TCB May 26, 2022 — Page Turner

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MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022 TRIAD-CITY-BEAT.COM

As book-bannings spread across the country, a Guilford County teacher fights back. by Sayaka Matsuoka | pg. 4


UP FRONT | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK

The technological singularity approacheth

W

NOW LEASING THE STEELHOUSE CENTER FOR URBAN MANUFACTURING AND INNOVATION

hen I got started nobody had a website. There was even a quesby Brian Clarey tion, around 2003, as to whether a news operation truly needed a website if it put out a print product on the reg. Then everybody had to set one up immediately, and figure out how — or if — to put your archive online. It would be at least 10 years before the digital-first policy came into vogue among the print news folks, who still thought most people wanted to read their hard copies in the morning, over coffee and cigarettes. I didn’t know how to use the first website I ever worked with: how to post articles and photos, how to fix it if it crashed. Our second iteration of the site cost more than $1,000 a month, for which our weekly stories would, like magic, appear each week. I didn’t know how to load that one either, or respond to comments, or check stats. And when it went down, all we could do was phone the webmaster in Milwaukee, who might or might not answer. We had an office server then, too: a groaning, blinking PC tucked into a closet holding all the pertinent weekly documents to which we shared access. It was a huge step up from the zip drive that connected our two production computers at my first editing job. I thought I’d have to buy an office

server when we started Triad City Beat in 2014, which would have run between $3K-$10K. Instead I found a remote-access hard drive with 10 terabytes of memory for $180. And instead of forking over $1,000 a month to a web company to build, host and maintain our site, we built it ourselves. Or, more accurately, a former co-worker of mine assured me that WordPress had evolved to the point it could handle our needs. “The blogging thing?” I asked then. That site went through several iterations before we launched the custom beauty that you may be using right now. Launched in January this year, the site still relies on WordPress functionality and simplicity. I know how to do a lot of things on it, though our webmaster has specifically requested that I do not tinker with the code anymore. Today, more than two years after we started doing newspaper production remotely, we have stepped up to the cloud, retiring the little hard drive in our office and moving all operations fully online. The move re-routes our emails through a much faster server, liberating it from the server that hosts our site. It gives us shared folders accessible to all of us from wherever we may be, streamlining the production process. It does a hundred other little things that I’m still figuring out. And I’d say we’re only three to five years behind the times on this one, which, for a print news media company, is not too shabby.

There was even a question, around 2003, as to whether a news operation truly needed a website.

1451 S Elm Eugene Street #BusinessisBuiltHere

BUSINESS PUBLISHER/EXECUTIVE EDITOR Brian Clarey

brian@triad-city-beat.com

PUBLISHER EMERITUS Allen Broach

allen@triad-city-beat.com

Charlie Marion

charlie@triad-city-beat.com

SALES KEY ACCOUNTS

COVER:

Chris Rudd

chris@triad-city-beat.com

Cover of Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.

Jonathan Jones

AD MANAGER

Design by Charlie Marion

EDITORIAL MANAGING EDITOR

noah@triad-city-beat.com

OF COUNSEL

Sayaka Matsuoka

sayaka@triad-city-beat.com

CHIEF CONTRIBUTORS Suzy Fielders James Douglas

james@triad-city-beat.com

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1451 S. Elm-Eugene St. Box 24, Greensboro, NC 27406 Office: 336.681.0704 ART WEBMASTER Sam LeBlanc ART DIRECTOR

Noah Kirby

CONTRIBUTORS

Carolyn de Berry, John Cole, Owens Daniels, Luis H. Garay, Kaitlynn Havens, Jordan Howse, Matt Jones, Autumn Karen, Michaela Ratliff, Jen Sorensen, Todd Turner

TCB IN A FLASH @ triad-city-beat.com First copy is free, all additional copies are $1. ©2022 Beat Media Inc.


by Michaela Ratliff

THURSDAY May 26

Health, Mind and Body @ Country Park (GSO) 7 p.m.

Kendra Adachi, The Lazy Genius Kitchen @ Scuppernong Books (GSO) 6 p.m.

Join Rah H for a relaxing evening of free yoga and self care at the park. Cabaret @ Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance (W-S) 8 p.m. Join author Kendra Adachi for a discusWinston-Salem Theatre Alliance presents sion of her book The Lazy Genius Kitchen, Cabaret, a post-World War I musical that a guide to strategic meal planning, prepa- follows writer Clifford Bradshaw as he ration and cleaning. Find more informastruggles to write his next novel and what tion on the event page on Facebook. happens after he falls in love with a cabaret dancer. Purchase tickets at theatrealliFor Play: A Queer Night Out to PrEP ance.ws/box_office. for Pride @ Castle McCulloch (Jamestown) 6 p.m. SATURDAY May 28 Show your support for Triad Health Project by attending this event with free STI Pollinators in the Garden @ New Gartesting, live music by The Collection and den Landscaping & Nursery (GSO) 11 SunQueen Kelcey and a drag show by a.m. Brenda the Drag Queen. Purchase tickets Ann at New Garden Landscaping & Nursat thecastlepresents.com. ery is excited to share with you the best plant choices and other tips to make your garden a “pollinator paradise.” For more FRIDAY May 27 information, visit the event page on FaceKundalini Yoga & Gong Sound Bath @ book. Humbled Warriors Yoga (HP) 2 p.m. Laser Light Show @ Kaleideum North The fourth Friday of each month is for (W-S) 12 p.m. Kundalini yoga at Humbled Warriors. Join instructor Brian Ford for a class focusing on Kundalini’s techniques, mantras and breath styles, followed by meditation and a gong bath. Visit wellnessliving.com/ schedule/humbledwarriorsyoga to Kaleideum North is hosting a series of reserve your space. upbeat laser light shows choreographed Send your events to calendar@triad-city-beat.com for consideration in City Life and the Weekender.

to music from artists of various genres. On this day, the lights will dance to hits by Beyoncé. Tickets can be purchased at the

Welcome Desk. Visit kaleideum.org for more information. One Year Anniversary @ Paddled South Brewing Co. (HP) 12 p.m. Paddled invites you to celebrate its oneyear anniversary with food trucks, live music, axe throwing and of course, beer. For more information, visit the event page on Facebook.

UP FRONT | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

CITY LIFE May 26 - 29

SUNDAY May 29 Food Truck Festival @ North Liberty St. (W-S) 1 p.m. Don’t forget to wear your stretchy pants to this food truck festival in downtown Winston-Salem. You’re sure to find something you enjoy from the 20 diverse food trucks available, like Off the Hook offering seafood or Giannos Special Event Kitchen and its Italian specialties. Learn more at winstonsalemfoodtruckfestival.com. Group Dog Training @ LeBauer Park (GSO) 4:30

Megan Blake, the Pet Lifestyle Coach, invites you to bring your pup to a fun and social training class. You’ll get tips and real-time practices as you learn the best ways to train your dog. Learn more at greensborodowntownparks.org/thingstodo.

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NEWS | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

NEWS

As book-bannings sweep the country, a Guilford County teacher fights back against book challenge by Sayaka Matsuoka

Northern students Naiya McKnight and Peyton McClendon attended the public hearing on May 19 to show support for their Englith teacher, Holly Weaver. All photos by Sayaka Matsuoka

Editor’s note: A second public hearing to determine whether or not Salvage the Bones will be allowed by the school is set to take place on Thursday, May 26 in Northern High School’s library at 3 p.m.

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P English teacher Holly Weaver looked confident as she stared out into the crowd. Her long, blonde hair fell past her shoulders as she spoke directly to nearly 100 people who had gathered in Northern Guilford High School’s library on the morning of May 19. Her voice never shook, never quavered. And why would it? Weaver, who has been teaching in public schools for the last eight years, is used to this; she does this every day. She gets up in front of room and talks about literature and themes and motifs, just like she did this morning. “Sometimes, the human experience is controversial,” Weaver said during her presentation. And it was controversy that brought Weaver to defend a book at the May 19 public hearing. For the last several weeks, the Northern High School English teacher has been involved in a resource-challenge process after mothers of two of her students took issue with a book she assigned as part of her AP English class’s curriculum. The book, Salvage the Bones, is a 2011 novel written by Jesmyn Ward, who is the only woman and only Black author to win the National Book Award for Fiction twice. The first time was in 2011 for the exact book that is currently being challenged by parents Elena Wachendorfer and Kimberly Magnussen. The second time Ward won the title was in 2017 for her book Sing, Unburied, Sing.

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What is the process for challenging books in Guilford County?

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er Guilford County Schools’ rules, concerns over resources are typically sent to the school’s official, often the principal, who explains the school district’s resource-selection policy, then encourages the complainant to meet with the teacher for discussion. Teachers are then to offer the students an alternative resource. If the concern is not resolved at that point, then a form can be filled out by the complainant, which gets forwarded to the school’s Media and Technology Advisory Committee’s chairperson, who schedules a public meeting. The committee members must read and review the challenged resource to deliberate on whether they will keep the resource, remove it, or keep it but with restrictions. The public meeting lasts just one hour and if the committee does not have time to deliberate within the hour, then a closed meeting is scheduled within the next five school days for members to meet and make their decision. Once their decision is made, the teacher and the complainants are notified, and if the complainants are unsatisfied with the committee’s decision, they can submit a different form which will go to a higher-level District Review Committee. That committee will follow the same process as before and hold an hourlong public hearing in which they’ll hear from the teacher and the complainants to make their decision. If the complainants are still unhappy with the result, they can appeal to the school board and superintendent by filing another appeal form. According to public records requested by Triad City Beat, Wachendorfer and Magnussen submitted forms in mid-April urging the removal of Salvage the Bones from the school, calling the novel “trash,” “garbage” and “pornography.” During her presentation, Weaver noted that of the 104 students in her English classes, only five students took issue with the book. She also taught the book last


year in her AP English class, which is optional, and the book was well-received by students, many of whom told her the book was their favorite of the year. Weaver also told her students when she assigned the book that it contains descriptions of violence, sex and profanity and if they wanted, they could skip certain passages that made them uncomfortable, or read an alternative book altogether. Five students moved forward with the alternate option, but two of the students raised their concerns with their parents who initiated the challenge process.

Why is this book being challenged?

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Northern High School English teacher Holly Weaver has been teaching in Guilford County Schools for the last eight years and has taught Salvage the Bones before without issues.

ince its publication in 2011, Salvage the Bones has not only won the National Book Award for Fiction, but has also been praised by critics across the country. Following a working-class Black family living in southern Mississippi in 2005 right before Hurricane Katrina, the book tackles issues of race, poverty, sex and gender, mostly from the perspective of Esch, a 15-year-old Black girl. During her presentation, Weaver explained to the crowd — which was mostly made up of supporters including fellow educators and current students — that she chose the book for its various themes, symbolism and complex characters. “This novel contains themes that will always be relevant,” Weaver said. “Teenagers will have to navigate their world, and yes, that world does involve uncomfortable topics like statutory rape and teenage pregnancy. However, this book also shows the timeless themes of family loyalty and resilience. Moreover, the themes in this work are incredibly nuanced and complex.” One of the most impactful moments of the hearing came when Weaver pulled up The parts of the book that Wachendorfer and Magnussen took issue with a video recorded by author Jesmyn Ward herself in which she talks about why she include passages that depict Esch being coerced into having sex with a 19-year-old wrote the book and urges the committee to keep it in schools. male. During their comments Wachendorfer and Magnussen argued that the book “I’m not here to convince anyone of anything beyond saying that this is a story was “pornographic” and “tacky.” about family, about love, about real issues and circumstances that young people As they read from the book, students in the audience rolled their eyes and snickconfront every day,” Ward says in the video. “It is the artist’s work to examine all ered. Others shook their heads. parts of the human experience with the goal of getting at deeper truths; that’s “That’s pedophilia, depicting sex between an adult and a child, a minor,” Wamy aim. I hope you’ll continue to allow Ms. Weaver to teach your children about chendorfer said. “We know this happens in the real world, but what value does this experiences that differ from their own. There’s so much that we can all learn from add to the story?” each other.” Wachendorfer then went on to argue that “porn is not protected free speech.” Two students who attended the public hearing held Magnussen, who spoke next, cited similar lines of argusigns in support of Weaver that read, “Reality should not ment during her allotted 10 minutes. be banned” and “Banning Books = Hiding the Truth.” “Why not choose a book that deals with issues of povThank goodness reading Naiya McKnight, a 12th grader in one of Weaver’s erty class struggle, hardship, natural disaster, ethnic and English classes, said she showed up because “silencing the cultural values minus the offensive language and obscene allows us to walk in voice of young African-American women won’t silence and sexual content in a way that doesn’t sugar coat these someone else’s shoes, the experiences that they go through.” McKnight, who is issues but showcases the rising above and overcoming?” Black, said she enjoyed the book even though it was hard Magnussen said. “There is no value in lewd and sexual even if only for a few to read because it was important to have uncomfortable depictions.” hundred pages. conversations. Next to her, senior Peyton Clendon said Despite Magnussen’s urging to teach without “sugarthat she and the other students are mature enough to coating” issues, Weaver’s argument in favor of Salvage the Holly Weaver make decisions for themselves on whether to read the Bones expressed that the parents’ efforts to ban the book book. If students don’t like the book, they can read the was just that. alternate, she argued. But the book shouldn’t be banned for all students. “When asked why she wrote Salvage the Bones, Jesmyn Ward notes her desire to “She gave us other options,” Clendon said. “She’s going the extra mile. She not let Hurricane Katrina fade away from the public consciousness,” Weaver said. shouldn’t be discarded as a bad teacher for that.” “She says, ‘I realized that if I was going to assume the responsibility of writing about my home, I needed narrative ruthlessness. I couldn’t dull the edges and fall in love with my characters and spare them. Life does not spare us.’ Now what? “Some of us many never know what it’s like to be poor,” Weaver continued. “We fter hearing from both parents and Weaver, the 13 members of may never know what it’s like to be Black; we may never know what it’s like to be Northern High School’s Media and Technology Advisory Commita pregnant teenager; we may never know what it’s like to be the only girl in the tee gave their own statements. The committee is made up of nine family. But thank goodness for literature. Thank goodness reading allows us to walk staff members — including teachers of various subjects — and three in someone else’s shoes, even if only for a few hundred pages.” parents and one student. During her presentation Weaver also noted that the book was on an approved Andrew Hulberg, a social studies teacher at Northern, said that when he first list of AP course texts and has been endorsed by multiple curriculum specialists.

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NEWS | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

NEWS

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NEWS | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

NEWS Parents Elena Wachendorfer, left, and Kimberly Magnussen, right, speak in favor of banning Salvage the Bones from Northern High School at the May 19 meeting. PHOTO CREDIT

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learned about the book from his son, he was shocked by the content but that through conversations with his child, they came to understand why the novel was part of the curriculum. “It was not what he was expecting, but he kept reading and kept wanting and kept seeing and that’s what I’ve always encouraged my child to do,” he said. “If a book challenges this and the book does have uncomfortable content, I will not deny that the book has done its job. And I need my child to be a great thinker, especially going forward to see alternative perspectives.” Another member of the committee, parent Karin Rochester, said that the difficult topics depicted in Salvage the Bones are important for students who may have lived sheltered lives. “We as parents forget that some of our kids grow up in such a bubble, they don’t understand that some kids’ lives are very different than what they are experiencing personally,” Rochester said. Located in the northern part of Greensboro near Summerfield, Northern Guilford High School has a majority-white student population and the school has one of the lowest rates of students who get free or reduced lunch. “This book is not pornography,” Rochester continued. “This book is a young girl’s pragmatic account of her life…. It is fiction, but I’m sure it’s not fiction for someone…. When our lucky, protected children read about her horrible situation, they should be shocked…. How about instead of focusing on how graphic the portrayal of her life is in the book, we asked our AP Lit seniors how learning about the rough home lives that some people are born into can become a call to action to improve life for others in our country and in our world?” Of the 13 committee members, only 10 were able to speak within the allotted hour. Three — including a student, Assistant Principal Monique Wallace and Media Specialist Annie Harris — did not get the opportunity to speak. This means that a closed session will be scheduled within the next five school days for the committee to meet again and make a decision. That meeting will not be open to the public. And while an official decision has not yet been made, every member who had time to talk spoke in favor of keeping the novel at the school. Later in the afternoon, Weaver said that she felt hopeful that the committee would reaffirm her stance to keep the book within schools. “I’ve seen many positives come out of this conversation,” Weaver said. “I have received a number of emails from colleagues, students and parents in support for keeping the novel…. I’ve been warmed to see our community stand up for their freedom to read. These conversations are a reminder of why I love teaching English literature.” Weaver, who is finishing out her second year teaching at Northern, said that before this whole process started, she submitted her resignation letter to the school.

“I am planning on moving to the Asheville community to be closer to my family,” she told TCB. “I’m unsure of what I will be doing in the future, but I hope that I will still have a place in education.”

How and why book-bannings are spreading across the country

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ccording to Guilford County Schools Media Services Director Natalie Strange, this is the first resource challenge that the school district has seen in a while. “We have a large student population, about 80,000 students, over 114 school libraries that operate,” she said. “So looking at that total population, I’m not seeing a glut of resource challenges.” Other schools in the state and across the country have been busier. According to an April report by PEN America, a literary and free expression advocacy organization, school districts in 26 states banned or opened investigations into more than 1,100 books from July 2021 to March 2022. “Over the past nine months, the scope of such censorship has expanded rapidly,” the report states. And that mirrors what advocates are seeing in North Carolina, too. “Here in North Carolina, in several counties, people are showing up and insisting that the schools — whether they’re pressuring the school principals, the librarians, or the school boards —remove books from the reading lists or from the shelves in the local libraries,” said Janice D. Robinson, the NC Program Director for Red, Wine and Blue, an organization that channels the collective power of suburban women. “They’re showing up to get public libraries to remove books, too.” According to a map on Red, Wine and Blue’s website, many of the resource challenges are happening in the central part of the state in counties like Chatham and Moore. In nearby Wake County, conservatives successfully moved the public library system to permanently ban Gender Queer, a 2019 memoir by author Maia Kobabe, from their shelves. The graphic novel deals with what it means to be gender nonbinary and asexual. In Union County, Superintendent Bill Nolte removed Nic Stone’s 2017 novel Dear Martin from schools after receiving one parent complaint. The book chronicles how an Ivy League-bound Black student becomes the victim of racial profiling. Across the nation, a vocal conservative movement has been making the news after targeting a variety of texts including ones with LGBTQ+ perspectives to ones that deal with racial injustice. Other titles that have been targeted include classics such as Toni Morrison’s Beloved and the Bluest Eye. Graphic novel Maus, about the Holocaust, has also been challenged in multiple school districts.


NEWS | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

NEWS

“It’s a continuation of making CRT a boogieman issue,” Robinson said. “No elementary teacher is teaching their kids CRT. That is a big lie to scare people into thinking their kids are being indoctrinated.” It appears the rhetoric is trickling place at the national level. Across the country, lawmakers are introducing bills that aim to restrict what teachers can teach in schools, including topics like gender and racial identity. In NC, Lt. Governor Mark Robinson has been one of the most vocal proponents of this movement. “He’s alleging all sorts of things like books are pornography or grooming going on in public schools,” said Todd Warren, a statewide campaign strategist with Down Home NC. “One of their favorite words to use is ‘indoctrination’…. But it’s so clear that it’s an outright attack on Black and brown students and LGBTQ+ students and staff.” According to Warren, banning books is just the newest issue that’s It’s a continuation been taken up by the conservative of making CRT a movement in this country. “It started by being anti-mask, boogieman issue. then it was anti-CRT and now it’s moved into censorship and Janice Robinson book-banning,” Warren said. “What all of these things have in common is they focus on essentially what is a nonissue for the day-to-day functioning of schools…. They don’t want to talk about what schools really need which is funding and resources and staffing.” Part of the strategy, according to Warren and Robinson, is using topics like book-banning to rally the base of the GOP to win elections. In both Guilford and Forsyth Counties, many school-board candidates for the midterm elections ran on a platform that fell in line with the national conservative fearmongering rhetoric about CRT and LGBTQ+ issues in schools. “You’ve got a strategy coming directly out of Steve Bannon’s War Room,” Warren said. “The strategy is to enflame racial tensions and gender identity with the hope of mobilizing their base which they increasingly know is in the minority. They are doing it in ways that appear to be organically arising everywhere, but it’s actually a very well-funded movement that is targeting certain electoral districts.” And that’s a problem because the majority of the country is against banning books, according to national polling. A poll conducted in mid-February of this year by CBS and YouGov found that “83 percent of Americans believe no book should be banned for criticizing US history, and 85 percent said no book should be banned for presenting political ideas they don’t agree with. A healthy 87 percent of Americans surveyed believe no book should be outlawed for discussing race and slavery.” To combat this wave, Warren said that community members need to do what they did on May 19: show up in support of teachers and librarians and school boards to keep books in schools. “The people who do the work of representing our schools need to hear from the majority because there’s a very loud voice in the room,” Warren said. “Because it could get tiresome over time. They need to know that parents by and large are happy with their schools.” That kind of support matters for teachers like Weaver. “This experience has been a lot of emotional labor,” Weaver said. “Usually my evenings or weekends are spent working on lessons or grading but this situation has been incredibly distracting and exhausting.” While she doesn’t know where she’ll end up after leaving Guilford County Schools, Weaver said she wants her experience to motivate other educators to fight against book banning moving forward. “While this experience has been difficult, I want the teacher reading this to know that they shouldn’t be afraid of the national book banning trend,” Weaver said. “It is going to take a community of parents, administrators, teachers and students to stand up for the freedom to read, and from my experience, many people are willing to take that stand. I believe there is integrity in this world.”

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OPINION | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

OPINION

EDITORIAL The over/under on sports betting in NC

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orth Carolina is far behind the curve when it comes to legal weed, which could take another five years to be legalized, and liquor laws that designate the state as the sole source of alcoholic spirits. Some of our more rural counties haven’t even gotten microbreweries or bougie cupcakes yet. We’re looking pretty good on sports betting, though, which right now is legal only in the two Cherokee casinos in the western mountains. But it’s not like everyone isn’t doing it anyway. The bill, SB 688, is making its way through the legislature in this short session with bipartisan support, spearheaded by our own Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth), who teamed up with Senate Majority Whip Jim Perry (R-Lenoir). It passed a couple rounds of votes in August 2021, but stalled out during the budget standoff towards the end of last session. Now it’s back, with the understanding that it may be tweaked before implementation. And a lot of the people who were against the bill in August like it better when the tax rate jumps from 8 percent, where the current version sets it,

to 14 percent, which is still a point less than Virginia’s 15 percent tax on the gross revenue of the sports books. This version of the bill allows for “at least 10, but not more than 12” gaming licenses in the state, and it reads as if every bettor must be registered in order to place a wager. No gambling on youth sports, injuries or penalties, outcomes of replay reviews and no horse racing. But college and amateur sports are covered in the bill, as well as E-sports, which shows remarkable foresight from our un-hip legislature. As it stands, sports betting could add up to $8 million to state coffers in its first year, topping off around $25 million as the market matures, according to a fiscal report. And half of that would go to a fund used to recruit more sporting events to the state, with generous chunks sliced off for the General Fund and DHHS for “problem gambling treatment.” So it looks like all bases are covered for smooth passage. And if it doesn’t pass, everyone will just play online or with their neighborhood barroom bookie, like they’re doing right now.

College and amateur sports are covered in the bill, as well as E-sports, which shows remarkable foresight from our un-hip legislature.

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Jen Sorensen jensorensen.com

John Cole ncpolicywatch.com


CULTURE | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

CULTURE

AAPI Stories by PAVE NC: Paul Byun by PAVE NC

PHOTO BY SCOTT MUTHERSBAUGH

In celebration of AAPI month, TCB will be sharing stories by PAVE NC, a local volunteer-run organization that highlights the stories of Asian-Americans in the South, for the month of May. To learn more about PAVE NC, visit their website or read TCB‘s profile of the co-founders, Tina Firesheets and Christie Soper online. This story was originally published by PAVE NC. Story by Tina Firesheets, photos by Scott Muthersbaugh, Perfecta Visuals, digital production by Dave from Maunaleo Ventures.

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eet Paul Byun, a Korean-American videographer and co-owner of GlasBear Video Productions. He’s based in Greensboro, but his interest in other cultures and passion for traveling takes him all over the world. The impact of travel influenced him early on. By the time he was 13, he’d already lived in three countries. He was born in Hong Kong, where his family lived while his father worked at Dow Chemicals. When he was 5, Byun’s family returned to South Korea. But his parents eventually grew dissatisfied with the traffic and congestion in Seoul. They were always drawn to the US, where they already had family established. So when Byun was 13, he moved to North Carolina.

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How did your family end up in North Carolina? They picked Greensboro because my brother was in Chapel Hill. And then my sister-in-law, which was his girlfriend at the time, got accepted to UNCG. So they found a business in Greensboro sold by another Korean guy. It was a fast-food Japanese place. They picked whatever they could afford and whatever was closest to my brother.

What was it like for you? So I came here before they bought the restaurant. I lived with my aunt for one year just to be somewhere in America and learn English. And then after that, there was this gray period of my my parents being in Korea. So I went to a boarding school near Hickory in North Carolina for one year. That’s where I learned English again. And then they bought the restaurant and then we settled here.

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You were in Hickory? There aren’t a lot of Asian there. Yeah, exactly. Not even Hickory, the nowhere of Hickory. It used to be a big, beautiful private school kind of like you see in Hollywood movies, but it went downhill. There was more teachers than students. It’s only like 10 kids living in the whole school. And they’re all troublemakers,

spoiled troublemakers that came there. And so it was weird, but they taught me English and then they taught me all the things I shouldn’t have learned, but I learned it.

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What was that like for you having come from Korea to land in a place where you are the only Korean? I think all Asian kids in America go through a lot of insecurity and lack of confidence. And also we grew up in a society where white people are idolized. So I’ve already idolized white people in a different way. I listened to KoRn, Limp Bizkit, Kid Rock, I was like, ‘Ooh, Hollywood movies and USA music’s better.’ And everybody wants to wear Adidas. Everybody wants to wear Nike and girls are trying to look more white and making their eyes bigger. So the ideology was already there. And then of course you have to go through all these jokes. There’s so many jokes. If a French accent is beautiful. People are like, ‘Ooh, what a beautiful accent.’ Then you see a Korean accent or a Chinese accent, and it’s funny. And everybody’s laughing at it. Even South Park makes fun of it. Long story short, I was pretty insecure until I was, like, in my early twenties. And then I started becoming strong. You learn to fight back and make bigger jokes when the jokes come.

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CULTURE | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

CULTURE

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How did that happen? Going to college and seeing more diversity. I think diversity is celebrated in a lot of universities. So I think cities with a lot of universities seem to be the most liberal, more laid back and more open. Cities with fewer universities seem to be segregated and more closed-minded on diversity and inclusivity. And that was it. And then I started just opening up.

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Has the popularity of Korean culture — Korean TV, music and food surprised you? Oh, yeah. Korea is the new cool kid of Asia. And I’m proud of my people. ‘Squid Game’’s cool. And every girl seems to dig K-pop. Korea is also doing well with economy. Asians are cool, now that Asians are finding their voice. But it takes time for the one culture to come. So for me, I saw the culture of sushi come to the USA. When I first came here, sushi was still gross. And now people are like, ‘Sushi is so cool.’ And then now I think pho is making the move; ramen already made the move.

Q A

Did you always know that you wanted to be a creative and that you wanted to make videos and film?

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Yeah. I knew I would be a creative. At first, I wanted to be a musician. So I was in a metal band and then my mom said, ‘No, you have to go to college because we came to America to pay for college.’ So I respected that. Anyway, music was my first passion. Then I was like, Okay, I have to find something else that I like. That’s photography. But then, as you know, photography is going down because everybody can take really beautiful photos and photographers are so cheap. So video resulted in me being more unique, and it’s more profitable. It’s a great time to be a videographer because the equipment’s cheap and you can make money fast, and then it’s the worst time to be musicians. So if we were in the ’70s or ’80s, it would be so hard to be a videographer because the cameras were big and you have to be rich to start a video company. But I think, back in the day, you are a musician,

PHOTO BY SCOTT MUTHERSBAUGH

nobody can steal your music. There’s no Spotify. So everybody bought tapes and CDs and actually went to concerts. So I’m glad I’m not a musician right now.

Q A

You also did video work for a furniture company in High Point, right? It was a studio that specialized and only did furniture work. So there’s whole bunch of studios in High Point that photographs for furniture companies. So they are like giant warehouses, and they have little sets and each set becomes a different room every week. There’s carpenters, painters, people who move stuff, people who install floors. So they literally build a room that looks like a real room, like a movie set, and then photograph it, videograph it. And then just destroy it, and then move on.

Q A

That sounds like it was a good opportunity to just learn. Yes, absolutely. That was a way to learn lighting and how to talk to big clients. And also most importantly, just like how commercial videography works. So it was like, I see that as post-college that also paid me. I learned almost everything there.

Q A

Is there a lot of diversity in this field? I think so. I mean, like, I have clients of all races and, of course, we film all different races, but I do still see some things that need to change. For example, a lot of companies, when they say we need diverse models, somehow they get stuck in this idea that there must be two white couples, one Black couple and one Latino couple or maybe one Asian couple. Like, no interracial couples, I think favoritism exists quite a bit. I also just see so much separation between white and Black folks. There’s so much tension between those two race in this country. It makes me sad.


There’s the sentiment that Asians are often left out of conversations when it comes to diversity and race, especially in the southeast. What are your thoughts?

I remember having an Asian teacher in high school. And he always yelled, like ‘Why are the Asians the quiet ones?’ Asians are always the quiet ones. And that’s what made me not quiet. So I’m usually the one vocal, and I’m known to be feisty. I’m known to speak my mind. My brother’s the same way. He’ll say what he wants. We’re not talkative, but we’re not the quiet Asians. So if somebody drops a joke, then I can drop some jokes to reverse that situation to show that I’m powerful. There’s a lot of jokes that poke at insecurities of Asians, right? Asian guys, I think, get it more. I used to not wear shorts in high school because everybody said my legs look like girls’ legs because I don’t have hair. But look now you see a bunch of white guys shave and now smooth skin’s cool. Girls like smooth skin now. And there’s things like we eat dogs, and it hurts your feelings. So I will drop a redneck joke because you’re joking about my race. And then it’s funny. And most of the time that ends up melting the ice in the room. And you become even close friends because you roast each other a bit.

Q A

You’ve traveled a lot, what have you observed about other cultures?

Everybody and most of the world is more similar. Double dipping’s cool in most countries. Most countries want to pay for each other’s food and do family meal style and there’s a sense of like, ‘Hey neighbor, I’m cooking. Want to come over and eat together?’ Anyways, that’s why I travel more.

Q A

How has your Asian-American identity evolved? Now I just embrace being Asian. For example, when me and my dad were walking in Morocco where no tourists go and it was scary. And they all just made Kung Fu jokes. They called me Jackie Chan, but I wasn’t angry, because they’re so innocent. I’m like, ‘Wow, these people just really haven’t seen any Asians other than in some movies.’ I embrace it now. Everywhere I go, people say I look like Jackie Chan. And I’m like, ‘Yeah that’s my uncle.’ I think confidence is key. And I think we need to make sure all the Asian kids grow up with confidence. I used to be insecure about my round face and my little eyes. But now I think I’m sexy, like whatever. You got to love yourself first. That’s so important. And I think Asians lose that confidence when they live as a super minority. So that’s where I’m at. I think Asians just need more confidence.

CULTURE | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

Q A

CULTURE

Follow Paul on Instagram @glasbear or see more of his creative work at glasbear.com.

Paying for people’s meals — I think that’s a very Asian thing. And that’s not in American culture. It’s not part of their culture. The more I travel the world, I realize it is the United States that’s a weirdo.

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CULTURE | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

CULTURE

Nikole Hannah-Jones headlines on redlining, 1619 Project at NC A&T by Michaela Ratliff

PHOTO BY CHERYL DIAZ MEYER

Journalist, professor, Pulitzer-winner and MacArthur Genius Nikole Hannah-Jones spoke to an audience at A&T on Saturday to speak about the federal practice of redlining, which segregated the country’s neighborhoods for a century, as well as reinforce the thesis of The 1619 Project, which puts the origins of the US at the arrival of the first slave ship, and Virginia as the political center of the Colonies.

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ikole Hannah-Jones has been busy. Magazine, specializing in racial injustice. In partnership with journalists Ron The award-winning investigative journalist spoke at Harrison Nixon, Corey Johnson and Topher Sanders, Hannah-Jones founded the Ida Auditorium at NC A&T State University on May 21 to conclude a B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting in Memphis, TN, in 2016. The redlining discussion series hosted by FD Bluford Library, made organization aims to increase and retain the number of minority investipossible by a grant from North Carolina Humanities. gative journalists in the industry while seeking to The talk also took place in conjunction with the “educate news organizations and journalists on Greensboro Bound Literary Festival. how the inclusion of diverse voices can raise the We have to set the table R&B instrumentals played through the speakers caliber, impact and visibility of investigative jourthat redlining was created as the auditorium filled with excited chatter from nalism as a means of promoting transparency and attendees waiting for the program to begin. At the good government.” by the federal government. entrance of Harrison were copies of Hannah-Jones’ In 2020, Hannah-Jones won the Pulitzer Prize The 1619 Project available for purchase. Just outfor Commentary for her introductory essay to The side, an excited couple posed for a selfie with their 1619 Project: A New Origin Story, a collection of copy. On the stage were two blue chairs placed about three feet apart, a essays, poems and works of fiction written by Hannah-Jones and other distance possibly representing the familiarity of the conversation about to authors that suggests the history of the United States is not only defined take place. by the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, but also by the Hannah-Jones is currently a domestic correspondent for New York Times arrival of the White Lion ship carrying enslaved African people to a British


colony in 1619. In April 2021, it was announced that Hannah-Jones would join the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media in July as the Knight Chair in Race and Journalism, a move criticized by conservative groups, educators and others that opposed statements made in the 1619 Project. As the University Board of Trustees was supposed to approve her application for tenure, pushback from critics caused the Board to succumb to the pressure and stall, an action revealed in an article published by NC Policy Watch. UNC offered a fiveyear contract with an option for tenure review as they could not offer tenure without approval from the Board. After some members of Hussman pointed out the unfairness in Hannah-Jones’ offer as previous Chairs had been offered tenure, UNC finally offered Hannah-Jones tenure in June, but she declined and accepted a position as a tenured member of Howard University’s Cathy Hughes School of Communications instead. “I cannot imagine working at and advancing a school named for a man who lobbied against me, PHOTO BY CHERYL DIAZ MEYER who used his wealth to influence the hires and A sold-out crowd heard Hannah-Jones’ firsthand account of growing up in a redlined neighborhood. ideology of the journalism school, who ignored my 20 years of journalism experience, all of my matched her bright-red, curly hair. credentials, all of my work, because he believed that a project that centered Redlining is the illegal practice of denying home loans or restricting serBlack Americans equaled the denigration of white Americans. Nor can I vices to certain communities, typically due to discrimination based on the work at an institution whose leadership permitted this conduct and has race of the applicant’s neighborhood. done nothing to disavow it,” Hannah-Jones said in a statement on July 6, Hannah-Jones became a journalist to research and expose racial inequal2021. ity, especially as it pertains to the practice of redlining houses and schools. On May 21, Hannah-Jones, joined on stage by moderator Dr. Kim T. She grew up in a redlined community and faced even more exposure to it Chavis, Director of Title III programs at A&T, began the evening by giving a after covering Durham Public Schools for the News & Observer in Raleigh in humorous recount of how her family ended up in Waterloo, Iowa. During 2003. From there, she moved to Portland, Ore. to write for The Oregonian, the Great Migration — her grandmother and her children, one being Hanwhich surprised Chavis. nah-Jones’ father — took the Illinois Central Railroad north from Mississip“From Durham to Oregon?” he questioned. pi. “You know, I actually told myself growing up “Where they left was so country, they got to in Iowa, I would never live in a state that white Waterloo and thought they hit the big city,” HanAs we got closer to the again and I ended up in Oregon,” Hannah-Jones nah-Jones said. responded jokingly. river that divided the east She continued, “We didn’t make it all the way to While working there covering county governChicago with the rest of the Black folks.” side from the west side, ment, she became aware of fair-housing testing Her curious, investigative nature began as she the city had done. They ended up finding that everything got nicer. entered a voluntary school desegregation program Black tenants were discriminated against when in second grade. During the ride to school, she trying to rent properties, so Hannah-Jones noticed an immediate change in her environment contacted the city inquiring about a resolution as the bus approached the Cedar River. against discriminatory landlords. “I started to study the literal landscape of inequality from the school bus “They put me on hold,” she said. “Then they came back and said, ‘We window,” she said. aren’t actually doing anything. We were just testing to see what was out “As we got closer to the river that divided the east side from the west there.’” side, everything got nicer. There were more places to shop, more places to Hannah-Jones and Chavis discussed how physical structures like dine, the houses looked nicer.” buildings or train tracks are sometimes put in place to separate the Black Hannah-Jones began to question why that was. and white sides of towns. Chavis questioned the ways banks contribute “I was a very nerdy child; I know that’s hard to believe because I’m to redlining houses and schools, to which Hannah-Jones was happy to fabulous now,” she said in jest, referring to her black-and-white print dress answer. that stopped just above the knee, wedge sandals and bold red lipstick that

CULTURE | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

CULTURE

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CULTURE | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

CULTURE

PHOTO BY CHERYL DIAZ MEYER

Hannah-Jones signed books for more than an hour after the program had ended.

“We have to set the table that redlining was created by the federal government,” she said. “Redlining was not created by banks.” She went on to explain how during the Great Depression, the federal government believed it needed to intervene in the economy and build a middle class. “In the 1930s, middle class meant ‘white,’” she said. She chronicled the federal government’s housing administration that insured home loans. On a map of the city, a red marker or pen was used to mark off Black, immigrant and integrated neighborhoods as these areas were considered too “toxic” to insure, the effects of which are still seen today. As Hannah-Jones spoke throughout the evening, the near sold-out crowd took in every word the journalist spoke. And despite the recent controversy, her reason for working as a journalist stays the same. “I was a kid with a lot of questions society couldn’t answer,” Hannah-Jones said. Now, she answers them herself. Find more information about Nikole Hannah-Jones at nikolehannahjones.com. Learn more about The 1619 Project: The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story at 1619books.com. More information about the Ida B. Wells Society for Investigative Reporting can be found at idabwellssociety.org.

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BY CAROLYN DE BERRY

East Gate City Boulevard, Greensboro

SHOT IN THE TRIAD | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

SHOT IN THE TRIAD

City pools open for the season on Saturday, May 28!

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PUZZLES | MAY 26 - JUNE 1, 2022

CROSSWORD

by Matt Jones

LAST WEEK’S ANSWERS:

Across

1. Some 1990s Toyotas 7. Chicken ___ 11. Big Sky Conference sch. 14. Low-tech counting device 15. Skater Kulik who won gold at Nagano 16. Sounds of hesitation 17. Get back into 18. Instructions within instructions 20. Bacon hunks 21. Kin, informally 22. Prefix for “venous” 23. City northeast of Reno 24. III, to Jr. 25. Hawkins of school dances 26. Ballet wear 28. Lovecraftian entity with tentacles 30. Prefix before “laryngologist” 33. More agile 35. Yale graduates, slangily 36. TV room, perhaps 37. Nassau’s country 39. “___ be my honor” 40. Pt. of many airport names 42. Audience member who isn’t bawling at the end, metaphorically 43. Word repeated in an Iris Murdoch title 44. Dangerous callout while bike riding 46. Monologue fodder 48. State a new way 49. Inc. relative 50. Nelson Muntz’s catchphrase 54. Manufacturer of the SURFboard modem 55. Twice, in music 56. A.C. ___ (Serie A squad) 57. Readers’ haven 59. Rake it in 60. ___ mode 61. Like a souffle 62. Baskets for fish 63. Pixar’s “Turning ___” 64. McEntire with a part in “Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar” 65. Most peeved

Down

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“Sandwiched In”--one thing between two other things.

1. Analyze, as grammar 2. “Nope, doesn’t ring ___” 3. “Wheel of Fortune” social correspondent Maggie 4. Self-sustaining automaton 5. Some votes in Quebec 6. IRS info 7. Leaning Tower city resident 8. Returning grad 9. “Spare” meat 10. “Emotions” singer Carey 11. Country singer Pam’s father (and singer of “I Ain’t Never”) 12. Sexologist with a 1976 report

© 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (editor@jonesincrosswords.com)

SUDOKU

13. Fictional former space agency in the game Fallout 19. Excessive 21. Remarkable showing on a baseball box score (or 1/6 of a day) 24. March parade honoree, as preferred in Ireland 25. Went off track 27. Charging port, maybe 28. Bonds securely 29. Abbr. on some beef 30. Valhalla host 31. Don José or Otello, in opera circles 32. Kerouac novel 34. Stadium cheer 38. Replace a button, say 41. Eye surgery technique 45. Earnhardt’s org. 47. Black eye © 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (editor@jonesincrosswords.com) 49. Tripoli’s nation 51. Playwright Edward who won three Pulitzers LAST WEEK’S ANSWERS: 52. Comes down hard 53. Unsettling feeling 54. “A guy walks into ___ ...” 55. Commuter’s home, for short 56. Spanish surrealist Joan 58. Prevarication 59. British lavs