MAY 19 - 24, 2022 TRIAD-CITY-BEAT.COM
PRIMARY ELECTION RESULTS Incumbents hold fast, newcomers gain ground and the biggest Senate race in the country pgs. 6-9
UP FRONT | MAY 19 - 25, 2022
EDITOR’S NOTEBOOK Notes on election coverage
n yet another Election Day, I sit at my office desk with the late-morning by Brian Clarey sun streaming through the windows, capturing the dust motes suspended in the air. It’s a fine time for reflection before I tuck my notebook under my arm and head out to the streets to see what I can see. This is how I do on Election Day, whether I be a reporter, an editor or a publisher, because election coverage is arguably the most important job of the press — the local press in particular. How else are citizens supposed to find out about obscure candidates on the granular level, like city council and school board? Where else can they tap into the institutional memory to help understand the big picture, the long game? Who else will compile all this information in one place, if not us? Frankly, I’m shocked at the lack of participation in this primary election by our city dailies, who have barely touched any of these races. Remember, these contests will determine who makes it to the ballot in
July (for the city of Greensboro) or November, or, like in the Guilford DA race, name the winner outright. Not that it’s any of my business. We started our coverage months ago, when our new Managing Editor Sayaka Matsuoka fully understood the task: to cover the candidates without fear or favor, the way our paper has been doing since the beginning — and, truth be told, even before that. It’s not the sort of thing, she realized, that can be slapped together in a couple of days. My first election guide was at a different paper, all the way back in 2005, when I was, for a brief moment, the youngest editor in town. We covered the Greensboro City Council election that year, diving deep on the issues and conducting individual candidate interviews for endorsements. That paper came out on Wednesdays, so we began our practice of writing up the results before midnight and getting them into the next day’s edition. We no longer come out on Wednesdays, and we don’t do endorsements anymore (we have our reasons). But we still tackle the thing head-on. And I still believe it is the most useful and impactful work we do.
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rom late April until May 12, we ran an advertisement on the front cover of our paper. It was a political campaign ad for incumbent Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan. And although the advertisement space has been a part of our media kit since 2014 and was available to any political candidate, we now see that a political ad on the cover of our paper looks like an endorsement, which is something we don’t do. It was not our intent, but our intent is not the point. We want to thank the many people who expressed their concerns to help us understand where we went wrong. Given these concerns, we have changed our policy.
UP FRONT | MAY 19 - 25, 2022
We made a mistake, and we are sorry.
Moving forward, Triad City Beat will not sell front-page ads during election seasons to any political entity. Since our founding in 2014 we have not done political endorsements and we likely never will. We believe if we do thorough reporting, our readers can decide for themselves how to cast their vote. Given this longstanding policy, it was hypocritical and misleading to allow any candidate to buy that space. Here are the facts: • On April 27, the day before our 2022 Election Guide hit the streets, incumbent Mayor Nancy Vaughan bought our frontpage ad space, listed in our media kit for $650. We said yes. While $650 may not seem like a lot, at our small operation it covers a good piece of our weekly costs. • The print ad ran for three weeks. • We have had the front-page ad in our media kit since 2014, and it has been bought by a political candidate in the past. Even with these facts, our decision to run the ad was incorrect, especially in a hotly contested race like this year’s Greensboro mayoral race, and particularly when coupled with a news piece that is critical of Vaughan’s opponent, Justin Outling. Even at a small paper like ours, the editorial department, run by Managing Editor Sayaka Matsuoka, operates independently from the sales department, run by Brian Clarey. Ads never dictate the stories we run. However, this ad undermined the work that we do and the trust that we have developed over time with our readers. Ever since our founding and now more than ever, we seek to be a paper that works closely with the community to hold the powerful accountable, to shine a light on systems of injustice and to disrupt the status quo. That is and will continue to be our mission. Lastly, we want to apologize to our writers, who all work for us on a freelance basis, for any discomfort this caused them. Their work is invaluable to us and to the community, and we put their credibility on the line. As part of this process, we will be rethinking and retooling our mission statement so mistakes like this don’t happen in the future. We’re not perfect, but we can and will do better. Thank you for holding us accountable to this community. We do this work for you, because otherwise, what is the point? For additional questions and comments, reach out to us via email or social media. We’re around. As always, thanks for reading.
Sayaka Matsuoka, Managing editor Brian Clarey, Editor-in-chief & publisher firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
UP FRONT | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
CITY LIFE May 19-22
by Michaela Ratliff
THURSDAY May 19
Falsettos @ Congregational United Church of Christ (GSO) 8 p.m.
International Day @ the People’s Market (GSO) 5:30 p.m.
SUNDAY May 22 The People’s Market invites you to celebrate global diversity during this market featuring handcrafted and locally grown products. Food choices include Congolese samosas, Mexican empanadas and more. Learn more from the People’s Market Facebook page. Flower Fairy Spring Fling @ Reserving Royalty (HP) 6 p.m.
Fiddle & Bow 40+1 Anniversary Festival @ Reynolda House (W-S) 1 p.m. Triad Pride Acting Company presents Falsettos, a contemporary musical that follows main character Marvin and the problems that arise when he leaves his wife and son to be with his lover Whizzer. Purchase tickets and view other showtimes at triadprideperformingarts.org. Lend Me a Tenor @ Stained Glass Playhouse (W-S) 8 p.m.
Celebrate spring with Tinkerbell and her fairy friend Vida! This fairy-themed party includes flowerpot painting, pixie-dust wishes and more engaging activities. Find more information and purchase tickets at reservingroyalty.com. Black Achievers Gala @ Benton Convention Center (W-S) 6 p.m. The YMCA of Northwest NC is hosting its 25th annual Black Achievers in Business and Industry Awards Gala, honoring the significant contributions of local businesses and individuals to the community. L’Tona Lamonte, Winston-Salem State University women’s basketball head coach, is the keynote speaker. Purchase tickets at ymcanwnc. org/achieversgala.
FRIDAY May 20 Moon Dinner @ Winston Junction Market (W-S) 6 p.m. Enjoy a moonlit dinner at Winston Junction Market where Chef Jordan Rainbolt of Native Root will prepare a five-course meal. Pair your meal with a beverage from the cash bar provided by Foothills Brewing. Purchase tickets on Eventbrite.
Rosé Soiree @ Vintage 82 (GSO) 6 p.m. Vintage 82 is hosting a get-together with eight vendors offering a unique selection of more than 30 wines for you to try. Mix and mingle while tasting sparkling brut or Pet-Nat, a naturally sparkling wine. Cheese and nibbles will be provided. Purchase tickets at square.link/u/yrwz91fQ.
Head to Reynolda for this outdoor concert featuring local favorites like Martha Bassett, Doug MacLeod and DaShawn Hickman. Food trucks and cash-only beer and wine will also be available. Purchase tickets at fiddleandbow.org/events/fb40-1. Legends of NC @ Doodad Farm (GSO) 2 p.m.
Stained Glass Playhouse presents Lend Me a Tenor, a musical comedy that shows what happens when the main character Tito Merelli wants his opera role back from his replacement. Purchase tickets at stainedglassplayhouse.org.
SATURDAY May 21 Poses N Pours @ Paddled South Brewing Co. (HP) 11 a.m. Paddled is celebrating American Craft Beer Week with an exciting lineup of events each day this week. Start your day with yoga by High Point Yoga School, then stick around for live music and food provided by Summerlins Streetside Grill at 12 and Agueybana El Bravo at 4. Find more information on the event page on Facebook.
Each spring, Doodad Farm hosts a fundraiser to benefit a local non-profit. This year’s event will celebrate local musicians and benefit New Arrivals Institute, a Greensboro-based nonprofit that helps local refugees and immigrants find success in the community. A $20 cash donation is requested but not required. Visit the event page on Facebook for more information. Dessert Auction @ Hayworth Wesleyan Church (HP) 6 p.m. Sample a selection of desserts before competing for your favorite during an auction! Sign up on the event page on Facebook.
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NEWS | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
2022 PRIMARY ELECTION
Cheri Beasley sweeps the state, Budd close behind in Senate race by Brian Clarey
orth Carolina’s US Senate primary election was over almost as soon as it began, with early voting giving Democrat Cheri Beasley an insurmountable lead and putting Rep. Ted Budd ahead of the Republican
pack to stay. At press time Beasley, the former chief justice of the NC Supreme Court, won literally every single county in the state in her pursuit to flip the seat now held by Republican Richard Burr. She captured about 85 percent of early voting totals, putting her hundreds of thousands of votes ahead of her nearest contenders, none of whom got more than 5 percent. Budd similarly swept the state with 58.6 percent with the exception of Mecklenberg County, which former NC Governor and Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory narrowly won. McCrory got 24.6 percent of the vote. Budd was the preferred candidate of former President Trump. Former Congressman Mark Walker, who said he declined Trump’s suggestion that he drop out of the race, garnered less that 10 percent of the vote. Budd and Beasley will face off in the General Election on Nov. 8. In local Congressional races, Rep. Virginia Foxx carried the District 5 Republican primary with 76.6 percent of the vote. The newly drawn district now reaches from a corner of Winston-Salem Former NC Chief Justice Cheri Beasley easily won the Democratic primary for US Senate while Rep. Ted Budd won the Republican primary. into a tiny slice of Boone. She has no Democrat challenger in November so she will continue her duties in the House. In Congressional District 6, which covers Guilford, RockZenger, Democrat Carla Catalán Day secured 68.6 percent of the vote to face him ingham and Caswell counties as well as the eastern wedge of Forsyth that includes in November. Winston-Salem and Kernersville, incumbent Democrat Rep. Kathy Manning will In District 91, which holds the northern tier of Forsyth County as well as the face Republican Christian Casstelli in November. Casstelli narrowly defeated Lee entirety of Stokes, incumbent Rep. Kyle Hall took 83 percent of the votes to win Haywood in a crowded Republican primary, ceding only Guilford to the Greensthe Republican primary; he will not face a Democrat challenger in November. boro resident. Turnout was high for a primary election. In Forsyth County, 16.5 percent for Democrat primaries in three NC House districts were resolved on Tuesday. the electorate turned out to vote, compared to 11.6 percent in the 2018 midterm In District 59, Greensboro resident Sherrie Young captured nearly 75 percent primary. Guilford posted 20.4 percent turnout against 11.3 in 2018. of the vote despite having neither a website nor a social media presence. She will face incumbent Republican Jon Hardister in November. Democrat Kanika Brown took 47.8 percent of the votes in a three-way race to win Forsyth County’s District 71 primary; she will face no Republican challenger in November, effectively winning the seat on Tuesday. She finished more than nine pints ahead of her nearest challenger, Fred Terry, the husband of incumbent Evelyn Terry who stepped down from the seat last year. In Forsyth County’s District 74, currently held by incumbent Republican Jeff
Political newcomers take school board seats while familiar faces take county commission in Forsyth County by James Douglas
en Raymond, head of the Forsyth County Republican Party, is leaned over a laptop watching the primary returns trickle in. He’s stationed in a section of Little Richards BBQ restaurant on Stratford Road and about 20 people are there, anxiously waiting to see who will move on to the race in November. So far, his companions L-R: Former Winston-Salem City Council member Dan Besse beat incumbent commissioner Ted Kaplan in the Democratic primary for the are optimistic. Ted Budd’s Forsyth County Commission at-large seat. Malishai Woodbury, former school board chair, got the top votes in the Democratic primary for face looms over the small Forsyth County Commission District A, along with Tonya McDaniel. crowd from a large flat screen TV as he gives his victory speech from his campaign HQ. Sporadic applause has Trevonia Brown Gaither with 26.2 percent, while incumbent Alex Bohannon at Budd’s speech echoes through the large room while many hit the refresh button placed second with 25.9 percent. on their devices as each of the 101 precincts post numbers. More supporters, and a few candidates slowly arrive as the night continues. School Board District 2 (4 seats available) Earlier at the Old Town Park precinct off Shattalon Drive, former US House In the District 2 Republican primary race, the top four vote-getters will face candidate Jenny Marshall passed out flyers to new arrivals promoting her candiDemocrat Jennifer Castillo who had no opponent this primary, in November. Of dates of choice for school board. A public teacher herself, she had only just arrived. the 10 Republican candidates, Robert Barr came in first with 14.3 percent, followed Betty Dowd, the precinct chair at that location, said that participation was high this closely by Stan Elrod who had 14.1 percent. Third place went to incumbent Leah year. Crowley who got 12.1 percent while Steve Wood placed fourth with 11.6 percent. “So far, we’ve had 117 people vote,” she said. “That’s not counting the 50 or so people that we had to turn away and direct to their assigned precinct.” County Commissioner At-Large (1 seat available) By 10 p.m., the restaurant is closing, and the crowd begins to dissipate. The only Former City Council member Dan Besse beat out incumbent commissioner and three candidates who attended the watch party were on track to be on the ballot former US House Representative Ted Kaplan in what some would call an upset, in November, and coincidently, in the same race. School board candidates Sarah gathering 60.7 percent to Kaplan’s 39.3 percent. Besse will face Republican Terri Absher, Michael Hardman and Allen Daniel are all running for the three at-large Mrazek in November. seats that are open. They, too, were mingling with supporters and their families. By 10:33 p.m., the results were in, with 100 percent precincts reporting.
School Board At-Large (3 seats available)
In the Republican race, Absher placed first with 20 percent of the vote. Following her was Hardman with a close 19.7 percent. Allen Daniel came in third, easing out Robert Capizzi with 15.2 percent. In the Democratic primary, incumbent Deanna Kaplan, wife of commissioner Ted Kaplan, came in first with 29.2 percent while Richard Watts came in close behind with 28 percent. Third place was Sabrina Coone-Godfrey with 23.8 percent. The three Democrats and three Republicans will face each other in November.
School Board District 1 (Two Seats available)
Forsyth County’s District 1 only has Democrats running, and the two winners in this race will become the two representatives of District 1. Final tally for District 1
NEWS | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
County Commissioner District A (2 seats available)
For District A, the two open seats went to current incumbent Tonya McDaniel and former School Board chair Malishai Woodbury. McDaniel won with 27.4 percent of the vote while Woodbury came in second with 23.8 percent. McDaniel and Woodbury will face Republicans Reginald Reid and Michael R. Owens in November.
Clerk of Superior Court (1 seat available)
In this race of just three Democrats, incumbent Denise Hines won a majority of the vote with 56.7 percent compared to Tina Flowers’ 36.4 percent and John Snow’s 6.9 percent.
NEWS | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
Incumbents win big in Guilford, Greensboro midterm primary election races by Sayaka Matsuoka
ncumbents raked in huge percentages of the vote in Guilford County and Greensboro races on Tuesday night in the midterm primary election. The turnout, which was about 20.4 percent of the electorate, proved to be much higher than the turnout compared to 2018, when only 11 percent of registered voters had their say. This year they seemed somewhat satisfied with the status quo.
Greensboro mayoral and city council races
otable vote-getters included Nancy Vaughan, incumbent mayor of Greensboro, who had close to 45 percent of the vote by 11:30 p.m. with 100 percent of precincts reporting in. Vaughan has served as mayor since 2013 and has been on city council since 1997 when she was first elected to District 4. She won 93 of 108 precincts in the city, tied two and left her nearest competitor, Justin Outling, with 13. “I am very pleased with the primary results,” Vaughan texted to TCB on Tuesday night. “When you look at the precinct map it shows that I have a wide and broad base of support throughout the city. I will continue to focus on the residents of Greensboro and build on our successes.” Incumbent Greensboro mayor Nancy Vaughan placed first in the mayoral race with 45 percent Outling came in second place with 35.3 percent of the vote and of the vote while her biggest competitor, Justin Outling, came in second with 35.3 percent. The will face Vaughan in the general election on July 26. Outling has two will face off in the July 26 general election. been on Greensboro city council as the District 3 representative since 2015. percent and will face Foushee, who got 12.9 percent, in July. Both Democrats, Vaughan and Outling have been running a competitive camIn the District 2 race, incumbent Goldie Wells came in first too, but with a paign against one another despite being colleagues on council for the last seven smaller margin than Hightower. Wells, who was appointed to council in 2017, got years. Outling has called out Vaughan’s leadership, calling for more change partic42.6 percent of the vote while her second-place opponent, Cecile Crawford got ularly when it comes to handling the rise in gun violence while Vaughan has been 29.8 percent. Crawford will face Wells in the July general election. At a watch party critical of Outling’s potential conflict of interest as an attorney for Brooks Pierce, a in LeBauer Park downtown, Crawford said that it’s difficult running against an law firm that handles many of the city’s contract negotiations. incumbent but that she’ll keep trying. Third and fourth place in the mayoral race went to Mark Cummings who raked “Our district needs a lot of help,” she said. “It needs affordable housing and in 10.2 percent and Eric Robert, who got 9.5 percent by 11:30 p.m. measures for safety.” As for other Greensboro city council races, Yvonne Johnson and Marikay On getting enough votes to move to the general election, Crawford said, “it’s a Abuzuaiter, both incumbents, took first and second place handily in the at-large testament to how hard our organization has worked. This was definitely an ‘us.’” race with 25 percent and 16.4 percent of the vote, respectively. The next four In District 3, former city council member Zack Matheny won 61.2 percent of candidates — the top six vote-getters move on to the general election in July — the vote. Matheny, a registered Republican, is well-known in Greensboro for his were all neck and neck with less than one percentage point between them all. Tracy position as the president of Downtown Greensboro Inc., a position he intends to Furman, who came in third with 10.2 percent, ran unsuccessfully for Guilford keep if re-elected to city council. Earlier in the day at Mendenhall Middle School, County Commission in 2018. At her watch party at ReAligned in downtown Matheny said that he received good feedback from voters he talked to. Greensboro, Furman said she would be happy to just come in third or fourth place. “It’s been seven years and I’ve had so many people say they’re glad to see my Following close behind Furman was incumbent Hugh Holston with 10 percent of name back on the ballot,” he said. the vote. Holston has held an at-large seat since September 2021 when city council Matheny was first elected to the District 3 Greensboro City Council seat in 2007, unanimously chose him to fill the seat left vacant after Michelle Kennedy resigned. a position he held until 2015 when he left to work for Downtown Greensboro Inc. Fifth place went to Katie Rossabi, who has strong Republican support as one of the Second place went to Chip Roth, a well-known political strategist who has worked only registered Republicans in the at-large race. She got 9.8 percent of the vote. In for the Obama administration. Roth got 28.3 percent of the vote and will face sixth place was Linda Wilson, the executive director of NC A&T State University’s Matheny in the general election in July. student health center, with 9.6 percent. The tightest Greensboro city council race was the District 5 race between In the Greensboro city council District 1 race, incumbent Sharon Hightower incumbent Democrat Tammi Thurm and political rival Republican Tony Wilkins. took first place in a landslide against her two challengers, Felton Foushee and TimThis time around, Thurm placed first with 45.4 percent of the vote to Wilkins’ 42.2 othy Kirkpatrick. Hightower, who has held the seat since 2018, raked in close to 78 percent. In 2017, Wilkins was ousted by Thurm by just 10 percentage points. The
NEWS | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
L-R: Cece Crawford moves on to the general election in July in the Greensboro city council District 2 race after coming in second place after incumbent Goldie Wells. Tracy Furman, who placed third in the at-large primary, will also move on to the July 26 general election along with Hugh Holston, Katie Rossabi and Linda Wilson.
two will face each other once again in the general election in July.
Guilford County races
ike with the Greensboro municipal races, the races for the Guilford County seats also favored incumbents on Tuesday. In the Guilford County Commission at-large race, incumbent Kay Cashion who has been in the seat since 2004, beat organizer and pastor Greg Drumwright by less than 7 points. Both Democrats, Cashion represented the established status quo against Drumwright’s younger, more politically progressive candidacy that centered around issues such as systemic racism. On the Republican side, Alan Branson became one step closer to getting back on the county commission after beating opponent Alvin Robinson with 69.7 percent of the vote, compared to Robinson’s 30.3 percent. Branson first won election to the board of county commissioners in 2012 and narrowly lost his re-election bid in 2020. Branson will face Cashion in November. For the District 2 race, Republican incumbent Alan Perdue won with 56.1 percent of the vote against Steve Arnold who got 43.9 percent. Perdue has served on county commission since 2014 and will face Democrat Paul Meinhart — who did not have a primary opponent — in November. In the District 3 Republican primary, Pat Tillman made his move to county commission with 41.3 percent of the vote. Former Oak Ridge town council member George McClellan came in second with 33.9 percent. Since 2016, Tillman has served on the school board in District 3 but will now face Democrat Derek Mobley in November. In his first election, incumbent Frankie T. Jones Jr. won the Democratic primary for the District 7 county commission race with 59.8 percent of the vote. Jones was first appointed to the seat after longtime incumbent Carolyn Coleman passed away in late January. Jones will face Republican Kenny Abbe, who won with 56 percent of the vote, come November. In the school board races, the Republican candidates backed by the conservative group Take Back Our Schools won handily in both of the Republican prima-
ries. In District 2, Crissy Pratt won against Marc Ridgill with 54.9 percent of the vote to Ridgill’s 45.1 percent. Pratt will face Democrat Amanda Cook in November. In District 6, Republican Tim Andrew won with 63.8 percent compared to his opponent, Matthew Kuennen’s 36.2 percent. Andrew will face incumbent Democrat Khem Irby in November. Incumbents also kept their seats in the Guilford judicial races. For clerk of superior court, Lisa Johnson-Tonkins won with 73.3 percent compared to her opponent, Lu-Ann Wilkinson who got 26.7 percent. And in the district attorney race, which was also decided on Tuesday because there are no Republicans running, incumbent Avery Crump was re-elected her seat after garnering 66.1 percent. “I thank the citizens of Guilford County for their vote and support,” Crump texted TCB. “I will continue to work hard and serve with integrity to promote positive change for Guilford County.” Her opponent, Brenton Boyce, got 33.9 percent and told TCB that despite the results, he was encouraged because of the higher voter turnout compared to four years ago. When asked if he would run again, he said that he might if things don’t change the way he wants them to. “I ran because I thought there was a problem,” he said. “But maybe me running will change things.” Lastly, in the Guilford County sheriff’s race, incumbent Danny Rogers won the Democratic primary with 57.9 percent of the vote while Republican Phil Byrd won with 40.4 percent. The two will face each other come November. As for the bond referenda, the school bond passed easily with 60.6 percent but the sales tax that would have helped pay for the vote did not, with 55 percent of voters voting against the increase.
OPINION | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
EDITORIAL Spilling it about the mayor’s race
Jen Sorensen jensorensen.com
ow that the primary is dates want to talk about, forcing done with, our onethem to defend accusations of man editorial board corruption and impropriety. (that’s me!) has a brief window in We’re interested in Robert’s latest which he can write in this space accusation — that the city impropabout the Greensboro municipal erly shut down the gun show at the election before resuming ad sales city-owned Greensboro Coliseum in time for the general, which he’d and then covered it up. like to remind you is on July 26, For the record: We don’t think with early voting starting a couple the city should be in the business weeks before that. of selling guns. Not then, shortly Though each is not without after 43 guns were stolen from this some baggage, this is the best same gun show, including several slate of mayoral AR-style auto-loadcandidates we’ve Though each is not ing rifles, and not had in at least 20 now, amid a serious without some years. And as of wave of gun viobaggage, this is this writing, the lence in the city. author has no idea And let us never the best slate of who got through forget that the city’s mayoral candidates handling of the gun the primary. we’ve had in at The incumbent show was what has a solid record prompted Foot least 20 years. upon which to hang Locker employee her hat — lots of Mark Robinson to development and big-ticket job speak out at a Greensboro City creation. She’s also a policy wonk Council meeting in an appearance who understands the mechanics of that quickly went viral, fueling to his getting things done. Justin Outelection as lieutenant governor of ling is a spectacular candidate for the state. any office: he’s whip smart, with a Note, too, that this glance against lawyer’s sense of aggression and the Second Amendment could do caution. And he always does the for Robert what it did for Robinson. reading. Despite his past, Mark Remember, the city election is Cummings deserves a second look nonpartisan, and Republicans will because we know how often Black show up in droves because of the men get removed from positions of Senate race. In a 4-way race, all he power under false pretenses. And needs is more than 25 percent of Eric Robert has moved this electhe vote to push him through the tion’s Overton Window away from primary. the subjects the seasoned candi-
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CULTURE | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
Ahead of Greensboro Bound, Guilford College’s Dr. Diya Abdo talks about refugee community, upcoming book by Luis H. Garay
PHOTO BY CHERYL DIAZ MEYER
Dr. Diya Abdo will be speaking as part of the panel for the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival which starts on Thursday.
Dr. Diya Adbo is the Lincoln Financial Professor of English in the Department of English and Creative Writing at Guilford College. She is the author of American Refuge: True Stories of the Refugee Experience to be released this September. Dr. Adbo is also the founder of Every Campus A Refuge which works with refugee families on college and university campuses to assist in their resettlement. On May 22, Dr. Abdo will be speaking as part of the ‘Immigration and Refugee Matters’ panel for the Greensboro Bound Literary Festival, which runs from May 19-22. Ahead of her session with Greensboro Bound Festival, Dr. Abdo spoke to Triad City Beat about the shifting landscape of refugee support, the work of ECAR in the last several years, the inspiration for her book, and what it means to be a part of the upcoming festival. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
I wanted to start by introducing you to our readers. Who are you? What is your background?
The first thing I always say about myself is that I’m Palestinian. I think most Palestinians do that. I was born and raised in Jordan. My parents and grandparents were Palestinian refugees and I studied in Jordan as an undergrad… and studied English language and literature. I was really interested in being a professor. I knew from a very young age that that’s what I wanted to do. After I finished my bachelor’s degree, I applied to United States institutions for my master’s and PhD because the plan was to get both and come back to Jordan to be a professor at a Jordanian university. I got into a really lovely, small, liberal arts institution in New Jersey called Drew University, which is where I got my master’s and PhD. Initially, I was very much an Americanist, I was interested in 20th Century American literature. While I was in New Jersey… Sept. 11 happened. It just fundamentally changed everybody’s lives and the trajectory of my own. As one of the very few Muslim and Arab women on that campus, I became the go-to for a lot of people who wanted to know more about Arab and Muslim women.
I knew about myself, and I knew a little bit about my community back in Jordan and, of course, Palestine. But it was clear that I was being asked to speak at a very different level that I was not comfortable representing. What that did, though, was it made me really curious and interested in Arab women writers and Arab and Islamic feminisms. So I changed my field of study and focused on Arab and Islamic feminism and Arab women writers. Now that’s my specialty.
How did you come to Greensboro? I decided to go back to Jordan [after school] and teach in Jordan. While I was in Jordan, an article that I had published, a comparative piece between a Lebanese novel and an Irish play that focused on the use of women’s bodies and queer bodies in political conflict, was flagged by the university where I was teaching as anti-Islamic. They asked me to resign because of that publication and I challenged them. We spent the year back and forth and eventually they sort of took back the resignation. But I had felt just really broken by that experience so I applied for jobs. When I saw the Guilford [College] job description, I just felt that this was the perfect place for me. I’m happy that I landed here. So I came
I think the pandemic has really, first of all, made it harder for us to engage other campuses because so many people were just treading water. The students were all at home. It was hard to grow ECAR during that time. The other thing that happened is that we have a new president. A lot of policies around refugees and immigrants are so different now. During the Trump administration, there were executive orders about particular countries that were not allowed to come in and there was a very steep lowering of the refugee admission numbers. A lot of those things were changed and reversed with the Biden administration and the increase in the refugee admission cap. But then, of course, Afghanistan and then Ukraine. I would say that as we were getting out of COVID during the last year and as we were receiving Afghani evacuees — over 80,000 — it became more urgent to engage campuses in the work because of not only the pandemic, but also because the policies of the previous administration had really affected the refugee resettlement landscape in this country. And so we have been really working very hard to engage campuses over the last few months. The other thing that we’ve been really doing at ECAR is growing our materials that we can offer to implement this effort as quickly as possible. We’ve always had a best-practices manual. We also developed a handbook for program coordinators and developed implementation checklists. We’ve developed trainings to train other campuses in implementing this work. And we’ve also developed a really cool tool called the ECAR Map Tool. It is a map of this country with every college and university, every resettlement agency and as many refugee support organizations as we can put in. And it really allows every college or university to put in their name and find their partners so that they can develop these resettlement ecosystems.
Your new book American Refuge: True Stories of the Refugee Experience comes out this September. What was the process and inspiration for this book? When I thought about the kind of books that I would want to write that spoke to the refugee experience, I thought about the kinds of books that I can’t find and would like to assign to my students. So the kind of book that told a story but in a way that was really grounded in dignity and agency, that did not fetishize their tragedy, did not make a spectacle of their tragedy, but really spoke about it in ways that were just human and straightforward. I wanted that ethos, but also to capture the journey because before a refugee is a refugee, they’re like everybody. They’re just minding their business, living their lives. They love the homes they come from. Something happens that’s disastrous that causes them to leave in a moment, in a second, in a week. And then they find themselves at the border of a neighboring country and there’s a process that they go through. And then there’s a refugee camp, and then there’s the resettlement experience once they come to the United States. So the arc of that journey is long and it is very complex. The before, the during, the after, I wanted a text that could cover individual experiences, to show the diversity of
In watching some of your talks, I was struck by the fact that the resettlement process in the US is 90 days which is shorter than in countries like Canada and Germany.
A lot of things are not necessarily public knowledge about the refugee resettlement program [in the US]. That it is a 90-day program with the expectation of self-sufficiency at the end of those 90 days, that a refugee receives $1,000 and some change as a one-time stipend. That’s it. And that refugees have to pay back the plane ticket that brought them here to the resettlement agencies.
MAY 19 - 24, 2022
In 2018, Triad City Beat profiled Every Campus A Refuge. How has the program changed and how has the work shifted since 2018?
folks who at one point were called refugees or designated as refugees, but also to show the variations in those experiences and the similarities that nobody wants to leave their home. That resettlement is hard. No matter what they tell you, landing in this country is not the end of your problems.
back to the US in 2008. I’ve been at Guilford ever since, with the exception of two years that I took leave to direct the Center for New North Carolinians at UNCG.
Is there anything else you want to add about the inspiration for your book? In my time at Every Campus A Refuge, I’d become close with several folks that we’ve hosted [at Guilford College]. I knew, obviously, their stories very intimately, but those were stories that were shared with me in confidence. I actually went back to some of those individuals and said, ‘Would you be interested in sharing your story for a book?’ Then we did formal interviews for the purpose of this book. That was really a lesson for me and how if you’re sharing personal experiences, you have to have that kind of permission and that kind of consent from folks. The book is the stories of several people who have participated in ECAR. The last chapter is just a lot of information about refugee resettlement, the history of refugee resettlement and all of the basic information that I think would be really helpful for people to know about refugees and refugee experiences.
You’re part of a session called ‘Immigration and Refugee Matters’ for Greensboro Bound. What does it mean for you to be a part of the festival? We are very proud of the Scuppernong Books. Most recently I’ve read there as part of an anthology I’m in called Crossing the Rift: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 and Its Aftermath. I’m just incredibly honored that I am at a level where I get to be part of the festival. For me, Greensboro is a special place, and the book is really about Greensboro. The book is about the folks who have come to Greensboro to resettle, the folks who have come to Greensboro to start at the next step in their journey as newcomers. For me, it’s like full circle to have that book be part of the festival because it is a Greensboro book.
Anything else you’d like to mention? I think there is so much energy right now around supporting refugees, whether it’s Afghan or Ukrainian refugees. I think it would be really great if readers really thought about maybe their alma maters or maybe their son goes to a university or their daughter goes to a college that they might bring this idea to. And I’m always happy to connect with folks who want to brainstorm how they can get a local college or university engaged in welcoming refugees.
SHOT IN THE TRIAD | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
SHOT IN THE TRIAD BY CAROLYN DE BERRY
Benjamin Parkway, Greensboro
Alexis and Josh Chandler, with children Banks and Phoenix, review their choices before casting their vote on Primary Election Day.
‘Outside Help’—in with the assist. by Matt Jones
LAST WEEK’S ANSWERS:
1. Goes with the flow? 5. Swing your arms around like Kermit 10. Has no presence 14. Snack that turned 110 in March 15. Grounation Day participant 16. Philistine 17. Altered, before Photoshop, maybe 19. “Knights of Cydonia” band 20. 2000 TV show with a 2021 sequel 21. Suffix for Quebec 22. Barrett of Pink Floyd 24. Greek goddess of night 25. Former German chancellor Kohl 27. “The Handmaid’s Tale” actress Ann 29. Vitamin C, alternately 35. Specialty of Lenny Bruce or Jimmy Carr 38. Compete like gold medalists Momiji Nishiya and Keegan Palmer 39. Name in machine-made frozen drinks 40. Uruguayan currency 42. Commedia dell’___ 43. Gal on screen 45. Switches around the kids’ room? 47. Advice to those not wishing to win completely 49. “How foolish ___!” 50. M&M variety 54. It holds a lot of coffee 56. Scam Tracker agcy. 58. Div. of a fiscal year 59. “It’s ___-win situation” 60. Best Picture winner of 2022 62. Offer that may bring you a lot 65. Weather report stats 66. Fade out, like a light 67. Picture, in old product names 68. Quickly, on memos 69. Throw barbs (at) 70. Chest contents
PUZZLES | MAY 19 - 24, 2022
© 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (firstname.lastname@example.org)
sequel’s title 30. Signs of the future 31. Perez who did a guest voice on “Dora the Explorer” 32. Bucking horse 33. Put ___ the test 34. “Disco Duck” DJ Rick 35. “___ Little Deeper” (song from “The Princess and the Frog”) 36. “Superfruit” berry 37. Home of Microsoft’s corporate HQ 41. Freeze, in a sci-fi story 44. Archaeological find 46. Febrero preceder 48. Packs again at the checkout 51. Home planet of Queen Amidala 52. Solidarity Down 53. Commotions 1. Recent Canadian “Jeopardy!” super-champ 54. Pac-12 team © 2022 Jonesin’ Crosswords (email@example.com) Mattea 55. Joeys and other jumpers 2. Come up 57. “___ giorno!” (Italian for “good morning!”) LAST WEEK’S ANSWERS: 3. Thin ice, say 58. Swab on a stick 4. Show sorrow 61. Snake that bit Cleopatra 5. Round item in a bag lunch 63. One-fifth of MMV 6. Aberdeen teen 64. Part of a Bored Ape collection, e.g. 7. Retired tennis star Barty 8. Suffix meaning “residents” 9. “Candle in the Wind 1997” dedicatee, familiarly 10. “Big Blue” company 11. Computer audio installation 12. Overly curious 13. “Jurassic Park” dinosaur, for short 18. The “R” of NASCAR’s RFK Racing 23. Physicians, informally 26. Steal, with “with” 28. Place referenced in the “Black Panther”
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May 19-22, 2022 4 days, 29 events, 55 authors greensborobound.com *Online ticket reservation cutoff is 9:00PM the night prior to the event. However, you can still attend without a reservation— WALK-UPS WELCOMED!