Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill October 20, 2021
Inside the Triangle's housing shortage BY JASMINE GALLUP, P. 15
October 20, 2021
Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 38 NO. 40
"A lot of things in my past are also my present. I was a trans person before I realized that I was a trans person, so that’s still the most relevant. And same about my relationship to my spirituality," says Anjimile, p. 18 PHOTO COURTESY OF FATHER/DAUGHTER RECORDS
CONTENTS NEWS 6
In North Carolina, distribution challenges exacerbate a national Naloxone shortage amid rising numbers of overdoses. BY ANNA MUDD A Durham man charged with a center lane violation tells the story of his first cousin—George Floyd—in a courthouse moment.
BY NICOLE KAGAN
10 Walter Hussman, Jr. returned to UNC-Chapel Hill last week. Few were happy to see the journalism school's namesake mega donor. BY JOE KILLIAN 13 Durham city and county officials hope a leadership initiative from ex-gang members will help to address the Bull City's gun violence epidemic. BY THOMASI MCDONALD
15 Raleigh's (and the Triangle's) housing shortage is at a crisis point. But experts say there is more elected officials could do to address the problem. BY JASMINE GALLUP
ARTS & CULTURE 18
It's been an eventful year for the musician Anjimile, who just moved to Durham. They're rolling with the punches. BY SHELBI POLK 20 The award-winning playwright Howard Craft looks back at the play that changed everything. BY BYRON WOODS 21 Home Is Distant Shores Film Festival showcases the diverse stories of immigrants and refugees. BY ALLEN SIEGLER
THE REGULARS 4 Drawn Out
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October 20, 2021
BACK TA L K
Last week, we released our endorsements for municipal races in Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Carrboro. We didn’t endorse Carrboro town council incumbents Randee Haven-O’Donnell and Jacquelyn Gist for what we described as reactionary stances on the town’s providing alternate modes of transit—specifically, building out the Bolin Creek Greenway. This is a contentious issue in Carrboro, and many residents do not believe the Bolin Creek Greenway can or should be developed for pedestrians and cyclists, including reader MICHAEL PAUL, who emailed us the following:
DR AW N OUT BY STEVE DAUGHERTY
October 20, 2021
I am writing as a concerned Carrboro citizen and a supporter of both Jackie Gist and Randee Haven-Odonnell. First, you ought to know that the proposed Bolin Creek Greenway is proposed to be placed in one of the largest intact forested parks in the region and not along primarily residential right of ways, like many greenways are. That makes this unique. I’d be interested to know how the removal of trees to pave a path addresses climate change when there are viable alternative plans that provide safe bike travel lanes along existing paved roads that are climate neutral, financially viable, and protect the environment. Win - win - win. That is a progressive position - not a reactionary one. And that is the position Jackie and Randee have taken. Second, both of Carrboro’s Comprehensive Plan: both Carrboro Vision 2000 and the new Carrboro Connects ongoing plan place are built from the town’s priorities and the new plan was built after 7 listening sessions and ongoing input from 100s to 1000s of citizens. Both documents reflect our town’s value of riparian forests for their value in flood control, water quality, recreation, climate control, wildlife and quality of life. Both documents place this as a priority above greenways. For example, “Review and revise the provisions in the Land Use Ordinance as they relate to stormwater and development to provide better protection to streams and riparian areas. Limit disturbance of riparian areas while maintaining sanitary sewer infrastructure and greenways (BCWRP, 2012) (Little Creek Watershed Assessment, 2003). Work with OWASA to identify disturbed riparian areas near sanitary sewer infrastructure. Riparian areas refer to terrestrial land in the transition between river or stream
to land. Limit any future disturbance to minimum extent and reestablish vegetation when possible.” Lastly, when this topic has come up in the past and these plans proposed, only a small group of greenway interests have supported it and it was resisted by a much larger population of citizens - which is why those plans have gone nowhere in Carrboro; because the majority of citizens do not want it. In many ways, this is a classic Carrboro conundrum - pitting environmental protection interests against bike/transportation interests. Sheesh. but, no one is saying we do not need safer alternate modes of transportation - I am a biker and I bike on greenways. But I am also a stream ecologist, a hiker and an environmentalist. Your endorsement implies we can’t have intact forest and access to alternative modes of transportation and better non-car connectivity. That is a false dichotomy. We can have both and, in so doing, vault ahead of our neighbors to the east in terms of connectivity, livability, equity AND a clean environment. It’s a win-win-win. I hope you will publish a retraction/correction and note that these two candidates are on the progressive side of this issue.
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Out of Stock BY JASMINE GALLUP firstname.lastname@example.org
ith more people moving into Wake County each day, house prices and rents are skyrocketing. Data reveals how increased demand is pushing people out of the Triangle as officials try and fight the housing crisis with more funding, more building, and changes to zoning laws. For a deeper dive into Triangle housing, see story page 15.
Low Supply, High Demand
85.2% of NC housing units are occupied
Raleigh Zoning 9% 30.8%
Other (9%) High density (30.8%) Medium density (14.2%) Low density (1.8%) Office/institutional (21.5%) Commercial (22.8%)
Raleigh's $80M Affordable Housing Bond $6M $16M
$350,000 $70,000 $1,600
Repairs to existing homes Financial help for homebuyers Buying land near major highways Funding nonprofit housing projects Building affordable housing
home median price of a single-family home in the Triangle
down payment monthly cost
That's unaffordable for most:
college lab professors scientists
91.7% of Raleigh housing units are occupied
per month average cost of renting a one-bedroom apartment in Raleigh
per month how much someone has to earn to spend less than 30% of their income on rent
That's unaffordable for most:
elementary school teachers
Sources: City of Raleigh data, Triangle MLS, National Low Income Housing Coalition Out of Reach report INDYweek.com
October 20, 2021
N E WS
Deadly Deficiency With rising overdoses and a flawed distribution system, a national Naloxone shortage could lead to thousands of deaths. BY ANNA MUDD email@example.com
t was New Year’s Eve. Devin Lyall sat in the back bedroom of her drug dealer’s house. Her thin fingers fumbled with the syringe. Her fingers weren’t the only frail thing about her—in the past few months she had lost about 40 pounds, leaving her practically skin and bones. She was using Opana, a strong narcotic, melting the small, circular pills into a liquid that she could inject. As the dregs of 2012 trickled into the New Year, Lyall didn’t have much hope. It was as if her life was ticking away as quickly as the seconds remaining before midnight. She was shaking, chills running through her body, yet she was so hot she felt like she was on fire. She kept injecting, hoping it was the relief her body needed. She woke up later, lying in a hospital bed. Her mother and father stood over her. She wasn’t sure when or how she had gotten there. Lyall had overdosed. The drug dealer had called her mother, who rushed her to Wilkes Medical Center. They made it in time for doctors to give Lyall the reversal drug Naloxone, saving her life. “I remember in that moment feeling very helpless, but relieved,” Lyall said. “I was so glad that I wasn’t in that house anymore and that maybe I had an opportunity to do something different. It was the first time in a long time that I thought maybe I can get help.” She began the new year in the ICU for seven days, a regular room for 10 more, and detox for 14 after that. 6
October 20, 2021
aloxone is a drug that blocks the nervous system’s opiate receptors. It is most commonly used for drug overdoses— Narcan is a well-known brand name. In August, Pfizer halted production of its single-dose injectable Naloxone, due to a manufacturing issue. This causes issues as buyers’ organizations distribute this Naloxone to many grassroots harm reduction coalitions across the state. Dr. Nabarun Dasgupta, drug and infectious disease scientist at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and others estimate the interruption would result in about 1 million fewer doses, which could lead to as many as 18,000 avoidable overdose deaths. In 2012, the year Devin overdosed, Naloxone and overdose kits weren’t common in clinics, harm reduction coalitions, or other local organizations. Hardly any individual had them on hand. In a way, Devin was fortunate. She had a dealer who called her mother, and her mother responded. Many who overdosed at the time weren’t as lucky. Now, Naloxone is more accessible—on pharmacy shelves, part of local syringe exchange programs, and often in first responders’ hands. This access is crucial, especially as opioid overdose deaths rose to an all-time high in North Carolina in 2020. The change is largely a result of North Carolina’s 2016 Naloxone Standing Order which allows pharmacists to dispense Naloxone to those who need it and for community distribution. But addiction recovery experts say the Standing Order is not doing enough to blunt the rapid rise of opioid addiction.
Packing harm reduction kits at a Wilkesboro recovery center “There’s a third tier of programs around the state that rely on other programs to purchase Naloxone for them,” Dasgupta says. “So, these are sponsored programs, programs run by people of color serving people of color, and they are ones that don’t have the official paperwork to buy and purchase Naloxone—but have the really critical infrastructure to get it to where it needs to go.” Getting Naloxone to these local harm reduction groups is critical, because this is often where active users—who are most at risk—go for Naloxone. The Standing Order only covers distribution—not purchasing. Pharmaceutical companies producing Naloxone require a prescription. This is where the nuances of the North Carolina’s Order stand in the way of easily getting Naloxone to the organizations where it is most effective. “The Standing Order, it’s kind of a sham,” Dasgupta says. “Our legislature came up with a piecemeal, almost useless version of a law that created this Standing Order, then feel like they’ve done something and wash their hands of it. What would have really helped is for these smaller programs to be able to order Naloxone directly from pharmaceutical distributors.”
PHOTO BY LUCAS PRUITT
With rising overdoses, a flawed Standing Order, and a Pfizer Naloxone shortage, North Carolina faces what could be a nightmare.
ouise Vincent is the executive director of the NC Urban Survivors Union, a grassroots Greensboro group working to support and assure safety for opioid users in the community through syringe exchanges and by providing Naloxone. “If I didn’t have Naloxone I couldn’t go to work’” Vincent says. “I could not look someone in the face and tell them I don’t have Naloxone and send them to die—because you’re literally sending someone off to die if you don’t have it.” This reality landed on national consultant Robert Suarez’s doorstep at Urban Survivors just a few weeks ago. A young woman ran into the center screaming. Her friend was overdosing in her car right outside the clinic. Suarez grabbed two bottles of Naloxone, ran outside, opened the passenger side door, climbed on top of the overdosing man, and administered the lifesaving drug. After he injected the Naloxone, Suarez said he gave him mouth-to-mouth during the four minutes it took the Naloxone to work.
“Within the harm reduction circle there is a huge concern—there never has been the full access that is necessary to make the difference Naloxone can,” Brason says. “Any reduction from what was already not sufficient is going to create major problems.”
racy Coins, a waitress in Greensboro, relies on the Urban Survivors Union for Naloxone. “The circle of people that I travel in wouldn’t go anywhere else but Urban Survivors,” Coins says. “They don’t want to walk into places like CVS or Walgreens because those people are so judgmental.” In August, Coins saved someone overdosing right in front of her with the Naloxone she had on hand. She was with a group of people at a friend’s house, and they were all doing heroin. Suddenly, one man curled up, his body as tense as a rubber band stretched to its limits, his arms and legs locked up. Coins looked around the room and realized that no one had any idea how to help. “I carry Naloxone with me all the time if I can,” she said. “The only place I get it is through Urban Survivors.” Coins gave him Naloxone and mouth-tomouth until he came to. Local harm reduction agencies acknowledge that there are people who are going
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“Four minutes is an eternity when someone isn’t breathing on their own,” Suarez says. A month into Pfizer’s Naloxone shortage, the Urban Survivor’s Union supplies remain sufficient—for now. But the fear of coming up short is pervasive. “I’m acutely aware that there’s a shortage, and I want to be mindful,” Vincent says. “I cannot run out. I will not run out. Bottom line is I won’t run out. There’s expired Naloxone that I’ve already figured out how to access. We’re pretty scrappy people, I’m going to find it.” Another way harm reduction groups are coping with this shortage is by getting Naloxone from larger organizations across the state with the ability to purchase from other pharmaceutical distributors. One of these groups helping provide Naloxone is Project Lazarus in Wilkes County. They have a medical director able to order the drug. “We’ve worked with what stock we have, and every time we have looked at getting Naloxone it wasn’t just for ourselves,” says Fred Brason, executive director and founder. “I’ve given Louise Vincent Naloxone, I’ve given it to Twin Cities Harm Reduction.” Brason explains that studies show that people who go to a pharmacy for Naloxone are usually family members or friends of a user, rather than the user themselves.
PHOTO BY LUCAS PRUITT
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to use drugs. By providing Naloxone, and hosting syringe exchanges, they give these people the option to have a safer experience.
fter Lyall’s near-fatal New Year’s Eve, she got clean. She gradually got her life back—her house, her kids, and she reconnected with her family. Today, she is the founder and executive director of Wilkes Recovery Revolution. Wilkes Recovery focuses on helping people overcome addiction, and is a harm reduction center—working to assure users are safe, distributing Naloxone, and trying to decrease stigma. “Syringe exchange programs are truly the people that are boots on the ground,” Lyall says. “We’re the ones intersecting with people who use drugs and serving them on a daily basis, yet we are the last to get Naloxone, when I think it should probably the other way around. So, if there’s a shortage, then we’re definitely hurting at the grassroots level, as a syringe exchange.” Pfizer expects its Naloxone shortage to continue through February 2022, leaving
harm reduction groups to continue relying on sources whose Naloxone supplies are diminishing. Lyall says she had a wonderful life before her addiction. A supportive, upper middle-class upbringing. A good job and a family of her own. When she slipped down some icy stairs at a ski resort, shattering her ankle, she had no idea that the pain medicine she would be prescribed would be the start to a crippling addiction. Now, Lyall reflects on pulling herself out of the depth of her addiction, how difficult this was, and how lucky she was to get Naloxone in time to save her life. At Wilkes Recovery Center, she wants to give people this same chance. “When I moved back home, my mission was to give other people the opportunities that I had,” she says. “I understand that I was a privileged person and that not everybody gets those same options and opportunities and that I was very lucky to have.” W This story was published in partnership with UNC Media Hub.
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Say His Name In traffic court in the Durham County Courthouse, Anthony Rashad Floyd contests a center lane violation. In his testimony he tells a larger story— about the death of his first-cousin, George Floyd. BY NICOLE KAGAN email@example.com
raffic court is full. People sit chin in hand, eyelids heavy. Some stomp out of the courtroom, then return a few minutes later. Others grimace, checking their watches and rolling their eyes. And some are not so silent: “What the f—, bruh. I got places to be.” It’s noon on a recent Wednesday at the Durham County Courthouse, and even Judge Pat Evans wants to get a move on. She sits at the bench in her robe with her long black hair, gray at the roots, pulled tight in a ponytail. She sticks to a script: call a name, hear a case, make a ruling, repeat. The defendants don’t stick to the same script. They bring the wrong papers, they go to the wrong place, and they come late, or not at all. Of those who make it, most accept blame for their tickets, pay a fine, and get out. Few contest their citations, and fewer win. On this day, September 22, Anthony Rashad Floyd chose to be one of the few. And soon, the courtroom would understand why. Floyd, a Durham resident, arrives at court on time in a yellow polo shirt, black jeans and loafers. He appears to be in his 40s. As he waits in the gallery, yellow light reflects off his diamond earrings. Three months ago, Floyd was driving down route 70 on his way to JJ Fish & Chicken in Durham for an early dinner. It was 5 p.m. and there was heavy traffic. “Bumper to bumper,” he says. On this much, Floyd and the deputy who cited him agree. Beyond that, their stories conflict.
On the stand, Floyd says that when his turn came, he put on his blinker and moved into the center lane. Then he says he decided he could wait to eat, so he signaled and merged back out to head home. That’s when Deputy T. Hatch pulled him over. “You gotta be kidding,” says a voice in the courtroom as Floyd tells his story. “Can’t believe he took this to trial.” Center lane violations rarely make it to court. Most people prefer a small fine to a morning in traffic court. Floyd is not most people. “It’s about principle,” Floyd will say in an interview after the hearing. “I didn’t do anything wrong, and I am not gonna let an officer take advantage of me like I know they do.” In May 2020, Floyd’s first cousin was murdered in a Minneapolis street by a police officer who pinned him to the ground for more than nine and a half minutes until he stopped breathing. This cousin’s name was George Floyd. When Anthony Floyd announces this to the court, those listening in the gallery don’t believe him. Some laugh. “Yeah, right,” says a voice in the back. Others remain quiet, unsure how to react. Anthony says that he and George were “tight.” After George’s death, Anthony went to marches with family and yelled “say his name” with a fist in the air. He has photos of himself the day before the funeral standing with George’s attorney, Al Sharpton, and Joe Biden. He’s still in disbelief about his cousin’s death. He’s also more uneasy around police.
Durham County Courthouse
PHOTO BY JOSIE VONK
When Hatch pulled him over, Floyd’s face got hot. He didn’t know why he was being stopped. Hatch told him he didn’t signal when he switched lanes. Floyd replied that he did, and he would fight this in court. “That’s your right,” Hatch said before returning to his patrol car. Floyd knows his rights. Aside from a speeding ticket at 16, Floyd’s never been in trouble with the law. “I was on point with everything,” he says in court. “So as far as being behind the wheel, I made sure that at all times, especially since what happened to my cousin, that I follow all the rules. That’s how I know for a fact I used my turn signal. The dashcam footage will show that. Where is the dashcam footage?” He asks this question 12 times in court. No one gives a clear answer. “That’s a whole process,” Hatch says. At George Floyd’s trial, video was a star witness. Jurors watched film from cell phones, body cams, dash cams, and surveillance cams. Video footage brought justice for George. Anthony wants it to do the same for him, but Hatch doesn’t want to deal with the “process.” It seems that Evans doesn’t either.
Once Hatch and Anthony are done testifying, she rules. “Your cousin has nothing to do with this matter,” she says. “The citation stands.” Anthony stays still for a moment. He turns to look at the people in the gallery behind him, but they avoid eye contact. He looks back at the judge, but she’s moved on. When Anthony stands and heads out of the courtroom, people turn their heads to watch him leave. He walks down the hall outside alone, mumbling to himself. He talks about the dash cam footage. He wonders if he needs to come back to court. He realizes he forgot to mention the van in front of him that did the same thing. He doesn’t know if he owes or what he owes or how to pay. He says he does know he did nothing wrong. He knows that he fought for justice. “And it felt good.”W This story was produced through a partnership between the INDY and 9th Street Journal, which is published by journalism students at Duke University’s DeWitt Wallace Center for Media & Democracy. INDYweek.com
October 20, 2021
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Chapel Hill UNC Hussman School of Media and Journalism PHOTO MIHALY I. LUKACS CC BY-SA 4.0
Hush-Hush Homecoming UNC-Chapel Hill journalism school mega-donor Walter Hussman, Jr. visited the campus last week. As the school seeks a new dean, and is dinged on diversity from an accrediting association, few were happy to see him. BY JOE KILLIAN firstname.lastname@example.org
hen Walter Hussman returned to UNC-Chapel Hill last week, he hoped to begin mending relations with the journalism school that bears his name. But that proved to be difficult, given the mega-donor’s lobbying against the hiring of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. The episode, which culminated in Hannah-Jones declining a tenure offer this summer in favor of Howard University, generated national headlines. It also sparked an ongoing debate about race, journalism, academic freedom and donor influence at the university. It strained the relationship between Hussman and the journalism school, prompting faculty and students to consider deeper questions about whether his values align with those of the school. This week, as the school begins its search for a new dean and faces evaluation by an accrediting association, Hussman continues to stir controversy. Hussman, a UNC alum and Arkansas-based media magnate, hoped to meet Friday with members of the journalism faculty. Steven King, an associate professor of emerging 10
October 20, 2021
technologies at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, was asked by Dean Susan King to try to put together a meeting at which Hussman could talk to faculty members about these issues. (Steven King and Susan King are not related.) On Monday, Steven King sent an email to his colleagues saying he didn’t believe that was possible. “For various reasons, I do not feel we are able to assemble a representative panel that could effectively communicate the diverse and passionate views of our Faculty for a meeting this Friday,” King wrote. One of those various reasons: A number of key faculty members invited to the meeting declined to attend. Others want to attend, but weren’t invited. “I have recommended that Dean King and Mr. Hussman postpone the discussion, and I suggested we take a different approach for Friday,” King wrote. “I am inviting Mr. Hussman and the school administration (Susan [King], Charlie [Tuggle], Heidi [Hennink-Kaminski], and Danita [Morgan]) to my Lab to work through a proper process that will facil-
itate fruitful discussion that hopefully builds a relationship between the Faculty and our named donor. We intend to leave the meeting with a roadmap for working through our differences that is agreeable to Faculty and Mr. Hussman.” Deb Aikat, an associate professor at the journalism school, is a member of the university’s Faculty Executive Committee. He has been outspoken about what he says was Hussman’s inappropriate interference in the hiring of Hannah-Jones, as well as Hussman’s desire to exert undue influence on the school’s direction as its named donor. That candor has made the academic environment uncomfortable for Aikat. He was one of several professors targeted by the university after Hussman’s donor agreement was leaked to the News & Observer in the wake of the Hannah-Jones controversy. Though Aikat and other professors didn’t have access to the document, university officials surreptitiously read their emails and questioned the professors about the contents. This intrusion led Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) to write letters in protest and spurred resentment among many of the journalism school’s faculty. The way the school is now handling what Aikat calls “the hush-hush Hussman homecoming” is just making the situation worse, he said. Aikat said he wanted to participate in the meeting “I emailed the dean to say I would like to attend. I got no reply.” It is clear Hussman and school and university administrators want to work through those differences. Hussman pledged $25 million to the school in 2019, which led to it being named for him. But he has yet to donate much of the money. Under the terms of his donor agreement, the school won’t receive about half of it until after Hussman and his wife die. It’s less clear whether most of the school’s faculty members, students and alumni would like to mend the relationship or, as an increasing number are now suggesting, they would prefer to sever ties with Hussman altogether.
Conflicting values The dean’s cabinet this week issued a survey to full-time journalism and media faculty members gauging what they might want from a meeting with Hussman. An analysis of the survey by Heidi Hennink-Kaminski, senior associate dean for graduate studies, found a mixed reaction. Some wanted a dialogue with Hussman while others said they didn’t see the point and thought it might be counter-productive. “In their responses, faculty identified what they would like to be able to share with the donor in the meeting,” Hennink-Kaminski wrote in her analysis. “Responses can be grouped into four areas: 1) information about the rigor of the tenure/hiring process at UNC; 2) new thinking about the future of journalism/ethics; 3) broader informa-
“We talk about diversity, we make a much vaunted spirit, but our school keeps ignoring true diversity and inclusion.” tion about the non-journalism areas of the school and the values reflected therein; and 4) the damage faculty believe has done to the School’s reputation.” An anonymized sampling of faculty responses reviewed by Policy Watch featured questions about how Hussman sees his relationship to, and role within the school. Those responses also asked whether Hussman understands that his interference in the Hannah-Jones hiring was inappropriate and harmful, and if he would commit to abstaining from future hiring decisions. Several faculty members said they wanted a public acknowledgment of wrongdoing and apology from Hussman, along with a statement from school leaders that such interference from donors won’t happen in the future. Most of those who took the survey said they would favor an optional, moderated meeting between full-time faculty members and Hussman with an optional invitation for staff leadership to attend. But faculty members who spoke with Policy Watch this week said they aren’t sure any meeting can be productive if it doesn’t address an overarching problem with Hussman. As part of his donor agreement, Hussman’s “core values” of journalism are now displayed on a wall in the lobby of the journalism school’s home at Carroll Hall. The agreement calls for them to be etched in stone. Though faculty were not consulted on these core values or how they would be displayed, Hussman has repeatedly asserted that the school has adopted those values as its own. In a July survey, an overwhelming majority of the faculty members rejected the notion that that Hussman’s values represented the school and said the school should establish its own values statement. Faculty members at the school—and journalism experts across the country—
take issue with portions of Hussman’s core values statement. Among them are the assertion that “impartiality is the greatest source of credibility” and that while the pursuit of truth is “a noble goal,” truth is “not always apparent or known immediately.” Historians and journalism scholars— including some of UNC’s most prominent journalism alumni—point out that those sentiments have been used throughout journalism history to preserve the societal status quo and minimize the voices of women and racial, ethnic, and religious minorities. In practice, faculty have argued, Hussman used his core values statement as a litmus test to argue against hiring Hannah-Jones, a prominent UNC alum and highly decorated investigative journalist. Hussman had objected to her opinion writing on racial issues, such as reparations for Black Americans and her Pulitzer Prize-winning work on The 1619 Project. Kate Sheppard, a teaching associate professor in the journalism school, has been working on a process for determining the school’s values. In an August meeting, the faculty proposed a plan for gathering feedback and a timeline for acting on it this spring. “I have no problem with Walter Hussman’s values statement as a statement of Walter Hussman’s values, what he prints in his newspapers, his words,” Sheppard said. “But there’s an ongoing conversation, there always is, about values. They shift. They evolve.”
Diversity and difficulty This week a team from the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications was on campus, meeting with students and faculty at the journalism school. Though the school was re-accredited, Dean Susan King shared in an email to faculty that the school is “out of compliance on the Diversity Standard.” Dean King said she was told the school would have “sailed through” had the accreditation taken place as scheduled this time last year. But since that time, concerns and controversy over the botched Hannah-Jones hire and Hussman’s influence have altered some perceptions of the school. “[T]he team found angry faculty and what was described as a culture of complaint,” the dean wrote. “They found faculty had deep worry about Walter Hussman and questioned gift agreement and donor relations. They found both students and faculty exhausted from the Nikole Hannah-Jones controversy…”
Durham County MAYO R Elaine O’Neal
WAR D I I Mark-Anthony Middleton
WAR D I DeDreana Freeman
WAR D I I I No endorsement
Orange County Chapel Hill Mayor and Town Council
Hillsborough Mayor and Board of Commissioners
MAYO R Pam Hemminger
MAYO R Jennifer (Jenn) Weaver
TOWN C O U N C I L ( FO U R S E AT S ) Camille Berry Paris Miller-Foushee Karen Stegman
B OAR D O F C O M M I S S I O N ER S ( T WO S E AT S ) Robb English Kathleen Ferguson
Carrboro Mayor and Town Council
C HAP EL H I L L - C AR R BORO CITY SCHOOLS B OAR D O F ED U C AT I O N ( T H R EE S E AT S ) George Griffin Riza Jenkins Mike Sharp
MAYO R Damon Seils TOWN C O U N C I L ( T H R EE S E AT S ) Barbara Foushee Danny Nowell
October 20, 2021
“According to the team’s analysis, reconciling the expectation of all faculty without damaging our culture is the challenge for us as a school,” King wrote. “They told me that the reason we failed Diversity was because of culture. They said they wanted to send a message to faculty that we often talk the talk and perhaps don’t walk the walk. They indicated some faculty don’t feel welcomed, and faculty and students of color feel burdened.” Students of color said “we know the words but not the deeds,” Dean King wrote. The accreditation team also called out the school’s lack of diversity among adjunct professors, King wrote, who teach the foundational courses in the school. The team suggested the school examine its curriculum and ensure diversity is at the heart of every course, King wrote. Dean King did not respond to emails from Policy Watch this week. Aikat said the accreditors’ assessment of the school’s diversity problem is not a surprise. “We talk about diversity, we make a much vaunted spirit, but our school keeps ignoring true diversity and inclusion,” Aikat said. “The people of color in our school, faculty and students, are feeling the strain. We have to shout four times for them to hear what we are saying, what we are all about.” The Friday meeting with Hussman and select faculty is a good example, Aikat said. Everyone Steven King identified as part of the meeting in his email is white, Aikat said. It was only once faculty members asked whether a member of the school’s Access, Belonging, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity (ABIDE) group should be part of the meeting that King asked for a representative from it. “That it doesn’t occur to someone that that is a problem, that is itself a problem,” Aikat said. The focus should not be on the “culture of complaint” in the school, Aikat said, but the substance of the complaints. Faculty and students of color are pointing out a deeper problem within the school that was put on a national stage when a wealthy, white conservative donor did battle over hiring a an eminently qualified and nationally renowned Black journalist at the school, Aikat said. And in the end, that donor got what he wanted. “I am concerned that he feels as though he has won and now he is returning to campus,” Aikat said. “And maybe he will meet with some faculty and some administrators and then he can go back to Arkansas and say, ‘Hey, I met with the faculty. Everything is fine.’” “Everything is not fine,” Aikat said. “We know that.” W This story originally published online at N.C. Policy Watch. 12
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Durham Photo from a vigil for Tyvien McLean, a Durham 12-year-old who died from a gunshot wound. PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
Violence, Interrupted This violent gun season in the Bull City continues. Now, Durham’s elected leaders hope young people with a history of involvement will help the city recover from an ongoing, often deadly epidemic. BY THOMASI MCDONALD email@example.com
ne year ago, on October 22, former gang member David Johnson told Durham City Council members that he was a victim of violence, that he had encouraged others to acts of violence, and that he had committed violence in the past. Today, Johnson supervises Durham’s Cure Violence program that’s known as Bull City United (BCU). The county-funded team of “violence interrupters’’ and outreach workers are trained to resolve outbreaks of violence on the streets before they happen. BCU started working in gun-plagued neighborhoods in 2016 with the goal of approaching violence as a public health issue not unlike cholera or influenza outbreaks. Johnson thinks the key to changing high-risk individuals’ behavior is having someone who will believe in them, who believes they can change and helps them to realize that a life of crime is not the only life.
“A lot of people don’t know that. I didn’t know that,” he told city council members last year. “This program has changed my life completely. It saved my life. It saved my kid’s life. I had spent my life in prison since I was 16. I started [with BCU] as a guy recruiting others. Now, I’m a supervisor, trying to get others like me.” According to a Durham City-County interlocal agreement to expand BCU to four gunfire-prone neighborhoods, the local initiative is modeled after “CeaseFire,” an anti-violence program that was originally developed in 2000 and implemented in Chicago neighborhoods where there were high incidents of shootings and gun murders. The CeaseFire model relies on data-driven strategies normally associated with disease control by detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms in the communities where they live.
“After continued investment over the decade, along with focused strategies, the program evaluators noted a decline in neighborhoods...where the Cease-Fire [sic] model was implemented,” according to Durham’s interlocal agreement. Durham’s model will celebrate its fifth anniversary next month. BCU views gun violence through the lens of public health: a deadly epidemic with clusters breaking out in at-risk neighborhoods capable of spreading to other vulnerable communities. Johnson leads a team of six who have been working in the city’s most violent communities to change the mindsets of young people who are at high risk of committing violence by mediating conflicts before the incidents escalate. The initiative also offers a battery of services—from mental health to substantive employment initiatives to cure the gun violence epidemic. Last year, BCU reported that between March 1 and September 12 of 2020, 556 shootings were reported throughout the city. Only 63 occurred in BCU’s target areas: McDougald Terrace, which in 2015 was deemed the most violent neighborhood in the city, and Southside, the city’s second-most violent neighborhood. “Give me a hundred people, and I can change the violence trends in Durham,” Johnson told the city council during last year’s October 22 work session. In January, City Council members reviewed the overall decline in gun violence in McDougald Terrace and Southside and then voted to give the county up to $935,488 to hire 18 more people and expand the Cure Violence model to four other areas in the city that are also perennially bedevilled by gunplay. The new target areas of treatment are Cornwallis Road, a section of Southside that was not part of BCU’s target area, Oxford Manor, along with Liberty and Elm Streets. Durham City Council member Mark-Anthony Middleton this week told the INDY that he has called for and championed the expansion of the BCU initiative as a non-policing element of a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to addressing Durham’s scourge of gun violence. “Their work is challenging and potnetially dangerous and isn’t for everyone,” Middleton said. “While it is customary to measure the efficacy of tax-funded initiatives with metrics and outcomes, a unique element of [BCU’s] mission is to intercept and eliminate incidents before they happen. I call it the work of headline prevention” Durham Mayor Steve Schewel told the INDY that he recently walked through McDougald Terrace with BCU staffers who are working in the neighborhood and with several of the new people who have been hired to work in other communities. “I got a chance to talk to them for quite a while and to hear ambitions for their work,” the mayor said. “I INDYweek.com
October 20, 2021
continue to think that this is a really important strategy to break the cycle of violence that we’re seeing in Durham right now.” On October 30, city and county leaders will receive their first quarterly report from BCU to determine if the former gang members trained and deployed to stop gun violence in the neighborhoods where they live have been effective at persuading their neighbors to stop shooting one another in some of the city’s most impoverished communities. While talking with the INDY this week, Wendy Jacobs, co-chair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, offered a couple of caveats about the upcoming report. The county has not yet filled all 18 positions, and that “this is challenging work that takes special skills” with “people [who] need to be trusted community members from the neighborhoods where they are working.” Jacobs noted that the new hires will undergo extensive training and said she believes in the evidence-based model of resolving conflicts and connecting people to the resources they need—be it help with mental health and substance abuse, or finding good jobs. “These approaches are not quick fixes,” Jacobs added. “This is about investing in relationships and the people in our community trying to address the root causes of gun violence and treating it as a public health issue rather than a law enforcement issue.” At first glance, BCU’s “violence interrupters” don’t appear to have many success stories to share about stopping gun violence. Following shootings last month that killed three people, including two 20-yearolds on N.C. Central University’s campus, Durham police reported 32 homicides for the year. Last year, there were 22 during the same time period, and 26 in 2019.
October 20, 2021
Likewise, there have been reports of 579 shootings this year. Last year there were 688, and 493 in 2019. Gun violence in the city has probably been exacerbated by an increase in firearm thefts, particularly from vehicle break-ins, police reported last month. Investigators say there were 261 firearms reported stolen to the police department between January 1 and August 31, a four percent increase during the same period last year when 258 guns were stolen, and up 15 percent from the 233 guns stolen in 2019. More than 50 percent of the weapons were taken from vehicles and the majority of the vehicles were unlocked and parked in residential neighborhoods. But last month, Durham police spokeswoman Kammie Michael told the INDY that gun violence this year has been on a downward trajectory. Shooting incidents in the city have decreased by 16 percent, while the number of people shot has gone down by 12 percent when compared to the same time period last year. Last year, on November 12, Schewel and former police chief Cerelyn Davis hosted a press conference to address the rising tide of gun violence after a drive-by shooting killed a 15-year-old boy, Anthony Adams, on East Main Street. Davis noted the emergence of another troubling trend: the majority of the city’s gun offenders are juveniles. Johnson, the BCU supervisor, pointed to why younger people are becoming involved with deadly gunplay. “They are not in school [because of] this pandemic,” he explained. “Fourteen and 15-year-olds, they’re not in school. Their parents are working, so they are not going to school at all. They are out here on the street.” Supervision and guidance of BCU falls under the purview of Joanne Pierce, Durham County’s general manager of health and
well-being. During last year’s City Council work session and before their vote in January, Pierce sounded a cautionary note, telling the elected leaders to pay attention to the systemic issues at the at the root of the gun violence, including racism and divestment in Black neighborhoods. “[BCU] intervention cannot solve a crisis generations in the making,” Pierce said. “This is not about the moral failings of individuals. It’s about the moral failings of institutions that have allowed these issues to fester.” In his call for collaborating with the county to fund BCU, Middleton said the city is facing an “optical challenge” in the eyes of Durham residents who are wondering why their elected leaders are not responding to gun violence with a greater sense of urgency. “There is nothing more important that a government can do than protecting its people,” Middleton said during a city council work session days before the January vote. “Gunfire is going to go off in this city tonight, whether anyone is hit or not,” he said the night before council members voted 6-1 to expand the program model. The BCU presentation to city council members pointed to studies that indicate “serious or fatal emergency room visits are typically the second visit from the same [gunshot] victim,” and that up to 45 percent of patients treated for violent injuries will be injured again or die of fatal injuries within five years. Between January and June of 2019, there were 60 participants being treated by the BCU model. Many of the participants had multiple risk factors, including gang involvement, a prior criminal history, street activity associated with violence, and they carried a firearm. The at-risk individuals’ participation in the BCU model resulted in 91 percent finding employment, while 79 percent
showed “gun-related behavior change.” The program also reported that 87 percent of the conflicts that were either personal altercations or gang-involved were “successfully resolved.” But for a great many residents, BCU’s previous success, however admirable, is not enough. For the past several years stopping the scourge of deadly gun violence has been a top, albeit failing priority for Durham’s elected officials, activists, and faith-based leaders alike. It’s the Damocles sword that hangs over conversations about defunding the police and calls for more police on the streets. Indeed, with the continuing deaths of so many African American men and boys, by other Black men and boys, it’s a challenge to define a low point in the blood bath. It should have been in 2019, when nineyear-old Z’yon Person was killed in a driveby shooting on August 18, while riding in the back seat of his aunt’s Ford Escape with other children for a late night treat of snow cones. It could have been last year in July when 10 people, including three children, were shot in a single night. One of those children, 12-year-old Tyvien “Ty” McLean, died from a gunshot wound to the head. “They’re very, very reachable,” Jonson told council member Middleton, who asked if BCU’s team can get to younger gang members who “have no code” and are led by so-called “original gangsters” who are as young as 19. “With the right people, everybody is reachable,” Johnson added. “I would recruit the highest ranking guy in Cornwallis [Road apartments] that’s trying to get out [of] the life and he’s going to take care of the little kids he knows. I know the head Crip in Braggtown. I know the head Blood in Cornwallis. I know the head Crip in Cornwallis. You got Bloods and Crips in Cornwallis. I can reach them with the right staff.” W
THIS IS THE FIRST OF A TWO-PART SERIES ON HOUSING IN THE TRIANGLE.
n a quiet street near downtown Raleigh, the percussive crack of a hammer on nail rises over the oak trees—on New Bern Avenue, construction workers are erecting a dozen new townhomes. Less than a mile away, from the steps of his lifelong home, 64-year-old Isaac White, Sr. can hear them remaking his neighborhood. “I never thought I would see half-a-million-dollar houses (for sale) in this neighborhood,” White tells the INDY. “They’re telling me now my house is worth six or seven hundred thousand dollars. That’s nothing to me because I don’t plan on selling my house, but they’re taxing me on it.” White, who lives in the historically Black community of Battery Heights, is one of the only original homeowners left on his block, he says. Gentrification has forced out many of his neighbors, who were unable to afford increased property taxes. His story is a familiar one. In recent years, Raleigh’s already hot housing market has turned supernova, sending home values into the stratosphere and creating intense bidding wars. As more people flock to the Triangle, builders can’t keep up with the need for affordable homes, says Samuel Gunter, executive director of N.C. Housing Coalition. Raleigh was already short a few thousand houses when the coronavirus pandemic hit, raising the cost of construction and decreasing the supply even more. At the same time, Apple announced its new East Coast headquarters would be located in the Triangle, boosting demand. “It’s the perfect storm,” says realtor Cecelia Zubek. “I’ve seen, personally, a lot of people coming from California as well as from up north. Not all of that is because they want to live here, a lot of people are buying through LLCs, as investors. Ten percent of purchases in the Raleigh area have been for investment, which is a big chunk.”
A TIRED TALE OF GENTRIFICATION
The Triangle’s housing crisis has escalated since the onset of the pandemic. Local officials are doing what they say they can, but experts say they could commit to doing more. BY JASMINE GALLUP firstname.lastname@example.org
In the first three months of 2021, about 2,400 homes were sold in Raleigh and Durham. Of those, more than half were bought either by people from out of state or companies “preying on this market to make a profit,” states a report from the Triangle Business Journal. Many are wealthy investors who buy houses and flip them for cash. The rising price of home sales has increased the assessed value of neighboring homes, which in turn increases the property taxes for homeowners such as White. “That’s the issue so many seniors are facing,” he says. “You get older, you get on a fixed income and then all of a sudden your taxes have doubled, some of them tripled. I shouldn’t be burdened because you decided this is a good place to live. I know it’s a good place to live, all my life, that’s why I’ve been living here.” To White, the solution is simple—stop raising property taxes. Wake County already offers some help to homeowners, Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin says. She points to programs that give people tax relief based on age and income, such as the homestead exemption, which allows some low-income elderly residents to pay taxes on only about half their home’s value. INDYweek.com
October 20, 2021
Isaac White Sr.
PHOTO BY BRETT VILLENA
Not everyone in need qualifies for these programs, however. White, for example, just misses the age cutoff. Young and middle-aged homeowners who make below-average wages are also out of luck. One solution may be to offer more widespread help to homeowners affected by gentrification. Durham started a program earlier this month that gives longtime, low-income homeowners up to $750 to help pay their annual tax bill, regardless of age. Similar programs in Orange and Mecklenburg counties offer grants to people who have lived in the area for many years. Baldwin says the city is considering a proposal from ONE Wake, a nonprofit affordable housing advocate. The program would offer tax relief to people who have owned their homes for at least 10 years, earn less than 80 percent area median income, and who are currently paying more than 2 percent of their income toward property tax, say ONE Wake officials. The nonprofit is interested in developing a program with the city and county that could go on for decades, with financial assistance scaling up to match future property tax increases. If enacted, such a program would be the biggest in North Carolina, similar to one in Atlanta that covers all increases in property tax for certain homeowners through 2030.
NO HELP FOR RENTERS As homeowners lobby for lower property taxes, some strained voices are also rising to help renters. Jamie Paulen, an evic16
October 20, 2021
tion attorney based in Hillsborough, is one of the few people currently advocating for changes to the landlord-tenant law. She’s asking the state legislature to lift the ban on rent control, allowing local governments to put big management companies in check. “In California, one of the ways tenants are able to live is that there’s only so much your rent can go up every year,” Paulen says. “In North Carolina, they’ve taken that away.” Without rent control, low-priced apartments are disappearing, leaving many with no place to live. Landlords either raise the rent or renovate and sell their buildings to companies that seek wealthier tenants. In Wake County, 59 percent of apartments priced below $750 a month have been lost since 2010. In today’s dollars, that’s $940 per month, accounting for inflation. Forty percent of apartments priced below $1,000 a month—or this year, $1,250—have also vanished, according to county officials. For tenants looking to stay in their apartments, rent control is the obvious answer. Another solution may be giving renters the first right to purchase the building they live in when it goes up for sale. Such policies can help residents retain control of a community, rather than large-scale investors. In Washington, D.C., tenants have the opportunity to buy their buildings and turn them into co-ops with the help of a low-interest loan program. The North Carolina legislature, however, is not on board with such progressive housing laws, and neither are local leaders. Baldwin says Raleigh officials aren’t lobbying for those policies. Instead, they’re asking the
state to redevelop their underused property like the former Rex Hospital. She and other city council members are focused on building more mixed-income housing. Large advocacy organizations, too, have held off lobbying the state legislature for rent control. Some are waiting for state leaders more willing to lift the rent control ban, Gunter explains. They were expecting different results from the 2020 election when Republicans held onto their majorities in the General Assembly. “A large part of it is the political climate we’re in and folks focusing on what they can do,” Gunter says. “It feels out of reach as a win.” Today, the N.C. Housing Coalition is throwing its support behind a shorter-term solution, the renter’s tax credit. The policy, similar to existing tax credits for homeowners, would allow certain low-income renters to deduct money from the taxes they pay each year, Gunter says. North Carolina is one of the 28 states that does not offer a renter’s tax credit, but there are two nationwide proposals currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate.
TRUST THE COMMUNITY TO PRESERVE AFFORDABLE HOUSING Keeping people in their homes isn’t just a matter of offering them financial help. With property taxes rising so quickly, a onetime payment isn’t enough to keep people housed, says Sonia Barnes, a Southeast Raleigh resident advocating on behalf of her community. Officials also have to prevent affordable homes and apartments from being destroyed, upfitted, or redeveloped as market-rate housing. One way to prevent the loss of affordable housing is for local governments to buy property directly before it's sold to investors seeking a profit, says Gunter. In Durham, city officials are awarding federal money to the Durham Community Land Trust to buy homes and convert them into permanently affordable housing. After the community land trust buys property, the nonprofit owns the land beneath the house and leases it back to the homeowner for a nominal monthly fee. By removing the cost of land, the trust can sell homes to people at up to 30 percent below market rate, putting them within the reach of cashiers or waiters. The strategy, which has worked in Seattle and Minnesota, is a way to create housing that remains affordable for decades, if not longer. That long-term affordability creates housing stability, which is key in prevent-
ing gentrification, says Sidney Betancourt, a housing advocacy organizer with the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In San Francisco, a “right-to-purchase” policy has bolstered the efforts of nonprofits to preserve affordable housing. The law gives nonprofits first dibs on property up for sale. The policy came in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis when swathes of foreclosed homes were bought up by investment groups and turned into high-end rentals. A similar policy could be a powerful tool in North Carolina for the preservation of affordable housing, says Gunter.
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NEXT STEPS In the past 30 years, the Durham Community Land Trust has helped convert 280 homes into permanent affordable housing. But in order to truly make an impact, cities need to scale up these initiatives to cover thousands of homes, says Gunter. Similarly, Raleigh’s narrow tax programs need to expand in order to make a dent in gentrification. Such widespread projects require tens of millions of dollars. Wake County may have taken the first big step earlier this month when commissioners created a $10.5 million fund to preserve affordable housing. The money will let the county buy properties before they’re lost to the for-profit market, according to a news release. Wake County commissioners plan to grow the fund to $61.2 million with additional money from city and town councils, companies, and nonprofits. The Raleigh city council will soon vote on whether to commit $4 million. For Gunter, it’s ultimately a matter of whether local officials are willing to commit the amount of money needed to truly make a dent in the affordable housing crisis, he says. Raleigh and other local governments are getting a big chunk of federal money this year, but how will they spend it? So far, the city has allocated $10 million toward affordable housing from the American Rescue Plan Act. Another $44 million is on the table and looks to be divided between housing, economic recovery, community health, and infrastructure. When it comes to affordable housing needs, however, the list is lengthy. In addition to new programs, the city has a backlog of repair needs to public housing going back decades, Gunter says. “To the credit of the Durham city council, the Raleigh city council, they have acted,” he says. “But all of this is a question of political will. What are you gonna choose to tackle and tackle in scale? If this is it, there’s more you could be doing.” W
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October 20, 2021
M U SIC Anjimile in their studio PHOTO BRETT VILLENA
Hold Steady On the heels of a powerful debut album, the musician Anjimile moved to Durham, canceled their first tour, signed with 4AD, and began work on new music. They’re rolling with the punches. BY SHELBI POLK email@example.com
hen Anjimile’s first official tour was canceled, they turned to some of their go-to self-care practices: a bubble bath, some Pink Floyd, and John Wick 1 through 3. “I was comforted by the stoic presence of Keanu Reeves,” says Anjimile Chithambo, who plays music as Anjimile. “He really helped me put things in perspective.” The 28-year-old musician has had a big, well, a big pandemic. They put out their first label-supported record, were laid off from their day job in Boston, realized they could make music a full-time career, moved to Durham with their partner, and planned their first tour, all while navigating the same COVID-19 restrictions as the rest of us. Their debut album, Giver Taker, came out in late 2020 to glowing reviews in outlets like Pitchfork and The Guardian. 18
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Anjimile’s music is often compared to that of Sufjan Stevens. The soft sounds and Biblical and literary allusions make the comparison apt. But their songs are almost always hopeful or declarative in a way that comforts, even when they’re singing about everything breaking down. Come for Anjimile’s soothing, precise voice; stay for the stories of perseverance. The musician didn’t get the in-person parties or release shows that would normally accompany an album release, but Anjimile said the pandemic actually took off some of the pressure they might otherwise have put on themselves. “I was like, no offense to my record, but like in the scope of this pandemic here...Nobody really fucking cares,” Anjimile says, speaking from a picnic table in Durham
Central Park. “We’ve all got bigger things to worry about, and so did I.” We may have all had bigger things to worry about last year, but Giver Taker covers some of Anjimile’s biggest worries of the past several years. Alcoholism, rehab, transitioning, and religious deconstruction (Anjimile was raised Presbyterian) all make appearances on the album, in one way or another, and Anjimile says they like getting to share such intimate experiences with listeners. “When I first started writing, and I guess still now, it’s mostly just as a way to express my feelings and process stuff,” they say. “And the fact that other people want to listen to it is pretty flattering.” None of these subjects are difficult for Anjimile to share or return to, in part, because they’re not fully in the past. “I’m no longer an active alcoholic, but I’m still you know, a recovering alcoholic, and my history of alcoholism is pertinent to my everyday recovery,” Anjimile says. “It just seems like a lot of things in my past are also my present. Like I was a trans person before I realized that I was a trans person, so that’s still the most relevant. And same about my relationship to my spirituality.” Despite covering such heavy subjects, Anjimile’s album is a peaceful listen, and they were a calming presence throughout our conversations. Giver Taker came from a place of recovery and growth and sounds like it. Anjimile wasn’t actually trying to write an album when they made most of the songs on Giver Taker. At the time, they were staying in a halfway house just trying to stay sober. The album is full of their confidence that things will work out—a credo they make a conscious decision to live by. “I think it’s something that it’s kind of easy for me to believe because when I was in the throes of alcoholism, I came close to dying a number of ways,” Anjimile says. “Being alive and sober still feels like a plot twist to me.” Anjimile is glad their music is connecting with people, but being a Black trans, nonbinary artist in the indie space can still be isolating. Their first label, Father Daughter, and several other Black artists in the singer-songwriter genre have made indie music feel more welcoming, though. One of the employees of Father Daughter is a Black nonbinary person, and Anjimile was heartened by that connection when they signed. “I didn’t even know that Black queer people worked at indie labels,” Anjimile said. “That’s amazing. So yeah, I would describe it as challenging. I was trying to link up with as many Black artists as possible.” In some ways, Anjimile says, the pandemic has even made that easier, as we all turned to social media last year to find connection. They even met their current manager
on Instagram, which was a big part of their move to Durham in January 2021. Durham was a relatively easy move. Anjimile’s management, The Glow (who also represent Sylvan Esso, Mountain Man, and Flock of Dimes, among other artists), is local, and they and their partner had some friends in the area already. They were excited to settle in a smaller, less expensive city, get out of the hectic bigger city, and—eventually—explore the town. “I was hoping to go to venues and like, I don’t know, hang out with humans,” Anjimile says. “But that’s not as possible right now. We’ll get there.” When they announced the tour this summer, Anjimile was feeling encouraged by climbing vaccination rates and dropping infection numbers. During our first conversation, in the humid shade of the park, Anjimile said they were excited for the two-week run down the East Coast, but they were already careful to say the shows might not go on. And then came the Delta variant. “I feel like Delta kind of threw all of us for a loop,” they said in a more recent phone call. “It’s thrown me personally for a loop.” Looking at a tour schedule filled with small, intimate venues, Anjimile decided they weren’t willing to take the risk. “It was a soul-searching moment, having to reckon with what I feel like is a safe decision with also just a pervasive feeling of failure.” After only getting to join their band for one big outdoor set at the Tree Fork Festival in Idaho, Anjimile called it. But despite that disappointment, 2021 is also shaping up to be a big year. On October 19, Anjimile announced that they’ve signed with 4AD, a record label that has made albums with indie legends like The National, Tune-Yards, Bon Iver, St. Vincent, and the Mountain Goats. Although Anjimile loved working with Father Daughter with their “whole heart,” they’re really excited about the potential of working with a record label as established as 4AD. Already, the label is planning to fly Anjimile and their “co-conspirators” out to L.A. next month to begin the next album, which Anjimile says is a lot darker than Giver Taker. When I point out that Giver Taker was not exactly light, Anjimile laughs. “I think it has a lot to do with the fact that it was written during a pandemic and there’s been a lot of dread in the air,” they say. “I’m still personally attempting to reconcile that with hope for the future. I feel like I’m asking a lot of questions.” W
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October 20, 2021
THE HOUSE OF GEORGE
NC Central University, Durham | Thursday, Oct. 21–Sunday, Oct. 24 | tinyurl.com/rtd2ytjm
Man of Letters For a revival of his first play, Howard Craft looks back at his beginnings as a playwright at NCCU BY BYRON WOODS firstname.lastname@example.org
f Howard Craft’s car had been in better shape, he might never have made it to the Kennedy Center. Or off-Broadway. The New York Times might never have praised his “rich and thoughtful” drama Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green, as a play “with a sardonic humor that recalls The Colored Museum and Hollywood Shuffle.” Why? He might never have become a playwright. The award-winning playwright reflects on the automotive dilemma that changed not only his artistic trajectory and life, but the history of regional theater, this week, as his alma mater NC Central University revives his first play, The House of George, as the opening production in its current mainstage season. In 2001, Craft was an undergrad poet and fiction writer at Central, trying to get a job at the Triangle Tribune. Though the newspaper didn’t take to his pitch for a column where fictional characters took on real-life local issues each week in a make-believe barbershop, they hired him as an editorial writer. While sitting in Francesca’s, that legendary Ninth Street purveyor of gelato, Craft heard a PSA on the radio about a new play competition at NCCU. The winner would get $250. “I needed my car fixed,” Craft remembers. “I’d never written a play before, but I thought maybe I could turn that barbershop thing into something.” He walked down to the Regulator Bookshop. “I probably had seen maybe two plays in my life, and they were assigned in college,” he says. “The only playwright I know of is August Wilson, so I buy four or five of his plays, read them—and then I wrote The House of George.” 20
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“When it won, I was shocked,” Crafts says. “When they took it to the Kennedy Center, I was even more shocked.” He used the money to get his car fixed. Central premiered the undergraduate’s first play as a mainstage production in October 2002 and presented it at the American College Theatre Festival. Its arrival got local notice, too: a glowing review, by this reporter, in the INDY, and a subsequent nod for best original play in our end-of-year regional theater wrap-up. The sudden success forced his hand. “I was looking at my desk. I’ve got a stack of rejections from short stories over there, and a $250 check over here—so I guess I’m going to be a playwright now,” he says. “From that, I went on to write The Wise Ones,” he says. “I got one of the state’s playwriting fellowships from that, and then I did eight plays on health disparities for Central.” PlayMakers Repertory Company, Manbites Dog Theater, Streetsigns Center, and WUNC-FM have produced Craft’s subsequent plays. Then there were those two engagements of Freight, off and off-off Broadway, one of which got press as a critic’s pick in the New York Times. Longtime artistic collaborator J. Alphonse Nicholson, who originated the role of Abel Green in Chapel Hill before performing it in both New York productions, is now shopping Craft’s screenplay for the drama in Los Angeles. In a field where development and production opportunities are rare, Craft is an anomaly: Every script he’s written thus far has been produced. Just last month, he shared the stage with another phenomenal local playwright, Mike Wiley, in Theatre Raleigh’s production of their co-authored drama, Peace of Clay. Craft’s work tends to touch on present and historical issues among a particularly
The playwright Howard Craft
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE ARTIST
under-served group: Black communities in mid-sized Southern cities. “Either you get the rural South, or New York, Chicago or L.A,” Craft says, of the typical focus in Black playwrighting. “But what about towns like Durham, Fayetteville, or Roanoke? We don’t get a lot of those stories.” He began that exploration in that very first play, The House of George. “He was inspired by robberies that were happening to barbershops on Fayetteville St. in the 1990s,” says Stephanie Asabi M. Howard, chair of NCCU’s Department of Theatre. “Although it was his first work, I thought it was a great work.” George, the central character, has a lot of rough edges: a dissatisfied, divorced, ex-military barber with a long list of grievances and no inclination to filter any of them. “In this space, he can take control, be key, and his word can be taken seriously,” Craft says. “That’s not necessarily the case for things outside his barbershop.” The playwright based George, he says, on “more than a few older Black men in the Vietnam era and before.” Craft’s father grew up in Durham before urban renewal and the Durham Freeway blighted the Hayti community in the 1970s. “My idea was, what was it like for someone to start a business then, and
to see the neighborhood and community changed?” “George is angry, and he can be toxic in his own way, but he’s also got a lot of love in him,” Craft continues. “Everybody’s love language is different, and George’s is very coarse, very put-down, but it’s still his.” But that approach could alienate a younger generation, including Darryl, a barber in his 20s. “The older generation looked at us [in Generation X] like we look at millennials now,” Craft says. “I get that. So I explore it in all these characters. Every generation had the belief that it was going to be better for the generation that comes after. But George doesn’t feel that way. There’s a tension in what the older see in the younger, and what they hope for, what they believe.” Stephanie Asabi M. Howard notes that the barbershop “is like the church in the Black community. You go to get knowledge and inspiration and to share your thoughts and grievances. It becomes a wonderful place for a meeting of the minds.” “They say write what you know,” Craft says. “I’ve been going to the barbershop since I was two years old. I grew up with those characters.” Craft pauses to reflect on this week’s homecoming. “I feel like Tom Brady going back to Foxboro,” he smiles. “It’s a comfortable feeling.” W
SC R E E N
HOME IS DISTANT SHORES FILM FESTIVAL
Friday, Oct. 15-Sunday, Oct. 24 | homeisdistantshores.com
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THIS MONTH’S ANSWERS ARE PROVIDED BY
Staff Members of Raleigh’s Quail Ridge Books Every week a local book guru answers reader’s questions. Please submit your questions at email@example.com
For the reader who wants a spooky October read:
A still from the feature film Route 4, which screens at the festival
PHOTO COURTESY OF HOME IS DISTANT SHORES FESTIVAL
Home Screen A ten-day Cary film festival brings stories of immigrants and refugees to the big screen BY ALLEN SIEGLER firstname.lastname@example.org
achi Dely has a message for the nearly 130,000 Afghan evacuees now resettling around the world: “Even though in the moment things are bad, it gets better. It always gets better.” Those are the opening words of Letter from a Refugee, a 2.5-minute film released September 8. The Morrisville independent film company VerveFilms produced the video to promote the third annual Home Is Distant Shores Film Festival, a 10 day-long celebration of refugee and immigrant-focused movies that runs this week. Dely, a Greensboro-based actor and artist, narrates this over clips of her interacting with greenery around her art studio. She focuses on what she learned as a refugee from the Highlands of South Vietnam, and how it relates to the plight of new Afghan evacuees. “When you make it to whatever country they send you to, there’s hope now because
you’re in a safer place,” Dely says. “But there’s still fear, there’s still adjusting to the culture, still the feeling of starting over.” The short video debuted amidst the beginning stages of mass global efforts to resettle displaced Afghan citizens, after the U.S. military withdrew its troops from the region. While Aby Rao, the video’s producer and one of the festival’s co-founders, was filming it in mid-August, national news cycles filled most of their time with chaotic images of people grasping at airplanes taking off from the Kabul airport. Given the timing, Rao felt compelled to ask Dely about her early resettlement experiences. “I don’t think she’s trying to paint a rosy picture of life in the United States or any country outside their home,” said Rao, who in 2002 immigrated to the U.S. to attend graduate school. “To me it’s about
leading your own life and being unique and honest with oneself.” The Vimeo-released film is a longer version of a similar video that VerveFilms will use as the Home Is Distant Shores’ opening reel. The opener will welcome audience members to the event and introduce themes that are featured in the other 19 films. Because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the festival’s organizers changed the format from an in-person gathering in Cary to a virtual setting. However, those involved with the event’s production are confident that the celebration will still captivate its audience. “It’s an amazing lineup that we’ve been able to get,” says Emily Prins, the festival’s programming director. “It feels like every single year there’s one or two that make me say “Oh wow, I can’t believe we got these.” And we have those again this year.” Rao does not expect the end of the film festival to mark the end of Letters viewership. In a few months, as the Afghan evacuees and new refugees from other countries stabilize in their resettled homes, he wants to share the video with those who can connect to Dely’s story. “My hope is to take the short film all over the country and abroad where they might be and give them an opportunity to see it and enjoy some of the thoughts Sachi had,” Rao says. “It’s a slow and a long process which I’m really hopeful about.W
Mexican Gothic ticks many of the boxes for a captivating gothic horror story while also highlighting the scars—literal and figurative—left behind by colonialism. Noemí Taboada, a lively young socialite from Mexico City, receives a disturbing letter from her cousin; Catalina claims that her life is in danger and pleads for rescue. Noemí travels to the countryside to visit Catalina in her new husband’s ancestral home, the remains of a onceprosperous English silver mine. Things at High Place are not what they seem, and Noemí finds herself enmeshed in a tangled web of terror and violence. Can there be a realistic explanation, or is it possible that the house is truly haunted? Fans of the Brontës, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Yellow Wallpaper are sure to find enjoyment in this. —Kaley
For the reader who wants an edge-of-your-seat thriller: Paula Hawkins is a master of domestic suspense. A Slow Fire Burning has so many layers that I’m still processing it weeks after putting it down and I just want everyone to read it so we can talk about it! This book will keep you on your toes, make you think you’ve figured out the mystery, then not only have you not figured out that mystery but there’s another mystery within that mystery? It’s bonkers and I loved every second of it. If you want a wild ride that will make your head spin, this is the book for you!—Tee
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October 20, 2021
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There is really only one rule to Sudoku: Fill in the game board so that the numbers 1 through 9 occur exactly once in each row, column, and 3x3 box. The numbers can appear in any order and diagonals are not considered. Your initial game board will consist of several numbers that are already placed. Those numbers cannot be changed. Your goal is to fill in the empty squares following the simple rule above.
If you just can’t wait, check out the current week’s answer key at www.indyweek.com, and click “puzzle pages.” Best of luck, and have fun! www.sudoku.com solution to last week’s puzzle
October 20, 2021
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C L AS S I F I E D S NOTICES
RESOLUTION TO ADOPT TIME FOR COUNTING OF ABSENTEE BALLOTS NOVEMBER 2, 2021 ELECTION On September 7, 2021, the Durham County Board of Elections met in Durham, North Carolina, at its office and adopted the following resolution: WHEREAS the county board of elections is authorized upon adoption of a resolution to begin counting of absentee ballots between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on Election Day; WHEREAS such resolution also may provide for an additional meeting following the day of the election and prior to the day of canvass to count absentee ballots received pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. §163-231(b)(1) or (2); WHEREAS the times for these meetings will be at 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 2nd and at 9:00 a.m. on Monday, November 8th for the purpose of counting absentee ballots; WHEREAS the location of these meetings shall be held at the Durham Board of Elections Warehouse, located at 2445 S. Alston Avenue, Durham, NC 27713; WHEREAS the board shall not announce the results of the count before 7:30 p.m. on Election Day; WHEREAS these meetings are open to all who may want to attend; and, WHEREAS the adoption of this resolution is in compliance with North Carolina General Statutes §§ 163-234(2) and (11) and will be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county within the statutory time frame. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Durham County Board of Elections hereby unanimously approves the time for Counting of Absentee Ballots as set forth above. This the 7th day of September 2021. Dawn Y. Baxton., Chairman PAID FOR BY DURHAM COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS
CRIT TERS Looking for a loving cat companion? Goathouse Refuge, a no-kill cat rescue in Pittsboro, NC, has many cats and kittens in need of loving homes. We also care for “unadoptable” cats, giving them attention and comfort they deserve. Please support our mission by adopting, sponsoring, volunteering or donating today: goathouserefuge.org.
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
Ronald Jones I travel through the triangle area during the week. I am ONLY SEEKING friends to meet for dinner and drinks. I am not looking for long term as I am an older divorced guy seeking friends. If this interests you and want to experience different restaurants write me at my email firstname.lastname@example.org.
HEALTH & WELL BEING
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October 20, 2021