A Note on Language

Words are powerful. As we share the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail, we strive to use language that is accurate, empathetic, and humanizing. While visiting our trail stops, or perusing our website and app, you may encounter terms related to history, locations, and people that are unfamiliar to you. This page is a resource to provide context for this intentional shift in language. It will be updated as needed, as we continue to follow the best practices in the field of public history.

Enslaved vs. slave: We use “enslaved,” instead of “slave.” This phrase focuses on the individual humanity of enslaved people, rather than defining them only by their legal status as chattel property. The adjective “enslaved” also emphasizes that enslaved people were held captive by the actions of another.

The capitalization of race: We capitalize “Black” and “White” throughout this trail. We believe that not capitalizing the word “white” indicates that it is the neutral or standard, which in itself can be seen as diminishing. Capitalizing all racial identities is not meant to elevate one above another, but to provide context.

Locations: This trail is broken down into separate walkable sections through three historical neighborhoods: Downtown, Southside, and the River Area.

These designations are intentional. In partnership with the Asheville Black Cultural Heritage Trail Advisory Committee, we call these neighborhoods by their original names given by the Asheville Black community. Today, Southside is sometimes referred to as “South Slope.” The River Area is also known as the “River Arts District,” a newer designation for what was once also part of the Southside neighborhood.

Additional Resources

National Museum of African American History & Culture, Talking About Race

Center for the Study of Social Policy, Recognizing Race in Language: Why We Capitalize “Black” and “White”

National Institutes of Health, Race and National Origin

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