The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:

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Mona Chalabi

During his campaign, President Donald Trump repeatedly voiced distrust of the national unemployment numbers, calling them “totally fiction" and a “hoax.” He's not alone in his skepticism. A new survey by British polling company YouGov shows many Americans are distrustful of statistics released by the U.S. government and the degree of trust varies along party lines.

MITTO SettembreMusica / Wiki Creative Commons

Musical performances aim to engage audiences and evoke emotions. But how does the message of art change when it is commemorating specific historical incidences of trauma and suffering? The conference “Performing Commemoration: Musical Reenactment and the Politics of Trauma” will examine how art channels memory, re-enactment and commemoration, and how audiences should interpret specific works.

a plate full of biscuits
Christina B. Castro/ Flickr Creative Commons

Many have argued that as regional distinctiveness faded away, Southern identity evaporated along with it.

Political science professors Christopher Cooper and H. Gibbs Knotts studied it, and found that white and black southerners still have a strong and salient sense of what it means to be Southern.
 

LOGAN ULRICH / WUNC

Prominent leaders from the North Carolina General Assembly have taken the reigns and are working to rewrite the controversial House Bill 2. 

Writers and artists: James Boyle, Keith Aoki, Jennifer Jenkins / Creative Commons

For centuries, musicians have borrowed and sampled from each other, creating musical evolution as they advance their own styles and careers. However, with each cycle of musical cross-fertilization comes attempts to police it.

A new comic book, “Theft! A History of Music” (James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins/2017), dissects 2000 years of music history and its legacy of copyright and control.

Bree Newsome is a community organizer and activist from Charlotte
Courtesy of Bree Newsome

Note: This program is a rebroadcast from January 9, 2017.

Activist Bree Newsome gained national attention in the summer of 2015 when she was arrested for scaling the flagpole at the statehouse in Columbia, South Carolina, and removing the Confederate flag. The act of civil disobedience took place in the wake of the killing of nine African-American people at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C.

Logan Ulrich / WUNC

House Bill 2 sparked national discussion after it was introduced in the North Carolina legislature in March 2016. At the center of HB2 was whether transgender people should have the right to use public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity rather than the biological sex listed on their birth certificate. One year later, the debate over HB2 continues.

http://www.artcuriouspodcast.com

Is the Mona Lisa hanging on the wall in the Louvre a fake? Why have some people been driven to insanity after being in the presence of art?

In a new podcast called “ArtCurious,” Jennifer Dasal, creator of the podcast and associate curator of contemporary art at the North Carolina Museum of Art, unravels some of the mysteries surrounding the art world.

Image of folklorist Joseph Hall
Courtesy of Ted Olson, ETSU

More than 4,000 people surrendered their homes and land to create the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The park covers more than 500,000 acres and straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee.

Images of MRI scans
Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities

One in 68 children in the United States will develop autism spectrum disorder, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The field of autism research has grown rapidly in the past few decades, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is at the forefront of much of this discovery

  Note: This conversation is a rebroadcast from February 16, 2017.

Brooklyn-based hip-hop artist Talib Kweli entered the music scene in the late 1990s as one half of the duo Black Star. The group stressed the importance of lyricism and wrestled with systems of inequality through rap. Since then, Kweli has maintained a reputation as a “conscious rapper.” He’s collaborated with other hip-hop artists like Kanye West, Kendrick Lamar and Durham-based producer 9th Wonder.

Actor Meshaun Labrone playing Stokely Carmichael in a new one-man show.
DJ Corey Photography / Courtesy of the Artist

Note: This conversation is a rebroadcast from February 16, 2017.

In the early 1960s, Stokely Carmichael was a relatively-unknown young activist working primarily with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Alabama and Mississippi. But he rose to prominence in the summer of 1966 when he introduced the term “black power” into the national dialogue.

Nina Simone's Tryon, NC, Home Sold to Artists

Mar 22, 2017
A clapboard house sits on a hill in the town of Tryon, NC
Courtesy of BPR News

In the 1930s and '40s, the community of Tryon, North Carolina supported local girl Eunice Waymon on her path to becoming a classical pianist. But she veered far from that trajectory, and eventually became an internationally-celebrated jazz and soul singer known as Nina Simone.
 

The three-room wooden house Simone was born and raised in was preserved by community members and recently purchased by four New York City-based artists.

Guest host Phoebe Judge talks with Blue Ridge Public Radio reporter Helen Chickering about the house and its future.

An image of Duke University Professor Sarah Gaither
Duke University

Sarah Gaither is interested in how growing up with multiple racial identities shapes one’s social perceptions and behaviors. Gaither is an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, and her work explores how racial and gender diversity can facilitate positive relationships within different social circles.

Image of Ken Rudin, the Political Junkie
kenrudinpolitics.com

President Trump unveiled his budget proposal Thursday with an emphasis on increased spending for the military and the Department of Homeland Security. The plan also included cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and eliminates federal funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Some Republican lawmakers are wary of the proposed cuts to the State Department and federal aid programs.

photo of the NC legislature
Wikimedia

A new bill in the North Carolina Legislature proposes changing the juvenile penal system to raise the age of adult prosecution for most offenses. The state is currently one of only two in the nation where 16 and 17 year olds are routinely charged as adults.

Courtesy of The Department of Special Collections at Stanford University Libraries

Flores Forbes joined the Black Panther Party when he was just 16 years old. He became the youngest member of the Central Committee and eventually got involved in the party’s military arm. 

Courtesy North Carolina Commission of Inquiry on Torture

A newly-formed group comprised of former politicians, academics, and community leaders will investigate possible connections between North Carolina and the CIA’s interrogation program.

Aero Contractors, a private aviation company based at the Johnston County airport, allegedly picked up suspected terrorists and transported them to CIA-run black site prisons.

Driving Through a Changing South

Mar 15, 2017
book cover of "Discovering the South: One Man's Travels Through a Changing America in the 1930s."
Courtesy of Jennifer Ritterhouse

In the summer of 1937, Jonathan Daniels, the young, white, liberal-minded editor of the News & Observer, embarked on a driving tour of 10 Southern states. He documented the stories of the diverse people he encountered and hoped to change the national perception of the region.

Courtesy E.C. Hanes

When E.C. “Redge” Hanes was looking for a backdrop for his latest novel, he decided to draw from his own experience. He once raised hogs on a farm with his brother, and he also participated in an environmental study commission looking into the impact of hog farming on North Carolina’s ecology.

Hanes’ new book “Justice By Another Name” (Rane Coat Press/2017) is a tale of love and revenge set in fictional Hogg County, North Carolina.
 

An image of UNCA professors and co-hosts Marcus Harvey and Darin Waters
David Allen / UNC-Asheville

Asheville has been home to an African-American community for centuries. However, African-American residents in Asheville and western North Carolina have historically suffered from systemic inequality and racial disparities.

In the new radio program and podcast “The Waters and Harvey Show,” co-hosts Darin Waters and Marcus Harvey examine western North Carolina’s cultural history and the narratives of marginalized communities.
 

exterior of the NC State Legislature
Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

State lawmakers have advanced a measure that would remove some judicial appointment powers from Gov. Roy Cooper.

They also continued touting a bill that would change opiate prescription guidelines and proposed, yet again, to send 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who are alleged to have committed nonviolent crimes to juvenile courts instead of being tried as adults.

Host Frank Stasio talks with WUNC Capitol Bureau Chief Jeff Tiberii about this week’s activity at the legislature.

Courtesy Rob Dunn

The banana is always in season and always available at the grocery store. A new book explores how the prevalence of the popular fruit is a model for the dangers of a food system that is increasingly dependent on fewer food staples.

“Never Out Of Season” (Little, Brown, and Company/2017) by biologist Rob Dunn, a professor in the department of applied ecology at North Carolina State University, walks readers through the precarious corporate food system and explains how diversity is crucial to crop survival.
 

An image of James Phillips, Stacy Harden and Daniel Michalak of Bombadil
DL Anderson

A few years ago, Durham-based indie-folk band Bombadil decided to do some soul searching. After one of the band members left the group, the rest of the band decided to take a step back and find a new direction. The group eventually picked up new bandmate and worked with a data scientist to create “the perfect Bombadil song.” The band’s new style guides its latest album “Fences.”
 

AP Photo/Alex Sanz

UPDATED 12:11 P.M. ON FRIDAY, MARCH 10

 

North Carolina district attorney David Learner said Friday that two assistant district attorneys no longer work for his office.

 

Learner’s statement is in response to an investigation by the Associated Press that reported prosecutors Frank Webster and Chris Back helped derail criminal investigations into allegations of abuse by church leaders of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale.

 

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