The State of Things

 

The issues, personalities and places of North Carolina right to you, every day in your podcast feed. Hosted by Frank Stasio and Anita Rao. Listen and subscribe on Google PlayApple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows. Tweet us @state_of_things and see more show content on Facebook and Instagram.

 

NCSBE

Over 5 million North Carolinians cast ballots in this year’s election, many of them opting for mail-in and early onsite voting. While there is still a lot we do not know about voter demographics, we do know that the pandemic did not deter voter engagement. 

Courtesy of KHX05

Does your sick leave policy include time off to care for roommates, best friends or chosen siblings? Over 60% of people under the age of 25 live in non-family households, and 28% of all adults live alone in the U.S. It is a distinct turn from historical numbers and the persistent, politicized ideal of the two-parent nuclear family. Workplaces and governments are beginning to broaden the definition of family to include non-biological relationships in their sick-leave protocol.

A group of people in yellow shirts, standing on both sides of a sidewalk. There is one person looking directly at the camera, appears to be a white man, smiling and holding a travel cup
Peyton Sickles/WUNC

Republicans outperformed polls in North Carolina and much of the nation in last night’s general election. But many results are still unclear and likely will be for days. The presidential and U.S. Senate races in North Carolina are still too close to call, and there are also 117,000 outstanding mail-in ballots that could impact the state’s results. 

A Pittsboro polling place with scattered individuals and a thicket of political signage.
Peyton Sickles / for WUNC

Election Day has arrived. North Carolinians must visit the polls today or turn in their absentee ballots to get their votes cast in the 2020 election. How will the day go for those voting in person? 

A student and teacher, both wearing masks, sit in front of a laptop in a classroom
Piney Creek School / Facebook

Report cards have been distributed for the first time in the 2020-21 school year, and in many school districts across the state, students have yet to set foot inside a traditional classroom. 

A group of people kneeling in front of a building with columns
Rusty Jacobs/WUNC

Law enforcement officers pepper sprayed peaceful protesters in Alamance County this weekend on the last day of early voting. The group of about 150 people were participating in a “Legacy March to the Polls” in downtown Graham that included a stop at the controversial Confederate monument there and a plan to march two blocks to an early voting site. 

A Black man in a blue USA track running outfit with USA and his last name 'Gillette' on the front. The man is running and the picture was captured while he was in mid air.
Credit: Joe Kusumoto

While he sprints toward the sand pit, his coach shouts and claps to offer direction. 16 steps. That is all it takes before Lex Gillette flies. After losing his sight at age 8, Gillette found others’ expectations burdensome. From the classroom to the playground, he sought out adults who understood his extraordinary skills. 

A red rectangular sign with a white border and white stars at the top reading 'Polling Place' in white text. There is a large white arrow between the words polling and place, pointing to the right. The sign in some grass near a street.
Sharon M Leon/Flickr/CC

More than a third of registered voters in the U.S. have already cast their ballots. North Carolina saw visits from the president and vice president this week as early voting winds down and Election Day approaches. 

Three Black women in front of a brick house with a wooden ramp in front.
Ben McKeown / WUNC

South of Fayetteville along I-95 is North Carolina’s outlier county. It is one of the most diverse and poorest of the hundred. But, like the state as a whole, Robeson County is contested in the 2020 elections.

A group of people, all in black shirts, standing in what seems like a city. There is one person in the front of the crowd holding a microphone, the person appears to be a Black woman. They are wearing a shirt that reads 'Black Lives Matter Los Angeles'
Creative Commons

Hundreds of thousands of women from across the country donning pink hats flooded onto the nation’s capitol in 2017 for the largest single-day protest in U.S. history. The Women’s March in Washington D.C. — along with sister marches held in all 50 states and more than 30 foreign countries — had some pundits claiming the 2016 election of Donald Trump had awakened the women-identifying electorate. 

A roll of stickers with an American flag and the words 'I Voted' and 'Yo Vote.'
GPA Photo Archive/Flickr/CC

North Carolina has a history of split-ticket voting. In 2016, the state voted in a Republican president — but put a Democrat in the governor’s seat. The same thing happened in 2004, with George W. Bush for president and Mike Easley for governor. 

Around the world, skin-lightening agents are a billion-dollar industry. Colorism and discrimination are major factors.
Flickr/CC

In the U.S. as well as around the world, skin color has long been associated with social perceptions of beauty, intellect and class. Studies have shown that many perceive lighter skin as indicative of higher intelligence. Research also suggests that those with darker skin experience higher instances of criminalization

Laughing manically toward the left, Lanchester sports a massive beehive hair-do with squiggly white strands on the side.
John J. Mescall / Universal Pictures

It is the season of undead film franchises. You can catch plenty of reboots and movie series in which they had to swap out the lead actor after a decade of sequels. While some series recycle the first film’s formula, others break the mold.

A line of people wearing face masks stands on a wide concrete sidewalk. The line stretches from the left corner of the frame all the way back and around to the right corner.
Eden, Janine and Jim//Flickr//CC

Tensions between parties are high as Election Day approaches. President Donald Trump has wavered on his commitment to a peaceful transition, leaving some to wonder: is election-related violence a threat this year?

A woman in a colorful head scarf holding yellow flowers in front of brightly-colored art.
Courtesy of Cortina Jenelle Caldwell

The world of artistic expression called to Cortina Jenelle Caldwell at a young age. As a child she dreamed of becoming an architect, spent a lot of time journaling and loved losing herself in a good book. Her early life was characterized by hard work and perseverance, but it was also marked by trauma. 

A group of women in red shirts holding blue letters, all together the letters spell out 'moms'
North Carolina chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

Money is flowing freely into politics, despite the global recession. Top donors, like Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch, are targeting competitive elections. North Carolina is ripe with opportunity for either party. From the record-breaking U.S. Senate race down to the suburban state House districts, the deluge of ads is doing more than just affecting voters. 

A book cover, a light pink color with red text, there are red, blue, and gold lines randomly placed throughout the cover
Cordelia Calvert

Before tech companies like Google and Facebook, before algorithms became the norm for internet experiences, a mid-20th century company attempted to manipulate the future by simulating human behavior. The Simulmatics Corporation, founded in 1959, built a “People Machine” that modeled everything from how people might vote to what kind of dog food they might buy. The company’s clients included the Democratic National Committee, The New York Times and Department of Defense.

A young woman wearing a gray sweatshirt takes a photo of herself holding an 'I Voted' sticker.
Allie Folger, courtesy of Kamaya Truitt

Youth reporter Ellie Stevens hears a lot about what adults want out of the election. But the high school senior felt that she didn’t know what her peers wanted from the candidates running this year. 

Carteret County Shore Protection Office

It’s estimated that annual average temperatures in North Carolina will rise between 2 and 5 degrees by the middle of this century, and 2019 was the warmest year on record for the state. This heat has already had a significant impact on farmworkers, who have reported noticing both an increase in temperatures outdoors while working and afterwards, in lodging that does not offer relief from evenings that are trending increasingly warmer. 

Adams Wood

What’s the difference between committing the same non-violent crime in one North Carolina county and another? For Daniel Noell, a homeless man convicted of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud and drug trafficking in Buncombe and Yancey counties, the difference was vast: he was sentenced to 30 months of probation in Buncombe County and nearly six years in prison in Yancey County. 

A painting of a Black masculine face covered in leaf print, with roses coming up his neck.
Courtesy of Being seen

How much does it matter to see people who look and identify like you in the media that you consume? In the new podcast "Being Seen" host Darnell Moore examines what it means to have culturally accurate and responsible depictions of the Black, male, queer experience. He joins host Frank Stasio and popular culture experts Natalie Bullock Brown and Mark Anthony Neal on this edition of #BackChannel, a series connecting culture and context, to talk about his interviews with artists, writers and others. 

Grant Holub-Moorman

While North Carolinians requested nearly 1.4 million absentee ballots, fewer than half of those have been returned and accepted. Government and watchdog experts continue to express public confidence that mail-in votes are safe and will be counted if filled out properly. 

A photo of the Durham County Jail: a large silver building.
Laura Candler/WUNC

COVID-19 is spreading more quickly throughout North Carolina's population: public health metrics in the last week have some experts worried the state is heading in the wrong direction. Research shows the virus spreads more quickly indoors and when people have prolonged close contact with one another — something that's almost unavoidable in places like jails and prisons. 

Cari Grindem-Corbett

Burning Coal Theatre Company’s only in-person performance this fall opened last week to a rapt audience of...four. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the live production of “A Hundred Words for Snow” is being performed before drastically-reduced audience sizes, creating an intimate atmosphere. 

A Black man in a black shirt smiling. He has his hands behind his head
Courtesy of Phonte Coleman

Robeson County-born, Greensboro-raised musician Phonte Coleman has traveled all over the world, but there’s no other place he can imagine living than North Carolina. A founding member of the rap group Little Brother, as well as a member of the genre-bending music group The Foreign Exchange, Coleman appreciates the quiet, lowkey community he’s built in the state and the focus on his craft that it affords him.

A picture of the map of North Carolina with different shades of red to show the number of confirmed cases in each county
Creative Commons

North Carolina hit its highest one-day case count of COVID-19 since the pandemic began. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services reported 2,684 new cases of COVID-19 Friday, and shared that hospitalizations are also creeping back up. 

Contributed by Hassan Pitts

Many people know the role that Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King Jr. played in the fight for civil rights. But what about Willena Cannon, a student at North Carolina A&T University who was arrested after protesting to integrate Greensboro’s businesses? Or Reverend Steve Allen, who founded one of the first African American law firms in Greensboro in 1979? 

A green anthropomorphic depiction of Tara, a female buddha
Elisabeth Feldman

The Pachamama, La Virgen, Parvati, Ala, Hera, the Cailleach, and the White Buffalo Calf Woman. Devotion to a masculine god was not always as widespread as in contemporary faith traditions, nor were feminine deities always relegated to gender roles we consider traditional today.

An aircraft carrier in open ocean pictured from the top from left
US Navy

Voting by mail is nothing new for military service members. Deployed worldwide at any of the nearly 800 foreign bases, military personnel are offered some exceptions during the elections. Some vote by fax from a battleship, and many sent their ballots weeks ago, after receiving them earlier than most voters, at least 45 days before the election. 

NC Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services

For over a century, Black farmers have faced challenges in securing federal and local funding to aid their farms in times of need and during crises. COVID-19 has been no different. From lack of access to information about coronavirus relief provisions for farmers to difficulty finding spaces to safely vend during the crisis, the pandemic has made obstacles even more stark.

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