But critical readers, including Jodi Rhoden and Beth Trigg, say the story falls woefully short by emphasizing the ideas of white men. In an open letter to Mountain Xpress published online and being shared online, a growing list of signers say they want to bring attention to the “blatant bias” of the story package.
The most egregious example of this bias is the “Big Ideas” timeline, which mentions 10 individual men by name and only 1 woman, and 10 individual white people by name and only 1 person of color. So for example we see the names of Wally Bowen, Julian Price, and Monroe Gilmour, but not those of Wilma Dykeman, Karen Cragnolin, Issac Dickson, Marjorie Lockwood, Emoke B’racz, Viola Spells, Lillian Exum Clement, Newton Shepherd, Irene Hendrick, Oralene Simmons, James and Barbara Ferguson, Al Whitesides, Annette Coleman, Leni Sitnik, Etta Whitner Patterson, Elizabeth Blackwell, or Marvin Chambers.
The open letter goes on to document the bias, then encourages people to share the big ideas, and the people behind them, that should have been considered or included.
We know that Asheville’s rich history was shaped by many big ideas, ideas that came from communities and people as diverse as our city is today. We are dismayed to see XPress present such a skewed, biased view of the history of our community, a version of history that excludes women and people of color.
In the interest of shining a light on this inaccurate historical record and uplifting and honoring the leaders who were omitted from the XPress’s article, we invite community members to contribute names and “big ideas” important in the history of Asheville that were ignored by the XPress. By compiling a more inclusive list of people and ideas that shaped our community we look forward to presenting a more accurate and less biased history of our community.