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.

 

Bus seats with "seat closed" signs.
Wikimedia Commons

The North Carolina General Assembly cut hundreds of millions from the state’s transportation budget in late June. While the funding bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the Senate and House, one item raised some controversy: completely cutting the $51.2 billion allocated to programs at local transit departments.

StoryCorps

StoryCorps has been traveling around the country, collecting oral histories in person for years. The impact of COVID-19 means that the archival organization has to get creative. 

Friedman and Sow leaned against eachother and laughing outside.
Milan Zrnic

Friendships carry us through the high and lows of life. From celebrating our successes to helping salve the sting of rejection, the people we choose to surround ourselves with offer an unparalleled kind of support. But there is not much structural guidance on how to nurture our platonic, intimate relationships. 

Map of North Carolina that shows the rate of sterilization in NC counties.
North Carolina Justice For Sterilization Victims Foundation

Between 1929 and 1974, North Carolina officials sterilized an estimated 7,600 people, many by force or coercion. The state’s eugenics program targeted people deemed “feebleminded,” sick or living with a disability. 

Courtesy Jon Gardiner / UNC-Chapel Hill

In an email to leaders at all 17 UNC System campuses, UNC Board of Governors Chairman Randall Ramsey asked each chancellor to prepare a proposal that reflects a budget cut of up to 50 percent. 

Book cover reads: The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed World.
Little A Publishing

Do you say please and thank you to your smart speaker? With each update, technology inches closer towards a greater understanding of the human condition. Empathy remains a trait exclusive to people, but that could change.

GoodFreePhotos//CC

North Carolina taxpayers channel billions of dollars into state agencies every year — agencies that, in turn, spend that money with private businesses in the state for anything from building construction to office supplies. But not every business benefits from the state dollars. 

Red and ominous lettering reads WUNC Presents Creep amongst a forest floor.
Matthew Scott

Creeping, crawling, thriving, surviving … no matter where we look, animal species are living in our midst. Some survive despite the challenges and hazards human life imposes, while others thrive because of it. 

Headshot of McCoy.
Courtesy of Jesse Hamilton McCoy II

There were not many other poor students in his class at law school. Jesse Hamilton McCoy II knew that most of the laws he learned about were not written or enforced by working class Black people. 

Protester holds up a sign that reads: End systemic racism.
Pikist

Tens of thousands of workers in more than 25 cities are expected to participate in a full-day strike today as part of the “Strike for Black Lives.” Those who cannot strike for the full day are encouraged to walk away from their positions for about eight minutes — the amount of time a white police officer held his knee on George Floyd’s neck in Minneapolis. 

Headshot of Ndelo.
Courtesy of Eric Ndelo

Street fashion is a venue for activism, according to Eric Ndelo. Through screen printing, he has elevated social justice movements like Black Lives Matter, empowered young artists and taught entrepreneurship to Congo youth. It was all part of the vision, he says.

NC DHHS

North Carolina hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations this week, a day after Gov. Roy Cooper announced a three-week extension of Phase 2. 

Black Haüs

Hundreds of North Carolina musicians set up a desk and camera this spring for their chance at NPR stardom. The annual Tiny Desk contest gives unsigned musicians the chance to perform behind Bob Boilen's desk at NPR's Washington D.C. headquarters. 

In a unanimous vote on July 14, the Asheville City Council has decided to provide reparations to its Black residents for the city’s role in slavery, discrimination and community disinvestment. The decision is historic, as Asheville is one of the first cities to vote in favor of reparations. 
 

A dog and a bonobo.
Vanessa Woods

When thinking about evolution, Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection, or “survival of the fittest,” is ingrained as the reason why some organisms thrived and others faltered. But our cultural understanding of “fittest” focuses on brute strength and size. What if there was another way to explain the success of some species? 

DPS building
Ildar Sagdejev / WikiMedia Commons

Local school districts within North Carolina can choose to follow Gov. Roy Cooper’s guidance on Plan B reopening — which includes remote and in-classroom hybrid learning — or they can choose complete remote-learning for the upcoming school year. 

Side photo of a North Carolina Public Schools bus.
NCDOT Communications

North Carolina public schools will open this fall with a mix of in-person and remote-learning options, Gov. Roy Cooper announced Tuesday. 

Michele Lamping holds three sea turtle hatchlings out on the beach.
Courtesy of North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

Hundreds of sea turtles climb onto North Carolina’s shores to lay eggs each year. The state has about 330 miles of ocean-facing beach that is potential nesting habitat for sea turtles. Four different species commonly nest in North Carolina: the loggerhead, green turtle, Kemp’s ridley and leatherbacks. All seven of the global species of sea turtles are listed as endangered or threatened. These turtles face many predators in the wild — and humans also pose a great threat.

Portrait of Cameron Dezen Hammon
Courtesy Cameron Dezen Hammon

From the time she was young, musician and writer Cameron Dezen Hammon craved a spiritual connection with the world around her.

A military member in distress
Alex Pena / U.S. Air Force

A clinical trial of active-duty military members showed for the first time that a known pain treatment can also be effectively used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Black and white still image from a Bollywood film.
Wikimedia Commons

From indie rock to local rap, WKNC has built a loyal following of “hipsters and, well, more hipsters,” according to one station promo. But every Sunday morning, a totally different audience tune into North Carolina State University’s student radio station.

Jeffries stands in uniform next to a sign that reads 'Lindsey Jefferies NC's First Female African AMerican Black Helicopter Pilot for the NC Army National Guard.'
Courtesy of Lindsey Jefferies

Captain Lindsey Jefferies was the first of her six siblings to graduate from college. As a child, her family struggled financially and was constantly on the move in search of better paying jobs and a lower cost of living. She hoped that getting a good education could be a ticket to a more secure future and set the goal of attending UNC-Chapel Hill.

The transgender rights flag with a healthcare emblem.
GLAAD

Stigma, confusion and outright discrimination shape the health care experiences of many transgender and gender non-conforming people. In a national survey of transgender people in the U.S., 29% said health care providers had refused to see them because of their actual or perceived gender identity. 

On this edition of the Embodied series, host Anita Rao learns about the ways gender-affirming doctor’s visits, home life and classrooms can improve health outcomes for transgender and gender-nonconforming people. 

Two groups of protesters facing off in a street, with police officers standing in the middle. Protesters with confederate flags stand on the right.
Jason deBruyn/WUNC

Protests continue in Graham over the town’s Confederate statue and the local history of racist policing. Over the weekend, the Alamance County seat hosted hundreds of protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement and local social justice organizations. They were met by law enforcement and more than 50 counter-protesters with ties to ReOpen networks and white supremacist organizations.

Woman sits in the shower shaving her legs
Credit: Betsssssy//Flickr//CC

Women’s war with body hair has claimed many casualties since hair removal and femininity became linked in the late 1800s. 

Women's Theatre Festival

Theater is constantly moving between mediums. From radio plays to vaudeville’s transformation into televised variety shows, actors and technicians now find their stage to be TikTok and Twitch. 

HBO Max

Has cancel culture gone too far? That question has echoed throughout American society for several months. 

Sign on college campus reading 'International Student Programs' with an arrow pointing to the left. Street with cars in the background.
Bellevue College//Flickr//CC

U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement has issued a new temporary rule banning international students from returning to or remaining in the United States if their colleges move to online-only instruction this fall.

Tahir Siddeeq

If a drug proven to reduce coronavirus transmission by 50% to 85% existed, would you take it? Masks offer that kind of protection for public health, and yet people still go out in public without them. Why is that?

In a sweet tea-colored swamp in Bladen County, North Carolina there is a group of trees that has intrigued researchers for decades.

Scientists knew the bald cypress trees that sprouted up from the Black River were old, and a new study reveals a number of the trees date back millennia. One tree is at least 2,624 years old.

The bald cypress' remarkable age reveal information about climate history in the region, including whether the people who lived in the area experienced significant droughts.

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