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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Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press

For decades, politicians have used coded language to talk about race without addressing it explicitly. Terms like "welfare queen," "illegal aliens" and "thug" are used to elicit responses from target audiences without directly addressing race. The practice is known as "dog whistle politics." However, critics of President Donald Trump argue his rhetoric is antagonistic and divisive when it comes to issues of race and inequality.

Image of teacher Angie Scioli
At Large Productions

Teachers are a common subject in Hollywood films. Portrayals of teaching range from the unorthodox style of Robin Williams’ character in “Dead Poets Society” to the dull and droning econ teacher in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” A new documentary film about a veteran North Carolina teacher explores how popular culture’s portrayals of the teaching profession are a far-cry from what happens in most classrooms around the country day-in and day-out.

A promotional still with John Wayne and Claire Trevor from the 1939 American Western film 'Stagecoach'.
Wikimedia Commons

A gun-slinging cowboy on a mission of revenge takes down the enemy in a quick-draw duel.  He then rides off on his trusted steed with the setting sun casting long shadows on the rugged landscape. This is one of the iconic narratives in Western film, a genre which has gone through a massive evolution since its “good versus evil” and “cowboys versus Indians” days.

Courtesy Triad City Beat

Hundreds of residents from Winston-Salem joined prayer services at three mosques in the Triad area on Friday. The outpouring of support for the Muslim community was a reaction to violent, anti-Islamic speech that emerged from a meeting between far-right conservative activists held in Kernersville, North Carolina.
 

'Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship' (UNC Press/2016) explores the legacy of North Carolina's first nurse-midwife.
UNC Press

Lovie Beard Shelton was a pioneer in her field. As the first registered nurse-midwife in North Carolina, she helped birth more than 4,000 babies born to mothers from diverse backgrounds.
 

Folklorist Lisa Yarger first met Beard Shelton in 1996 and spent the following 20 years documenting her life. “Lovie: The Story of a Southern Midwife and an Unlikely Friendship” (UNC Press/2016) is the culmination of that journey.

Duke University

Makeba Wilbourn has been immersed in the subtleties of language since she was a child.

As the daughter of a northern white mother and southern black father, she constantly changed the way she spoke to her own family. And as she grew older, she realized she had to be an expert at code-switching in order to succeed as a biracial woman.

Today, Makeba studies how children develop those differences in language, and how that might contribute to our racial biases.

Image of bathroom sign
The LEAF Project / Flickr Creative Commons

State lawmakers have filed a bipartisan bill to repeal House Bill 2 with some conditions.

The proposal got immediate backlash this week from other Democrats and LGBT rights groups who want a clean repeal of HB2, and it is not clear whether it has enough votes to pass.

Meanwhile, a committee in the state Senate has voted to issue a subpoena for Secretary of Military and Veterans Affairs Larry Hall after he failed to show up at three confirmation hearings.

Two dancers Fana Fraser and Beatrice Capote strike a youthful pose in a photo for the dance piece 'Black Girl: Linguistic Play' choreographed by Camille A. Brown.
Christopher Duggan / Courtesy Camille A. Brown

A new dance piece by choreographer and educator Camille A. Brown digs into the nuanced way black girls play and communicate. “Black Girl: Linguistic Play” documents the historical roots of street games like double-dutch, stepping, and tap. It also examines how they’ve been used to connect and communicate for centuries. 

Eric Kelley

Daniel and Lauren Goans have had a busy five years. They got married, formed the band “Lowland Hum,” and recorded three full-length albums and an EP.

Matt Sayles / Associated Press

Earlier this month, pop singer Adele took home the Grammy for album of the year for her album “25.” Many people, including Adele, believed the award should have gone to Beyonce for the album “Lemonade.” But Adele’s accolade is in line with how Grammys have been doled out in recent years; a black artist has not won album of the year since Herbie Hancock in 2008.

Public Herald / Flickr Creative Commons

  The proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline would span approximately 600 miles across three states. The pipeline is a joint project between Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, Piedmont Natural  Gas and Southern Company .


Parents Circle: Palestinian-Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace

Robi Damelin and Mazen Faraj lost a son and a father in the fighting between Israelis and Palestinians.

Instead of fighting back, they gave up revenge for reconciliation. They have resolved to use their pain to help others heal instead of instigate violence.

Courtesy of Frank Stephenson Jr.

Moonshine has shaped the culture and economy of North Carolina for hundreds of years. In the 19th century, sales from moonshine helped fund Civil War efforts, while in the 20th century, moonshine jump started the careers of prominent NASCAR drivers. North Carolina writer Frank Stephenson Jr. considers himself a lifelong student of moonshine. As a youth, he joined his father, a part-time deputy, on moonshine busting raids.  As an adult, he set out on a quest to explore the legacy of moonshine throughout the state. 


Donald Trump speaks at press conference
AP/Evan Vucci, File

North Carolina Republicans could have a bigger role in the Trump administration's policies than they anticipated.

President Trump recently approached Rep. Mark Meadows, chair of the House's far-right Freedom Caucus, about revamping the tax code. Presidents usually take such matters to the House's Ways and Means Committee in the early stages of the process.

Courtesy St. Martin's Press

Haider Warraich is only 29 years old, but he is no stranger to death. Throughout his training as a doctor, he has witnessed the death of multiple patients. Warraich was trained in the appropriate medical response to death but remained stumped by a multitude of bigger questions about the process, such as what role does religion play in a hospital, and how does social media change how we process death and dying?  

Brandon Eggleston

In his new novel “Universal Harvester” (Farrar, Straus, Giraux/2017), writer and musician John Darnielle revisits an era about 20 years ago when video rentals were in high demand. The book features a young man named Jeremy Heldt who works at a video store in rural Iowa. Heldt discovers that somebody is splicing mysterious footage into some of the tapes.

Krista Tippett, host On Being
Peter Beck

Many people think that listening means just being quiet while someone else talks. But public radio host Krista Tippett says it an art form that must be practiced.

smiling headshot of ken rudin
Credit kenrudinpolitics.com

President Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but they two leaders offered little indication of policies for what Trump had described as a "great" peace deal. Meanwhile, new reports show Trump campaign officials repeatedly communicated with Russian officials.

An image of Principal Chief Patrick Lambert
Holly Kays / Smoky Mountain News

Earlier this month, the Tribal Council of the Eastern Band of Cherokee voted 9-3 to begin the impeachment process for Principal Chief Patrick Lambert. The vote exposes divisions rippling through the tribe’s governing body.

In January, the tribe’s Office of Internal Audit completed an investigation into contracts and human resources proceedings within Lambert’s administration. Members of the Tribal Council who voted for impeachment have used the results of the investigation as support for impeachment.

Courtesy Michael McFee

Poet Michael McFee is known for creating rich images of his native Appalachia that are grounded in the simplicity of everyday life and in the unique language used by his family over generations.

In his new collection, "We Were Once Here" (Carnegie Mellon/2017), the cast-iron skillet, chewing tobacco spit, and linguistic peculiarities of the mountains become anchors for stories woven from memories.

VG Photography

Comedian Aparna Nancherla is well known for her absurdist wit and introspective reflections. Her style is captured perfectly on her Twitter account, where she shares one-liners like, “I like to call therapy baggage claim,” and, “I once dated an apostrophe.Too possessive.”

Courtesy City of Greensboro North Carolina Police

Like many other law enforcement agencies around the country, the Greensboro Police Department is working to improve community relations while facing a period of heightened tension between police and the public, particularly with marginalized communities.

Host Frank Stasio speaks with Greensboro Police Chief Wayne Scott about the unique challenges his department faces along with the continuing battle over policies surrounding access to police body camera footage.

Felipe de Jesus Molina Mendoza speaking at a protest against the Trump administration’s immigration policies in Raleigh.
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

UPDATE: Immigration officials in Charlotte have delayed the deportation order for Felipe de Jesus Molina Mendoza until a federal appeals court renders a decision on his asylum case. 

Mexican-born Felipe de Jesus Molina Mendoza is asking for asylum in the United States. He says he faces harassment if he is forced to return to Mexico because he is openly gay. Last time he was in Mexico, Molina Mendoza says he and a former boyfriend were attacked with beer bottles because of their sexual orientation.

An image of Abdullah Khadra and his family
Abdullah Khadra

Abdullah Khadra and his family are originally from Syria and currently live in Raleigh on religious worker visas. Last fall, Khadra and his family traveled to Lebanon for a family emergency. But while they were there, the visa expired for Khadra’s three-year old daughter Muna.

Now, Khadra and his wife are struggling to get their daughter on a plane back to the U.S. and they are having difficulty because of President Trump’s executive order.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Khadra about his family’s struggle to bring their daughter back to North Carolina.

Courtesy Marsha Gordon

Starting in the 1950s, filmmaker Sam Fuller produced war films that gave his characters room to question the design of war and their role in it. He also raised conversations about equality of men on and off the battlefield. North Carolina State University film professor Marsha Gordon authored a new book on Fuller's work called, "Film is like a Battleground" (Oxford University Press/2017) that explores his legacy of genre shifting war films.

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