecca Smith is the Director of Social Work for Buncombe County. Below is the county’s answers to our questions. –
1. Was the email sent to all Buncombe County employees or supervisor heads? No. This is a voluntary program specifically in our social work department and the e-mail was only sent to the social work team.
2. Are the people receiving the email suppose to instruct their employees on what they have learned? No.
3. Was the Buncombe County Commissioners notified of this email and the course? No.
4. Does Buncombe County DHHS believe that county employees and residents, that are “white” or “light skinned”, are white supremacists? This is an opportunity for our social work team to make sure we understand our own biases so we can do a better job serving our clients.
5. In the email, folks is spelled “folx”. Why? Like “Latinx,” that’s a simple way to show inclusivity regardless of gender.
6. Could you give an example of white supremacy over people of color in today’s time? The pay gap is one example of structural racism.
7. White people voted for Barack Obama for President of the United States. Why does the email say, “We recognize that living in the United States as someone with white/light skin privilege is a diffrent experience compared to living in the United States as a person of color”. Does Buncombe County believe that all white people in the United States are white supremacists? Rebecca Smith did not answer this question.
8. By taking this class, does it enhance an employees chances of receiving a promotion? No.
9. Can a reporter sit in this class? This opportunity is for BCHHS social workers.
10. Where is the class located and and are tax dollars being used for the class? Online. There is no cost for the cost outside of development of training and staff time.
11. By joining this class are people admitting they are a white supremacist? No.
12. Kirsten Willson signed the email with her title of “Neutral Facilitator and Resillency Coordinator.” How can she remain nutrual after she has taken the position that there is white privilege? Out of respect for our personnel privacy, we don’t discuss individual staff roles. Equity is a foundational focus area for the County’s strategic plan. Recognizing one’s privilege is a component to building equity.
13. Is there black racism in Buncombe County? No
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