The State of Things

M-F 12 Noon, M-Th 8p, Sat 6a

Host Frank Stasio.
Credit Ben McKeown / For WUNC

We bring the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you. We are a live show, and we want to hear from listeners. Call 1-877-962-9862, email sot@wunc.org, or tweet @state_of_things. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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Line of police officers in riot gear face a line of kneeling protesters.
Jason deBruyn/WUNC

For the last three nights, people in communities around North Carolina raised their voices and demonstrated against police brutality against black people. The death of George Floyd sparked these protests in the Tar Heel state and around the country.

A bus stop is covered with signs, posters and flowers in remembrance of George Floyd, who died in police custody.
Creative Commons

As of June 2, The Washington Post reports on-duty police officers have shot and killed 422 people in 2020 — on par with the average number of fatal police shootings in the U.S. despite the way the coronavirus pandemic has changed or slowed down everyday life. 

Mugshot of Chauvin.
Courtesy of Ramsey County Sheriff's Office via AP

On Memorial Day, former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, leaving it there after Floyd lost consciousness and became unresponsive. 

Courtesy of Jessica Yinka Thomas

Jessica Yinka Thomas grew up in both the United States and West Africa. Her father, a Nigerian economics professor, and her mother, an American computer scientist, raised their four kids between Miami, Nigeria, Senegal and eventually Maryland to get them ready for college in the states.

Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post via AP, Pool

Perhaps you are grateful for the lack of election news. While coverage of presidential primary contenders started back in 2018, former Vice President Joe Biden has all but disappeared from the news. 

Courtesy of Blair Publishing

Twenty-five years ago, renowned poet Lenard D. Moore invited a group of his peers into his basement for a session of writing critique. That monthly gathering evolved into the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective, which has supported over 60 writers across a variety of styles through their careers. 

Deuel News Co./UNC Libraries Commons

Coming of age in a decaying milltown is a common American recipe for brain drain. While growing up in Canton, Zeb Smathers anxiously watched his community struggle with the fallout from globalization. 

Workers cutting meat
U.S. Government Accountability Office

Meat processing facilities in North Carolina have seen coronavirus outbreaks among their workers, disrupting supply chains and causing concerns about meat shortages. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services told a North Carolina news collaborative on Tuesday that there are 2,146 cases in 28 outbreaks at meat processing facilities. 

A pregnant woman holds a yellow face mask over her midsection.
Marco Verch/Creative Commons

Pregnancy and postpartum experiences can already be rife with anxiety. But since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, expectant and new mothers’ anxieties have heightened exponentially. 

Brooke Bust-Webber/WUNC

Summer for many families in North Carolina is filled with beach weekends, getaways to the mountains, bountiful produce and other fun in the sun. But how much of that will be possible this season with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic?


Frank Taylor/Carolina Public Press

In North Carolina it is unlawful to separate a child from a biological parent without the oversight of a judge. But in Cherokee County, a grand jury has indicted at least three current and former Department of Social Services officials for allegedly doing just that. 

Nursing home residents sit around a table.
PJ Johnson

Nursing homes are hotspots for spreading the coronavirus. Long-term residents can more easily stay isolated from family and friends, but workers and short-term patients travel in and out of nursing home communities. Many may be asymptomatic, unknowingly providing an opportunity for the virus to enter and exit vulnerable communities. 

Headshot of Andrea Harris.
Courtesy of The North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development

Andrea Harris was a force to be reckoned with. An advocate for the economic advancement of minority communities in the state, she tore down barriers that prevented those communities from owning homes or running businesses. 

Meet 'The Coronavirus Hunter' Ralph Baric

May 25, 2020
Image of Epidemiologist Ralph Baric
Christopher Janaro/christopherjanaro.com

The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 took most of the world by surprise — but not Ralph Baric. He is an epidemiologist at UNC-Chapel Hill who has been dubbed “the coronavirus hunter.”

Kristy Dactyl

As colleges across the nation deliberate over whether to continue holding classes remotely in the fall, UNC system schools — including North Carolina A&T State University, NC State University, UNC-Greensboro, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — have already announced their tentative plans for campus reopening.

Christine Rucker-Putnam

Strikes and labor organizing are on the rise as essential workers grapple with safety concerns while on the job. Meatpacking plants, city sanitation and healthcare are some of the industries where workers are striking or organizing.

Sara Deek / Courtesy of Webtoon

When Victoria Lee first wrote “The Fever King” (2019/Skyscape), they did not intend to predict the future. Rather, they hoped to explore our habit of repeating history. Then the coronavirus hit, and the parallels between the fictional Durham, Carolinia in 2074 and the real Durham, North Carolina in 2020 deepened further.

Rudell leans against a white wall while holding a mug.
Yuri Vaysgant Photography

As a holiday weekend typically celebrated with travel and social gatherings approaches, Governor Roy Cooper announced the state’s plans for proceeding with Phase Two of reopening. 

Courtesy of Crystal Moore

As the coronavirus pandemic continues, people with substance use disorders and those in recovery find themselves at risk for relapses and overdoses. Feelings of isolation, fear and anxiety act as triggers for substance use and mental health issues. 

Courtesy of Trey Roberts

Over one million North Carolinians have student loan debt, and the average borrower owes about $25,000. Even under normal circumstances, education debt can be prohibitive. 

Pittman Drug Co. / UNC Libraries

Summers were spent at his father’s gas station. Charles Townsend met all sorts of folks while manning the ice house. In the muggy lowlands of Robeson County, ice was a sought after commodity — no matter if you were raising tobacco or bidding on it in the warehouses. But as the cash crop went into decline, and Townsend considered his career prospects, he chose to leave the town of 2,000 people to work in retail. 

Andrea Circle Bear was eight months pregnant and serving a two-year sentence for a drug charge when she became the first female federal prisoner to die from the coronavirus. Her death sparked questions and conversation about what placed her in prison and why she was held there under the circumstances. 

Forrest Mason Media

North Carolina is known for its barbecue and its bustling food scene. But the state’s restaurants and bars have grown quiet and empty over the last few months. Some eateries have been able to offer takeout, delivery or curbside pickup — but not all dishes work well in a box. 

 

Headshot of Kumar
Courtesy of Cheetie Kumar

North Carolina’s chefs have all had to pivot and change their business models in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Cheetie Kumar closed her Raleigh restaurant Garland in mid-March, right after she closed her music venue Kings.

Sylvan Esso on stage performing for a standing crowd, backlit by blue stage lights.
Graham Tolbert

They are a Grammy-nominated duo of musical magpies. The shared nest of Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn is woven with treasures from ambient, Appalachian gospel, EDM, post-rock, folk-pop and trap music. Yet Sylvan Esso is anything but patchwork. 

Cooper sitting leaned over a table with reporters standing behind him.
NC Governor Roy Cooper

Hundreds of people protested Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home restrictions for churches in Raleigh Thursday morning.

A large yellow house with black shutters and a tree in the foreground.
Courtesy of Monica Edwards/Morehead Manor

In Durham, small businesses have been the backbone of downtown revitalization. But since COVID-19 forced the closures of most non-essential businesses in mid-March, brick-and-mortar shop owners have struggled to stay afloat. 
 

One person films two people kissing. The two people kissing are leaning onto a bed.
Courtesy of Pink and White Productions

How comfortable are you talking about porn and erotica? Does it make you embarrassed? Ashamed? If you knew more about how porn is made, and how to navigate your own exploration of pleasure, would you still blush at the mention of it?
 

Jason deBruyn/WUNC

A small group, mostly armed, walked the streets of downtown Raleigh Saturday in support of their Second Amendment rights. 

Courtesy of the Museum of the Cherokee Indian

The Cherokee Indian Hospital Authority has been mass testing asymptomatic residents and visitors to territories held by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians. In restricting EBCI borders and closing businesses, Principal Chief Richard Sneed preempted most counties and Gov. Roy Cooper.

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