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:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey (center-right) listens while State Superintendent Mark Johnson gives his monthly address to the board.
Jess Clark / WUNC

On Thursday, State Board of Education Chair Bill Cobey submitted his resignation. His resignation will go into effect in September, six months before his term as chair was set to end. This move comes after State Schools Superintendent Mark Johnson shared his reorganization of the State Department of Public Instruction. 

courtesy of Rodrigo Dorfman

Many cultures mark the end of childhood with a rite of passage. And for many Latinas, the transition from girlhood to womanhood often includes a giant party – the quinceanera. A growing number of Mexican families in the Triangle are keeping that tradition alive despite how costly these lavish events can be for low-wage workers. And for the teenagers being feted, the whole experience can make them feel both connected to their heritage and extended family, and like helpless victims of their mothers’ projections. 

Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

Japanese-American multi-instrumentalist Kaoru Ishibashi began classical violin training at around seven-years-old. After a brief stint as a metalhead in high school, Ishibashi tried his hand at electrical engineering at Cornell University, but found himself dedicating more time to his rock band than his textbooks. He ended up graduating from the Berklee College of Music with a degree in film scoring. 

Ben McKeown / For WUNC

Public hearings on environmental issues are often publicized in the back of the newspaper and roundly ignored. But amidst alarm over GenX and other contaminants in the Cape Fear River, Columbus County residents showed up in droves to two public meetings on the proposed use of methyl bromide in a local logging operation. 

Courtesy of Deondra Rose

Many people credit the feminist movement with the striking shift in gender dynamics in the United States over the second half of the 20th century. Women earn college degrees at higher rates than men, and they have also made large political and socioeconomic strides. 

Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

The word “rosé” may conjure up memories of cheap wine from boxes or bottles with screw caps. It used to be sweet, cheap and often passed over by serious wine drinkers. Today, rosé has become as much a lifestyle as it is a wine. Perhaps it’s the vibrant pink color or the change in the way rosé is produced, either way millennials are devoted to the beverage, creating hashtags, blogs and even playlists dedicated to the rosé experience. 

The state was in the heat of the trial of John Edwards when an unexpected ray of sunshine appeared – Rambo. He’s the Maltese-Yorkie mix who took his morning walk  past the news crews camped outside the courthouse. While the Edwards case played out inside, Rambo and his momager Courtney were outside building friendships with the press. Rambo got his first TV interview on WFMY, where he was deemed the unofficial mascot of the trial. 

Emre Tazegul / AP Photo

Last week, North Carolina pastor Andrew Brunson was moved from a jail in Turkey to house arrest until his trial continues in October. Brunson has spent 23 years in Turkey raising a family and serving as an evangelical minister. 

Sarah's grandmother, Pattie Anne Watkins, at age 16 in 1941
Courtesy of Sarah Simpson

Sarah Simpson wasn’t interested in history or her ancestry until she inherited a box of her late grandmother’s diaries from the 1940s, when she was in her late teens. Reading those diaries gave her a different perspective on “Grammy” and helped Simpson realize the similarities between the two of them, especially when she went back and read her own teen journals. 

Courtesy Sönke Johnsen

Sönke Johnsen was always driven by art. As a youth he captured documentary photos on the streets of Pittsburgh and developed them in a homemade dark room. Later he practiced and taught modern dance. But Johnsen's pursuit of artistic awe led him on a surprising path toward biology. Today, as a professor of biology at Duke University, he plunges thousands of feet under the sea, discovering mysterious marine animals that hide in plain sight. He has won multiple awards for his scientific writing, teaching, and mentorship.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

House Republicans on Wednesday filed articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The lawmakers, including Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), say Rosenstein has withheld documents from Congress and has mishandled his job overseeing the special counsel investigation. The move demonstrates a widening division within the GOP on the handling of the probe into President Trump.

Courtesy of Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

When six-year-old Ben arrives in the emergency department of a Rhode Island hospital, the physician who attends to him uses her medical training to try to understand his trauma. But as the boy’s memories start returning, and they don’t seem to be his own, she must expand her understanding of how people are connected and what kind of phenomena might be possible.

Lorenzo Manag / Huemanly

 

 When Tracy Cruz was young, singing was just another language. Her mother and grandmother made ballads out of busy work, oftentimes singing in their native Tagalog as they did household chores. Tracy was born on Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines, but moved to San Jose, California when she was five.

Mitch Prinstein / Penguin Random House/2017

Popularity is often a concern for teenagers, but research shows it also influences life outside the high school cafeteria. Children as young as four years old can identify their most popular peer, and one’s popularity growing up can even predict his or her lifespan.

In the book “Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World” (Penguin Random House/2017), Mitch Prinstein teases apart the distinction between two different types of popularity: likability and status. 

Cover of Coconut, Ginger, Shrimp, Rum cookbook
Brigid Washington / Skyhorse Publishing 2017

Brigid Washington grew up with the Caribbean flavors of her family's native Trinidad. Ginger, coconut, fresh seafood and other ingredients shaped her palate and her experiences in the kitchen.

But food was not an important part of her adult life until, as a dissatisfied writer living in Raleigh, she felt compelled to walk into the kitchen of Bloomsbury Bistro and ask the chef to teach her the culinary arts. That brazen request led to culinary school and a cookbook. “Coconut. Ginger. Shrimp. Rum.: Caribbean Flavors for Every Season” (Skyhorse Publishing/2017) highlights the mainstay flavors of the islands with American fusion twists. 

NC State House
NCGA

Lawmakers returned to Raleigh this week for a special session to determine the titles for six proposed constitutional amendments. The amendments will be put to voters this November and include controversial items like a voter ID measure and a push to limit the governor’s appointment powers.

Courtesy of Onnesha Roychoudhuri / Melville House Books

 

Identity politics are often criticised for being a divisive force in America. But writer and activist Onnesha Roychoudhuri came to a personal realization that they are also key to building important social movements. Roychoudhuri developed this idea after years of working as a journalist and trying to ignore her personal identity in the name of objectivity.

Courtesy of Kurt Gray

The Book of Genesis says that man was created in God’s image. But a new study finds human beings may be returning the favor.

Courtesy of Hope Larson

For decades, dedicated readers have scoured their local comic book stores for the latest issue of their favorite superhero story. But look past the capes and one will quickly come across comics and graphic novels that offer complex and critical analyses of politics and society. From the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” to recent issues of “Black Panther,” graphic novels and comics allow readers to engage with dense topics and relate to diverse characters and experiences. 

President John F. Kennedy in the motorcade where he was assassinated, with Texas Governor John Connally sitting in front of him.
Walt Cisco / Dallas Morning News

Americans know that on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed as he rode in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Many people don’t know, however, that Texas Governor John Connally was riding in the same car as President Kennedy that day and was also hit by a bullet. He was seriously wounded, but he recovered. 

Courtesy of Asha Bala / North Carolina Arts Council

When Asha Bala was born, her mother looked at her and declared that she would be a dancer. Her country, India, was a newborn as well, recently independent from British rule. So many parents were keen to revitalize ancient cultural and spiritual practices like Bharata Natyam dance, once practiced in the temples and based on epic tales and mythology.

The Black Man Running group jog in Wilmington.
Courtesy Black Man Running

Putting on running shoes and heading out for a jog is not a straightforward affair for black men. Runner Rendell Smith remembers a white woman who was so scared when she saw him jogging toward her, she dropped her groceries and bolted.

An image of Peter Lamb and the Wolves with Maceo Parker
Peter Lamb and the Wolves

For their latest album, "Carolina Tiger Milk," Triangle-based jazz group Peter Lamb and the Wolves invited some of North Carolina's most prominent musicians.

The band's guest  lineup includes vocalist Django Haskins of The Old Ceremony, saxophonist Maceo Parker and members of the Mint Julep Jazz Band.  

Courtesy of Martha Quillin / News & Observer

When Hurricane Matthew flooded low-lying areas across Eastern North Carolina in October 2016, thousands of people were displaced. As Martha Quillin writes in the News & Observer, it wasn’t just the living who moved.

Many people gathered at Headliners Barbershop, while one person cuts hair.
Tru Pettigrew

After Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, a national conversation started about law enforcement and communities of color. That conversation was also happening in Cary, North Carolina, at Headliners Barbershop, where the clientele is majority African-American.

Courtesy of Scene on Radio

The 2017 season of the podcast “Scene on Radio” from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University received a Peabody Award nomination for its candid look at white supremacy in the United States.

A copperhead snake
Jeff Beane

With warmer weather and more outdoor activities comes the increase in snake sightings in North Carolina. There are nearly 40 species of snakes in the state with one of the most common being the copperhead. Despite the fact that there are copperheads in every county in North Carolina, there are still a lot of misconceptions and myths about them says herpetologist Jeff Beane

Gage Skidmore/Flickr Creative Commons

Powerful, wealthy organizations like the National Rifle Association might want to buy elections, but campaign finance laws stop them from doing so. At least, they’re supposed to.

Kim Rice wrestling her opponent
courtesy of Kim Rice

A kickboxing class is what led Kim Sarah Rice to practicing Brazilian jiujitsu. She thought kickboxing was fun and she felt strong and powerful while attacking those heavy weighted bags.

Image of Asheville police car
Osajus / Flickr Creative Commons

 

Yesterday, the Asheville Citizen Times revealed the Asheville Police Department has been following local civil rights group since the shooting of Jai “Jerry” Williams two years ago.

Pages