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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill November 4, 2020

THIS DUST WON’T SETTLE Regardless of how the votes shake out, the polarization of the last four years isn’t going away. We have to keep fighting. BY PAUL BLEST, P. 12


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Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 37 NO. 41

A Chapel Hill ghost town, p. 10 PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

CONTENTS NEWS 9

Can tiny houses fix Durham's affordable housing crisis? BY ANN GEHAN

10 What is Chapel Hill without its college students? BY SERGIO OSNAYA-PRIETO

FEATURE 12

The lay of the land the day after Election Day.

BY PAUL BLEST

ARTS & CULTURE 14

Three formerly incarcerated women show off their improvisational culinary chops. BY THOMASI MCDONALD

16 Rapsody shines in the academy and the BET Awards. BY KYESHA JENNINGS 17 18

A balloon stars in a Raleigh Little Theatre production.

BY BYRON WOODS

Tziarra King's astonishing rookie season as a professional soccer player. BY BRENNAN DOHERTY

19 A new book about the state's fraught history with race and voting. BY SARAH EDWARDS

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BAC K TA L K

On Saturday, cops in Graham pepper-sprayed a group of voters participating in a march to the polls event. Officers in riot gear tackled some of the voters to the ground and at least one journalist was arrested during the scuffle. The incident made headlines nationally. At home, readers said this: “Not surprising,” wrote Facebook user MARY MARGARET BURCH. “My parents moved me there in high-school and it was a wake-up call to everything that is wrong in America. Bullies, racists, sexists... against everything that doesn’t jive with their collective beliefs. Fuck Alamance County.” “Burlington itself has gotten noticeably more progressive, especially with the influence of ever-expanding Elon University, but as for the rest of the county, much different story,” replied MARK ELLIS. “Boycott Alamance,” wrote MEG O MILLER. “If you live there drive elsewhere to spend $$$... groceries, gas.... over the county line. Police are out of control.” “Whoever the Democratic candidate for Sheriff is in 2022, I’m supporting them with canvassing and a donation,” responded JAMES GHEEN. Sara Pequeño wrote last week about José Chicas, who has been in sanctuary from immigration officials at a Durham church since 2017. Durhamite ANDREW WYNKOOP said the story left him “with a sick feeling.” “The policy of family separation—which has separated more than 5,000 children—is a disgraceful chapter in our nation’s history. We cannot continue to stand silent while our government allows—and openly encourages—such harmful, illegal, and morally reprehensible policies. Earlier this month, media reports revealed that Department of Justice officials were a driving force behind this family separation policy even though they knew they didn’t have a system in place to reunite these families. This is deeply troubling and, simply put, unacceptable for an agency charged with the vital duty of enforcing the law and upholding justice. Nothing about family separation is just. We must speak out. Join me as a volunteer with Save the Children Action Network in contacting policymakers and urging the Trump administration to not only reunite every single separated child with their family, but to also end this shameful family separation policy once and for all. No child should be forcibly separated from their parents for years on end in order to deter immigration. Such cruel separations inflict irreparable damage to children and parents alike. We must demand change and expect better from our leaders.”

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Durham

15 MINUTES Craig Carter, 34 Social media manager for Discover Durham BY SUZANNAH CLAIRE PERRY backtalk@indyweek.com

How do you strike a balance between running an account that represents a city and creating engaging content? Great question. The two run hand-in-hand. If you’re creating content that truly represents a place—its people, perspectives, locations, and emotions—then it will resonate with the people that live there. Content is only engaging if you can identify with it.

Where do you find inspiration for tweets? Everywhere. My Twitter timeline, Instagram, Facebook—walking around Durham ... people are always talking about Durham. If I see something that I feel could be a promising piece of content, first I try to identify the feeling I want it to evoke. Then I try to come up with the fewest words possible to convey that feeling. In a world where every character counts, concision is vital. Then I try to put myself in the perspective of someone seeing the content for the first time, without any context. Even then, I don’t know what’s going to hit until I post it. I have a comedy background in stand-up and improv and there are a ton of parallels. You can spend hours crafting what you think is the perfect line, and it falls flat. And then you can have a throwaway line that gets a huge reaction. It’s the same on social media.

What is “Durham” to you? How do you try to bring that to life in your tweets? Durham is a place that people care very passionately about. It’s a place where every day I see someone I know and someone I’ve never seen before. It’s comfortable, but always has something new to explore and discover. That’s a balance I try to bring to our content.

PHOTO BY AREON MOBASHER

What is your favorite tweet that you’ve ever written for Discover Durham, and why was it your favorite? The one about the earthquake back in August [Ed note: the tweet says “Us: 2020 couldn’t get any more chaotic. NC: hold my tectonic plate”]. This is one of those examples I mentioned earlier about a throwaway line getting a huge reaction. I woke up that morning having slept through the earthquake and saw everyone talking about it in my timeline. 2020 seems to have some new terrible surprise every day, and people love to make fun of that [to help cope with the terribleness]. I’ve also found that personifying the state of North Carolina is really fun. So I imagined, what if North Carolina had a “hold my beer” type moment? W


Q UIC KBA I T

Poll Position

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orth Carolina voters couldn’t wait to get to the polls this year, and in doing so, they made history. Between the expansion of early voting sites and the ongoing pandemic making in-person voting risky for many, a record number of citizens cast ballots early or by mail. According to Michael Bitzer, elections data wizard and professor at Catawba College, by Sunday,

2016 vs. 2020 Daily Cumulative Totals of Vote Methods 4

2016 Mail 2016 OneStop 2020 Mail 2020 OneStop

3.5 3

(by millions)

in August 0 couldn’t tectonic es I menne getting morning uake and timeline. rible surmake fun bleness]. e state of magined, my beer”

2020s early ballots had already reached a whopping 95 percent of 2016’s turnout. “As if 2020 needed anything else to distinguish itself so far this year, the numbers of early votes have broken all the records in the Old North State,” Bitzer writes. “These numbers simply dwarf what was cast in 2016.” W

North Carolina Accepted Absentee Ballots (Mail & OneStop)

2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5

19

18

17

16

15

14

13

12

11

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9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1

Days Out from Election Day

North Carolina Accepted Absentee Ballots through Oct. 31 Vote Methods and Party Registrations

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BY LEIGH TAUSS ltauss@indyweek.com

95%

of total votes cast in 2016 make up the total number of North Carolina's 2020 early ballots

45%

35%

34%

37%

35%

30% 32%

29%

20%

62%

of the 7.3 million registered voters voted early

1%

Absentee by Mail 928, 428

1%

Absentee One Stop 3,603,154

Registered Democrat Registered Republican

1%

All Absentee Ballots 4,531,582

Registered Unaffiliated All other parties

Source: oldnorthstatepolitics.com

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A WE E K IN THE L IFE

INDY WEEK CORPORATE PRESS CLUB These companies and institutions proudly support free, independent local journalism in the Triangle. Please support our mission—and our community—by supporting them.

10/29

The Town of Carrboro, North Carolina continues to display BLACK LIVES MATTER flags at its early voting site at Town Hall—a gesture in defiance of state elections director Karen Brinson Bell’s request that they be removed.

10/30

University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill police respond to reports of an ARMED PERSON near the school’s COVID-19 testing center. When police do not find a suspect on campus, they issue an all-clear. Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin issues a CURFEW ahead of a planned protest in an east Raleigh neighborhood. The protest, however, never materializes.

10/31

At an "I Am Change" march to the polls in Graham, N.C., police offers deploy PEPPER SPRAY into a crowd of almost 200 that includes elders and children. The incident draws national attention, and Governor Roy Cooper declares it "unacceptable."

11/1

Motorco Music Hall Nasher Museum NC Museum of Art Peace Street Playmakers Repertory Company Quail Ridge Books & Music The Regulator Bookshop Teaser’s Men’s Club Unscripted Hotel

After a caravan of TRUMP supporters blocks a bridge near Tarrytown, New York, a Democratic state senator calls on police to identify and charge them. With less than 48 hours to go until Election Day, both KAMALA HARRIS and DONALD TRUMP make campaign stops in North Carolina. At a Trump rally in Hickory, a 20-foot tall American flag comes crashing down. Let's hope that's a good omen?

11/2

The ArtsCenter Arts NC State Carolina Theatre of Durham Carolina Performing Arts Cat’s Cradle Duke Performances Dr. Jodi Foy, DDS, PA GoRaleigh Kane Realty Corporation Kenan Institute of Ethics

(Here’s what’s happened since the INDY went to press last week)

North Carolina reaches 4,390 deaths from COVID-19, with 278,028 cases reported since March.

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November 4, 2020

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OP - E D

Decarcerate Now COVID-19 makes emptying prisons more pressing than ever BY SONG DURHAM backtalk@indyweek.com

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arrell Wayne Kersey died on September 16 after being sick for a month with COVID-19. Kersey contracted the deadly virus while being held in the Durham County Detention Facility. As we know, COVID-19 is a global health crisis that impacts us all, but cages are incubators that put people on the inside at a significantly higher risk of infection than the general population. If Kersey hadn’t been confined in a cage during a pandemic, he might not have gotten COVID-19. He might have had the opportunity to live. The conditions of our jails are insufficient and inhumane. These conditions reproduce cycles of harm which devalue human life and disproportionately exploit poor people and communities of color. Incarcerated individuals are not receiving adequate sanitation or necessary care, be it for pre-existing disabilities, mental health, or COVID19. We cannot afford to treat anyone as expendable. The Durham County Jail currently holds more than 300 people who are at serious risk of dying of COVID19, often because of a few hundred dollars in bail money. Here are a few of their accounts: “The first two weeks I was here, I didn’t receive medication or [a] CPAP machine. I have a condition that causes me to pass out. When I asked for assistance, COs [corrections officers] just laughed and left me on

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the ground. I have a sleep disability & PTSD and some other mental conditions that I cannot receive treatment for while I’m in this facility. The medication I need, they won’t provide. My hand is also broken. I have a bone poking out the side. (I was supposed to have surgery for it.) I go days without sleeping because of my medical condition and I am in constant pain.” —J.M. “It has been horrible. They switched our visitation system, so now it’s hard to see family. And the COs talk to us like we are animals. We have no rights in here, and we barely see our lawyers.”—A.L. “It’s stressful. It’s messing with me mentally, physically, emotionally. Not knowing if or when you’ll ever make it home.”—S.J. “Instead of letting our phone calls to family be free—to rest homes, hospitals, and home as well—they charge us, making us buy the phone cards. A $10 card costs $17, a $20 card costs $27. We are here fighting COVID-19; a

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lot of these guys have children who are sick, and mothers and fathers too. Are we going to stand by and let people die and get sick with COVID-19 here in jail and our prison system?”—B.P. This is not the time to try to make decisions about who should live and who should die. On average, 70 percent of the prisoners in jails—unlike prisons—have not been convicted of a crime. They are sitting in cages awaiting trial because they cannot afford to pay their bail. We envision and build a world beyond cages—one beyond demonization, beyond dehumanization, devaluation, and constant, fatal abuse from those who claim to offer protection. We have seen too many times that this system is flawed to the very root. Jails do not provide what people need to live. We cannot live without our lives. If we hope for life during or after COVID-19, then we need immediate decarceration. W Learn more about the Durham chapter of Southerners on New Ground (SONG) at southernersonnewground.org.


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Durham From left: Zach Sunderland, Drew Helm, and Bryce Jahner PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

Little Boxes Affordable backyard homes could make a big impact on Durham housing BY ANN GEHAN backtalk@indyweek.com

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ith rents continuing to skyrocket in Durham, affordable housing remains one of the greatest challenges facing the city. Increasingly, local stakeholders are looking to residential backyards for a solution. Accessory dwelling units, also known as ADUs, can take many forms, but they typically refer to small, stand-alone residential units located on the property of a single-family home. Proponents say these units can be a cost-effective way of addressing affordable housing shortages by serving as rentals for low-income tenants. Through collaboration with design firms and local researchers, Durham leaders are working to reduce barriers to developing and financing accessory dwelling units in the hopes of alleviating some of the pressure on the city’s housing market. Following the passage of the Expanding Housing Choices ordinance last year, which amended zoning rules to allow for increased density, and voter approval of a $95 million housing bond, the city began

to look more seriously at ADU construction as a means of increasing the number of affordable units. Erika Brown, the lead researcher on a city-commissioned report on the subject, concluded that the city needs to decrease barriers for property owners seeking to develop ADUs, paying special attention to creating affordable housing options and wealth-building opportunities for low and middle-income homeowners. Brown collaborated with various local developers throughout her research, including the founders of Haven Ventures, a Durham-based real estate development company that owns Haven Modular, which proposes low-cost solutions for building ADUs. “We believe in accessory dwelling units as just one tool in the toolkit for relieving pressure on the housing market that we’re seeing in Durham,” says Zach Sunderland, Haven’s executive director for architecture and operations. “It’s definitely not the only tool, but it’s something that we want to promote

and we want to see more of, so we’ve particularly targeted that as an organization.” Haven Modular plans to open a new production facility on Driver Street in Durham this month that will focus on factory-fabricated modular units. Bo Dobrzenski, a senior development services manager in the Durham City-County Planning Department, says he’s been seeing an uptick in demand for smaller units. “We’ve seen a trend in construction, which I’m sure is a reaction to the market, of smaller units becoming more popular, even just at market rate,” he says. “There’s less two or three-bedroom [units], and there’s a whole lot of drive for studios and one-bedrooms.” Sunderland recognizes that construction is only financially realistic for a small group of homeowners. Brown says Haven’s modular approach could help reduce costs and make ADU construction affordable for more homeowners. A custom-built, market-rate project for Haven can cost anywhere between $175 and $225 per square foot, but the company anticipates the cost of their modular units will range from $100 to $150. “We wouldn’t be doing something at all if we didn’t believe it had the opportunity to impact housing affordability,” says Drew Helm, Haven’s executive director of finance and real estate. While Haven’s minimalist branding may make the firm seem like yet another gentrifier-chic developer, its founders stress the importance of finding community-oriented housing solutions. “[ADUs] can be a low barrier to entry for the community at large, not just developers, to be able to have a positive impact on the housing market,” Sunderland says. “I think that’s valuable, because it creates a more tight-knit, neighborhood-by-neighborhood approach to solving some of the housing crisis that we’re facing.” One key difficulty Brown identified is the lack of existing ADUs in the market, making it hard for banks to provide an accurate valuation for a loan. With very few home sales including ADUs, banks have little evidence of what buyers are willing to pay for a comparable unit. As more ADUs are constructed in Durham, Brown says she expects homeowners, and especially low and middle-income families, to

face significant informational and financial barriers. One of the key recommendations from Brown’s report is the creation of an ADU manual, which would help communicate expectations for the permitting, development, and inspections processes. Durham Mayor Steve Schewel hopes that as more people learn about ADUs, more property owners will consider building them. “It’s definitely a serious solution,” he says. “No question––and it does another thing, too, which is for a low-income homeowner, for example, who’s struggling to stay in their own home, it could provide them with an important, necessary source of income if they built an ADU on their property.” Financing remains the trickiest piece of the puzzle, and both Brown and the Haven team are hopeful that the city of Durham will help make financing more accessible to low-income homeowners and foster greater financial literacy and education around ADU construction. After speaking with lenders and developers, Brown determined that a product that helped close the gap between what homeowners could afford and the cost of construction would be the best approach. Gap financing, as this solution is known, helps homeowners without sufficient cash savings obtain a traditional loan to finance construction. Haven is currently working with a group of investors to create a lending pool that would provide gap financing for their products, which the City could potentially join. The City’s participation could provide enough support to bring down the interest rate for participating homeowners. Brown pointed to the Durham Affordable Housing Loan Fund, which launched in 2019, as an example of what a public-private partnership could look like. The city initially contributed $3.5 million to the fund, partnering with Duke University, Self-Help Credit Union, The N.C. Community Development Initiative, and SunTrust Bank. “That sort of partnership, where there’s the credit union, and there’s other community partners who are providing additional capital to what the city is providing—that is definitely the type of thing that we would like to do in the future,” Brown says. W INDYweek.com

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N E WS Downtown Chapel Hill PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

Ghost Town What is Chapel Hill without its college students? BY SERGIO OSNAYA-PRIETO backtalk@indyweek.com

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ittle victories help Matt Gladdek get through the day. On a recent afternoon, he stopped at Chapel Hill institution Four Corners for lunch and asked if the new deck in front of the restaurant was attracting customers. As executive director of Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, an economic development nonprofit, he’d overseen the sidewalk expansion program that made it possible. It was, he says, a little victory. Before lunch, he swung by Imbibe, the Cajun kitchen around the corner. He wanted to speak to Mandey Brown, the owner and chef, about the new takeout-only parking spot in front of the business. As they spoke, a couple parked and picked up its takeout order. Another little victory. Before Brown, he’d checked in on Paula Gilland, CEO of Purple Bowl—known for its açai bowls and smoothies—and another business owner before that, and so on. For Gladdek, these conversations have 10

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defined the past six months of his life. The little victories are the result of constant planning and strategic meetings to help businesses stay afloat. Despite his organization’s efforts, a long list of downtown Chapel Hill businesses, once packed with students and football fans, have permanently closed since the start of the pandemic. “While it’s been hard for me, I know it’s worse for all those who have put their blood, sweat, and tears ... in their family businesses—that are doing everything they can to stay afloat,” he says. Chapel Hill is not alone in this crisis. Businesses in college towns such as Ann Arbor, Michigan; Athens, Georgia; and Bloomington, Indiana have all seen dramatic decreases in revenue as universities have moved online. Now the town is trying to look ahead—past the little victories and toward a long-term post-pandemic economic recovery. However, being built around a university—the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill,

which moved fully online after COVID-19 cases exploded in student residence halls and fraternities this semester—complicates the town’s plans. Unlike large cities or other small towns, college towns have to strike a balance between maintaining strong ties to universities while developing a local economy that won’t collapse if schools shut down. Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger knows how fragile this balance can be. “I’ve had several discussions with other mayors talking about the same thing … talking about the effects when [the university] is your major employer downtown,” she says. “It’s just devastating right now.” Hemminger’s long-term recovery strategy is the same one she’s followed to boost the town’s economy since she came into office five years ago: Focus on building commercial spaces and a strong private business scene— not one dependent on public institutions. She says the town’s four top employers are UNC, UNC Hospitals, the public school system, and the local government. “That’s not healthy for any community; you need to have other businesses, other large employers,” she says. The strategy requires getting out of what Gladdek calls a “nine-month economy,” and making sure “we’re in a 12-month economy.” Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for Chapel Hill, says business growth has been the town’s focus for the past 13 years. “If you grow up in Chapel Hill, and you have a child that graduates from the university, there’s a limited opportunity for them to even think about staying in Chapel Hill, because there aren’t tremendous job opportunities,” he says. “Our goal is to change that.” Hemminger says the town is working on the construction of a new parking deck downtown, along with an office building that could bring up to 800 jobs to the area. She says Chapel Hill has also developed a series of incentive packages designed to attract businesses like grocery chain Wegmans and Well, a health technology startup. For the college-town businesses that have remained open during the pandemic, Gladdek says the strategy has been to establish deep ties with the local community—not just students. Nestled in the mountains of western North Carolina, Boone is a lot like Chap-

el Hill; its top employers are Appalachian State University, a regional medical center, and its public school system. However, Town Manager John Ward says Boone’s economy has remained stable through the pandemic. “I’ve got reduced capacity in our dining establishments, but I don’t have closed businesses due to COVID-19,” Ward says. It may help that App State is still offering in-person classes. As of October 28, the university has just 21 active cases of COVID-19, though at least 1,000 students have tested positive cumulatively, and one student died of complications from the virus, according to university officials. But Ward says that even if the university shut down, Boone’s economy wouldn’t collapse. Tourists will play an important role in keeping the economy afloat in the months to come. “One of the things that we’re seeing is that our outdoor recreation providers, whether that be rafting, mountain biking, canoeing, or hiking, are helping buffer some of our other tourism numbers, like people coming up for festivals and major events,” he says. Ward says cabin rentals this year have already exceeded last year’s, a trend he attributes to families working or learning remotely. According to Emil Malizia, a research professor at UNC’s Department of City and Regional Planning, a college town’s location—such as Boone’s isolated spot in the mountains—will play a big role in attracting new businesses after the pandemic. Malizia said that “anchor institutions” like universities, though, will always be the main driver of a college town’s economy. “Whatever else we can do, we’re kind of playing around on the edges,” he says. “I mean, if there’s a major reduction in force at the university, or at the hospital—which is possible, hopefully won’t happen—there’s not much we can do.” Whatever recovery strategy college towns choose to implement, the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic is the biggest concern. Gladdek says it feels “as if the rug keeps on getting pulled out from under you.” “Right now, you’re predicting how to get through it,” Hemminger says. “And then, how do you recover out of it?” W


PHOTOVOICE

Really Really Free Market WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY BY JADE WILSON

The Really Really Free Market is not a new concept but, after taking a break for several months, residents are bringing it back to Durham. On the first Sunday of November, Durham held its exchange under the Lyon Park gazebo. This event, designed to counteract capitalism, got its start in New Zealand in the early 2000s. Not to be confused with charity, this space is all about giving back to the community through a friendly exchange of items and services. W

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THIS DUST WON’T SETTLE

Regardless of how the votes shake out, the polarization that has defined the last four years isn’t going away. We have to keep fighting. BY PAUL BLEST backtalk@indyweek.com

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t’s Wednesday, November 4. How you’re feeling this morning depends on which side of an increasingly polarized political divide you find yourself on and the coin-flip outcomes of a handful of swing states, North Carolina included, that tip the scales— or maybe don’t, with millions of mail-in ballots uncounted—toward destruction or salvation. It depends, again, on your point of view. Perhaps this morning you awoke with heightened anxiety—scrambling against the heaviness of what feels like gravity pulling you off a ledge into chaos. Or maybe you awoke calm with the grounding

of a dull gray dawn, uncertain but hopeful. Or maybe, like so many days before, you feel nothing at all. For many, election night four years ago felt like the country slammed the proverbial red button, but in reality, it’s been more of a slow-motion demolition—a plunge into authoritarianism punctuated by human rights abuses, scandals, and incompetence. Some of our worst fears haven’t come to fruition since President Donald Trump was elected; we haven’t, for example, kicked off a nuclear war via a tweet or a pissing contest to impress Trump’s base. But many of our worst nightmares have: the full-throated attack on undocumented people by Trump’s immigration cops, the use of riots as a pretext for crushing free speech, the cover and encouragement given to racists and fascists, the rank corruption, and so much more. Then there was COVID-19, a terror few people who weren’t public health experts could have predicted. Today, more than 231,000 people are dead as Trump continues to pressure states to reopen. No matter how the votes shake out, it’s equally hard to predict what’s next for all of us. But what’s certain is that in the coming days and weeks, the polarization that has defined the last four years isn’t going away. It’s become almost cliché to point out that Trump was the result of long-simmering tensions in American political life, but since his inauguration, the president has only further exploited and exacerbated them. Last month, Gallup found that the gap between Democrats and Republicans in Trump’s approval rating was the largest it’s ever been, 92 points, with 95 percent of Republicans approving of the job the president is doing, as opposed to just 3 percent of Democrats. This isn’t just a problem in the abstract; friendships and families have been destroyed over the last five years, and much of it is due to the fact that Trump and his congressional enablers—not to mention state-level politicians—have helped swing the GOP from a coalition of business interests and religious conservatives into an outwardly fascist movement. Last week’s Supreme Court decision to not expedite a GOP request to shorten North Carolina’s mail-in ballot counting window sent Trump into a rage, claiming that the election “should END on November 3!”—even though it has never ended on November 3. In Minnesota, a federal appeals court struck down a guidance from election officials and said ballots have to be received by 8 p.m. on elec-


tion night rather than postmarked, meaning that potentially thousands of ballots that voters were told were valid will be thrown out. Restricting voting as much as possible during a pandemic was Trump and state GOP officials’ final play, and if it works, we can expect protests similar in size to or greater than what we saw in the wake of Trump’s election and inauguration. Trump could declare victory on a razor-thin margin before counts are finalized. By the time you read this, he may have already. But a Biden victory, even if seemingly undisputable, could lead to violent protests. Last month, Trump’s Homeland Security secretary admitted that he was “particularly concerned” about white supremacist terrorism. The founder of the far-right Oath Keepers militia recently said in an Infowars interview that his group would be at polling places on Election Day to “protect” Trump voters. The third scenario, possibly the worst, is a drawn-out conflict over who won, harkening back to the 2000 Bush-Gore recount, with an even more conservative Supreme Court ready to hand Trump a second term. The Trump campaign, facing the reality that they’d need an unprecedented comeback to win, has been full-throttle for months trying to muddy the election results as much as possible. It’s not a sure thing that absentee ballots that arrive after November 3 in states including North Carolina and Pennsylvania will be counted; the Supreme Court is currently allowing them to move forward, but Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation gives the conservative majority another vote to “revisit” it. If that happens, who knows? There’s a lot we don’t know, but one thing is clear: this dust won’t settle. No matter what happens, if we ever want a better future—labor and economic rights and healthcare for everyone, a cleaner environment, a government that actually works for people—we’re going to have to continue to organize and agitate for it. No one with an iota of political power in the United States, unfortunately, is just going to willingly give it to us.

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he threat we’re up against has only become clearer as Trump has spent more time in office. The administration has rolled back even the most modest of regulations on the environment, even as extreme weather and wildfires have become more frequent. Corporate taxes have been slashed to almost nothing, while the GOP continues its relentless attack on a patchwork, inadequate health-

care system that the Affordable Care Act made only slightly better. And the administration, in concert with the Senate GOP, has shifted both the Supreme Court and the lower courts drastically to the right for the next generation. If nothing is done to reform them, any progress this country has achieved in the past century is on the table: the legal right to an abortion, voting rights, and workplace anti-discrimination efforts, to name just a few. Four more years of Trump would surely mean even more judges on the court to enact a right-wing agenda while being insulated from political consequences. Joe Biden, the favorite to win heading into the election, isn’t our white knight. He’s the product of the decades of neoliberalism that partially contributed to Trump’s first victory. He’s also one of the main architects of the Democratic Party’s turn away from New Deal politics and race toward the center. While the Biden who ran for president in 1988 and 2008 would hardly recognize the progressive policies of his campaign today, the former vice president explicitly ran in 2020 against expansions of the welfare state like Medicare for All and the version of the Green New Deal introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Most people can’t afford to wait for another set of patchwork reforms to the healthcare system, and we don’t have the time to take a moderate approach to combating climate change, which includes fracking. We need to keep fighting for those things. It remains to be seen whether the activist energy that has exploded among liberals and the Democratic Party over the last four years would continue with a Democrat back in the White House. The Trump administration separated families, but the Obama administration also put children in cages, and Biden’s former running mate was labeled the “deporter-in-chief” by activists during his presidency. Biden recently vowed to reunite more than 500 families with the children they’ve been separated from, and he has said that he’d reinstate the DACA program, which provides a pathway for undocumented people who came to the U.S. at a young age to stay in the country. But his administration could commit the same sort of atrocities against wouldbe immigrants that the Obama administration did. Would people be responding with the same energy we saw with family separation? What about protests against police brutality? There are a couple of reasons for cautious optimism. The first is that, unlike

with Obama, a lot of Biden voters aren’t blindly buying into his branding this time. Biden has never been a particularly inspiring figure, which means his policies wouldcome under more scrutiny than Obama’s. The second reason is that the Trump era has seen the birth of an effective roadmap for protesting and pushing back against the increasingly authoritarian nature of the executive branch. When family separation was revealed, the public rallied back against the White House and successfully forced Trump to sign an executive order ending the policy. Activists also successfully rallied to kill the GOP’s legislative attempts to destroy the Affordable Care Act. And all across the country this year, racial justice activists made some of their most successful attempts yet at forcing their cities to confront racism and brutality in policing. One aspect of the last four years that has been particularly encouraging has been the growth of the left and its willingness to challenge both Democrats and Republicans on the decisions that brought us to this nightmare realm. Democratic mayors, prosecutors, judges, sheriffs, and even members of Congress all over the country have been toppled by a new generation of officials who have promised to fundamentally change the system, if not create a new one altogether. And finally, the country is changing. It’s becoming more diverse, and the Sun Belt is the biggest representation of that, with states like North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Arizona shifting leftward. This doesn’t mean “demographics are destiny,” but it does mean that there are new opportunities to grow the labor and social justice movements that could finally put an end to the Republican domination we’ve seen over the past decade or longer in these states. Maybe you’re feeling hopeless right now. Maybe, for the first time in four years, there’s a glimmer of sunshine poking through the clouds. Or maybe you feel like none of this really matters. That’s ok, too. As bleak as things are, we’ve proven that we can change them—not because of the political forces that run this country, but in spite of them. And this is a longterm fight, one that’s not going to end with any election. It’s Wednesday, November 4. The fight is not over. W This story was published in partnership with Discourse Blog. A version appeared on their website on Tuesday, November 3, at discourseblog.com. INDYweek.com

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FOOD & DR I NK

Made With Love A virtual cooking demo celebrates the improvisational culinary chops—and close friendship—of three formerly incarcerated women BY THOMASI MCDONALD tmcdonald@indyweek.com

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t’s a common refrain among women serving time in North Carolina’s state prisons: There is no manual on how to survive incarceration. The newly imprisoned must learn the codes of life on the inside by observing more experienced inmates. When former Triangle attorney Jennifer Green-Lee arrived in 2015, she paid close attention to the dishes her fellow prisoners were preparing in day rooms or in between bunk beds. The most popular prison meals are “passed down from person to person,” says Green-Lee, who was released from the Raleigh Correctional Center for Women (RCCW) in February after serving five years for an embezzling conviction. “I got out just in time for the coronavirus,” she says. Last week, Green-Lee and two women she befriended while serving time, Jean Suber and Erin “Jersey Girl” Kinlock, were featured in “A Taste of Prison,” an online cooking segment celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Raleigh’s Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women. In the video, the three women make an improvisational lasagna. Over the past four decades, the IPMW has provided chaplaincy service and cultural and educational programs for women behind bars at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women (NCCIW) and the RCCW, both of which are located southeast of downtown Raleigh. The cooking tutorial was one of five virtual events hosted by the organization. The first episode, “HERstory,” focuses on 14

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the history and milestones of the IPMW, taking a look at the evolution of women’s incarceration in the United States over that 40-year period. Speaking with the INDY, IPMW Executive Director Jennifer Jackson stresses the importance of feeding incarcerated women’s “hunger for spiritual progress and growth, while helping them to develop in all the ways they want to be whole.” That means support while they are locked away, and more support when they are released. Before introducing the “Taste for Prison” episode, local television personality Valonda Calloway reminds viewers that the pandemic has forced many of us into isolation. Fittingly, Green-Lee, Kinlock, and Suber’s presentation offers a glimpse of what it might be like to celebrate birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries away from our families. Green-Lee’s journey with prison cooking began with her first official prison meal: A biscuit with molasses. The bland, unimaginative dining hall offerings left her in a state of perpetual hunger. She recalls the 5:30 a.m. breakfast servings of toast and scrambled eggs alongside instant coffee with distaste. Lunch was a frozen meat patty, a scoop of mixed vegetables, and a piece of fruit. The 3:30 p.m. finale was another meat patty and vegetable. “They make sure you get a certain number of calories each day,” Green-Lee says. “But they don’t modify it in any way. So you get the proper nutrients, but they’re not edible nutrients. It’s like the

From left: Erin Kinlock, Jennifer Green-Lee, and Jean Suber PHOTO COURTESY OF JENNIFER GREEN-LEE

dishes you knew to stay away from at the church social.” Her first improvised meal was a trash bag of ramen noodles heated with hot water. “You put the noodles in a trash bag, added water as hot as you could get it from the sink, and prayed to God it cooked,” she says. Slowly, Green-Lee began to re-imagine cooking, prison-style. A “spork” from a dining hall meal became a tool for shredding blocks of cheese that family members would sometimes send in food boxes three times a year. Stoves and ovens were replaced by the three microwaves used by the nearly 200 prisoners housed at the RCCW’s minimum custody facility. “State cakes”—made with oatmeal cream pies and honey buns, frosted with melted Hershey bars and decorated with M&Ms—featured prominently at birthday celebrations, parties, and anniversaries. Kinlock became friends with Green-Lee while they were serving their prison sentences. Kinlock was convicted in 2014 of

armed robbery in Cumberland, NC, and sentenced to more than nine years. She was released last September. U.S. prison populations have been declining over the past decade. But women’s incarceration rates—particularly for white women—have increased by 800 percent over the past 40 years. IPMW has also provided housing and re-entry assistance over its history; the importance of its work cannot be overstated. Kinlock began working in the office of the non-profit during the last two years of her sentence, and she describes the staff’s support of women who are transitioning from prison to home as “invaluable.” Green-Lee’s job during her first six months in prison was in the mess hall, where she worked as the lead cook. Her day started at 3:45 a.m., when she began cooking, and her shift ended at 1:30 p.m. She was paid 60 cents a day. Green-Lee, Kinlock, and Suber bonded while playing Spades over snacks purchased from the canteen.


“We had three solid years together where we would just hang out and enjoy each other’s company,” Kinlock says. “A lot of the prison food is not very good. Sometimes you had to make do with what you had and eat at the dining hall because that’s all you have. To cook gave a sense of normalcy, and it was something we could do together.” Toward the end of their sentences, the three friends weren’t able to spend as much time together, and cooking became even more important. Depending on who arrived home first, the women would prepare food bowls for everyone to eat after they returned to the barracks from work. Green-Lee remembers those meals and how they provided sustenance that went beyond satisfying her hunger. “I was grateful when someone would leave a hot meal on my bunk,” she says. “There was nothing better than seeing a bowl of lasagna on my bunk bed. It established a real sense of community.” On October 26, the three women reunited for the cooking demo. Seated together at a table in the video, they wear masks and rubber gloves, the ingredients for lasagna spread out before them. Each woman has brought what she needs to create her individual portion: packs of ramen noodles, a block of cheese, tortillas, a sugar packet, a spork, summer sausage links, and the brand of pasta sauce that can be purchased at the prison canteen, along with an inmate ID card. There are also two smuggled items: a fresh onion and a plastic knife. “Breaking bread gives us a sense of normality,” Kinlock says, then begins shredding the block of cheese with a spork. At this point, the cooking and laughter begin in earnest. “We have a fresh onion that won’t make it into the lasagna if Karen doesn’t make it out of the dining hall tonight with it smuggled under her shirt,” Green-Lee intones with mock solemnity. Green-Lee adds that the “18-monthold plastic smuggled knife has been used at other events,” and that getting caught

with the thing is a serious offense because it’s considered a weapon. “It’s definitely a risk we’re willing to take,” says Suber. “To have food,” Kinlock adds, finishing Suber’s sentence. Green-Lee pauses from cutting the onion to crunch up a bag of noodles. Then she slams the pack on the floor to make sure the contents are sufficiently crumbled. Suber, who now manages a transition house for women out of prison, says that sometimes the bonds forged among friends behind bars can be closer than bonds with actual family members. Kinlock agrees. “Women, we’re nurturers by nature,” she says, “And we have been separated from our families and our children, and locked away, and we feel forgotten. And for a short time, it gives us the ability to supplement our families with our new prison family, and feel like we’re part of something again. It helps you to process [and] get through the very real pain of not being with your family.” Kinlock continues to shred the cheese with the spork and GreenLee looks around warily. “If there are no snitches in the dayroom, then you get to use the trusty knife that has been passed down from month to month to month, until it actually gives up the fight and breaks.” Kinlock explains the spork’s multiple uses, and Green-Lee cuts in with a bit of a public service announcement. “If you guys are having trouble finding this part of the equipment,” she says, “You can always go to your local Bojangles or a fast food restaurant.” In lieu of the smuggled plastic knife, Suber recommends using a prison ID card that’s stuck inside of a glove. The magnetic end is up because you don’t want to damage it and render the card unusable at the prison canteen. “Looka there!” Suber exclaims, with all of the enthusiasm of a food show host on cable TV. “The ID card slices through the meat stick. “I bet you didn’t think I could do that, did you?” W

“There was nothing better than seeing a bowl of lasagna on my bunk bed. It establishd a real sense of community.”

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M U SIC Rapsody at Dreamville 2019 PHOTO JADE WILSON

Top of Her Class Rapsody gets her due from the academy and BET Awards BY KYESHA JENNINGS music@indyweek.com

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t the 2020 BET Hip-Hop Awards, held October 27, North Carolina wordsmith Rapsody took home the award for Lyricist of the Year. Though she was up against four male emcees—three of whom had built their careers on being lyrical mavens—it was no surprise that Rapsody came out on top. We knew, and she knew, that this moment was long overdue. Earlier this year, Rapsody’s critically acclaimed 2019 sophomore album, EVE, became the basis of two college courses. One, taught by Simone Drake, a distinguished professor of African American and African studies at The Ohio State University, places EVE in conversation with the writings of novelist Toni Morrison; the other, by doctoral student Tyler Bunzey at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, contextualizes EVE’s tracklist with seminal texts by Black women scholars like Angela Davis, Audre Lorde, and Anna Julia Cooper. Both courses rely on Black feminism and womanism theories and solidify EVE as a text of high intellectual merit in the field of hip-hop studies. “One of the highest honors is to create art for the culture and have it taught in our educational institutions!” 16

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Rapsody wrote on Instagram when news of the courses was announced back in the Spring. The recognition has been years in the making. EVE was overlooked at last year’s Grammys, despite having received widespread praise. Earlier that year, even Rolling Stone had declared the album, which features a tracklist of 16 songs named for influential Black women, a “masterpiece of hip-hop feminism.” And while Rapsody’s RocNation debut Laila’s Wisdom had landed her nominations for Best Rap Album and Best Rap Song, it was Eve that catapulted her into tense “Best Rapper” discourse. Outraged at the snub, fans took to social media, protesting that the musician deserved, at minimum, a nomination for Album of the Year. At the October 27 BET Hip-Hop Awards, things played out more favorably for her. But Rapsody’s gratitude and humility remained present. “This my first award for anything,” she said in her acceptance speech. “I’m happy that it’s from BET...it means something that it’s from a Black network, and it’s for lyricist of the year. The women don’t always get represented for that. I’m grateful.” Next, she paid homage to all the women in

hip-hop who had paved the way for her. Finally, in true hiphop fashion, she shouted out her momma. It was a memorable moment for Rapsody; earlier this month, students of Tyler Bunzey’s ENG 190 course experienced something similarly epic when the class received a surprise guest speaker. “I think one girl [said to the instructor,] ‘I think somebody might be Zoom-bombing our class. There’s an extra person here,’” says Treasure Rouse, a political science and history major from Raleigh. It took a few minutes for the students, who had logged onto the virtual class thinking they’d be reviewing midterm material, to grasp that the Zoom bomber was Rapsody. The artist popped up on Zoom full of good energy and excitement, recalling her exuberance during her BET win, and students had the chance to chop it up for more than an hour with the NC heavy spitta herself. Rapsody greeted each student by name before leading them in a conversation that spanned politics, fashion, and Black women’s hair. “Hip-hop has always been multimodal,” Bunzey says, reflecting on his course’s wide range of material and media. “[This] allows us to think through things in a more synthetic way, as opposed to trying to include them in a disciplinary lens.” Arya Kode, an economics and math major who identifies as a child of Indian immigrants, came to the course with little knowledge on American hip-hop culture. “One of my favorite things about this course are the guest speakers,” Kode says. “That’s a really cool feature that I feel like a lot of UNC classes don’t do—to allow you to engage with people that are actually doing the work in the real world.” Kode says the experience of being surprised by a Grammy-nominated star was “wild.” “I was like, ‘Okay, it’s gonna be a chill Wednesday. Maybe I’ll talk once,’” he says, “No! I had to get out of bed and make myself presentable. Even with all that, it made my day. It was a really fun, honestly very casual, cool conversation. Just getting to interact with the creator of the piece that is the centerpiece of an entire semester’s worth of work and discussion—when all the work and discussion has already been valuable—is priceless.” The Lyricist of the Year award is a testament to Rapsody’s dedication. With ten years in the game, amid increased visibility and popularity, she’s never folded. And she responded to the recognition from hip-hop scholars and their students in the same way as she did her first award. “Literally the moment she put her camera on, and it registered in my mind like, ‘Yooo this is Rapsody!’—it was super, super cool. And I feel like Tyler did such a good job prepping us for questions to ask,” Rouse says. “It was even more cool because [the conversation] wasn’t just one specific focus. You know, it was just like talking to another person in the grocery store down the street.” W


STAGE

BALLOONACY

Raleigh Little Theatre | Saturday, Nov. 7–Sunday, Nov. 15, various times | $12–$17 Raleigh's Community Bookstore PHOTO BY BLAKE CHEEK ON UNSPLASH

Upcoming Virtual Events

Spirited Away With its first live show in eight months, Raleigh Little Theatre gives innovative technical treatment to an unexpected star: a red balloon BY BYRON WOODS arts@indyweek.com

All events are online. Register for Quail Ridge Books Virtual Events Series at www.quailridgebooks.com.

Fall Readers’ Club Sale It’s time for our Fall Readers’ Club Sale! Think ahead: Christmas, birthdays, graduation gifts, teacher gifts—we have you covered. From Friday, November 20 through Monday, November 23, our Readers’ Club and Readers’ Club Plus+ members receive:

20% off books & merchandise

FREE Gift Wrap (to maintain social distancing, we will not be wrapping in store this holiday season) Book an appointment in advance or order through the website during our four-day sale for savings. Appointments are for one hour beginning at the top of the hour and can be requested by emailing books@quailridgebooks.com. Please specify your first choice (date and time) and second choice and whether you will be coming alone or with a guest. www.quailridgebooks.com • 919.828.1588 • North Hills 4209-100 Lassiter Mill Road, Raleigh, NC 27609 CHECK OUT OUR PODCAST: BOOKIN’ w/Jason Jefferies

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BILL BURTON

Un c o n t e s t e d Di vo rc e SEPARATION AGREEMENTS Mu s i c Bu s i n eDIVORCE ss Law UNCONTESTED In c o r p oBUSINESS r a t i o n / LLAW LC / MUSIC Pa r t n e r s h i p INCORPORATION/LLC Wi lls WILLS C o l l967-6159 ections (919)

967-6159

vokes—and ultimately, befriends—the curmudgeon. “It’s an instigator,” says Roberge. “It’s making decisions that are affecting me, tormenting me, amusing me.” As a friendship develops between the two, the balloon becomes the second character in what would otherwise be a one-person show. Though the work was originally written for young audiences, Gephart notes that this story of solitude has taken on a deeper resonance during a pandemic. In a nod to current conditions, the character takes a mask off when he first enters the house; though he lives alone, we can see that wasn’t always the case. “There’s a sense of loss and lack of connectivity to other people,” Gephart says. “A lot of us

11.10

Beth Kissileff and Eric Lidji Bound in the Bond of Life: Pittsburgh Writers Reflect on the Tree of Life Tragedy Co-sponsored by Beth Meyer Synagogue 7pm

bill.burton.lawyer@gmail.com

audeville star and early film comedian W.C. Fields famously gave fellow actors a grouchy admonition: Never work with animals or children. But what if your scene partner is a balloon? That’s the challenge facing actor Kevin Roberge and director Jesse Gephart with Balloonacy, a play that opens this weekend at the Raleigh Rose Garden’s outdoor Stephenson Amphitheatre. The novel production is Raleigh Little Theatre’s first show before a live audience in eight months. In playwright Barry Kornhauser’s wordless script, an old man finds his solitude interrupted when a red balloon floats into his life through a window. In a bit of magical realism, the floating sphere prods, pro-

Dr. Rupert Nacost To Live Woke, a discussion with Sarah Goddin 2pm

ATTORNEY AT LAW

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can relate to the idea of being alone just now, and what it means to have the ability to connect again.” Still, how do you give agency, and personality, to a brightly colored bubble? “I will tell you, it’s a journey,” Roberge says. “Every performance I learn a little bit more about Red”—the name he’s given his silent onstage partner—“gradually determining what it can do and what it can’t.” In 2017, Roberge and Gephart worked together on another show for RLT featuring unlikely puppets: the millennial musical Avenue Q. “A puppet’s just a material object—just fleece, foam, or whatever it’s made of,” Roberge says. “A balloon’s an object too. All I really have to do is transfer that same energy to the balloon.” “If I give this string a tug at just the right moment, it looks like it’s giving me a little tap on the noggin,” Roberge says. “Then you just find more and more of those moments.” “One of the things I learned from Kevin on Avenue Q was if the performer believes the thing is real, the audience will believe it too,” Gephart says. There’s no shortage of technical concerns when one of a show’s two characters can be blown off-course by a strong breeze. Designer Jenny Mitchell says the design team had to work through a number of balloon considerations—how big it should be, for example, and what kind of counterweights could anchor it onstage. The concentration and purity of helium within the balloon is crucial as well; consumer-grade gas available at places like Party City, for example, doesn’t give Red enough buoyancy. “The mix changes how it handles, and what you can get from it,” Roberge says. It takes technical ingenuity that the audience never sees to give an inanimate object an economy of expression. But in Balloonacy, Red is a playful, mischievous character who ultimately empathizes with the loneliness of its host. “It’s like the deus ex machina in the final chapter of this man’s life…the thing that restores the life he’s lost to him,” Gephart says. “I don’t think it’s a one-sided friendship,” Roberge concludes. “At the end, we’re both better after the journey.” W

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S PO RTS Tziarra King (third from left) with her Wolfpack teammates. PHOTO BY JAYLYNN NASH LLC

Rookie Goals In her debut season as a professional soccer player, NC State’s Tziarra King also makes a splash as an activist BY BRENNAN DOHERTY arts@indyweek.com

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ne afternoon in January 2020, Tziarra King walked onto the stage at the National Women’s Soccer League Draft in Baltimore, Maryland. She adjusted the microphone and thanked a long list of people for helping with her career. With that, she became the first-ever North Carolina State University player drafted into the NWSL. With the eighth pick in the first round, the Utah Royals FC made King’s aspirations to play pro a reality. Onstage, she wore the same smile that usually accompanied her on-field collegiate play with the NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh, where she recorded 48 goals and 19 assists between 2016 and 2019, during which time she also made two appearances on the All-ACC First Team. Her eagerness to get her rookie season underway in Utah was written all over her face. A pandemic and a nationwide racial justice movement later, King, who is Black, once again stepped up to the mic this June, at a protest in Salt Lake City. This time, understandably, her tone was different. She challenged those around her to “stand up with all Black people, not just Black people who can come up here and speak well.” 18

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“I just felt the urge to go up there and say what I had to say,” King told the INDY. Saying what she has to say has been the theme of the soccer star’s 2020. The 22-year-old has arguably become one of the NWSL’s most active voices when it comes to speaking publicly about racism and discrimination. When she first came across the video of George Floyd’s death, King says she had to look away. The unfiltered, easily accessible streaming of yet another Black person’s death at the hands of the police was distressing. This, she says, was followed by feelings of exhaustion: The discussions about race had become all-consuming, and she was feeling a bit of loneliness from being in a new city during quarantine. “You want to step on the field and try to forget about everything going on in the world,” King says. “But there are times when you just can’t do that, and it’s hard to find that balance. There were days when I was like, ‘I don’t really want to be here.’” In late June, the NWSL became the first U.S. professional league to resume playing since the onset of the pandemic with an eight-team competition in Utah, held inside a bubble.

During her debut game as a pro soccer player, King impressed by scoring her first goal in the last few minutes, bringing the score to a draw. That would be a memorable moment for any athlete, but King says it was second to one that occurred earlier in the afternoon, when she and her teammates took a knee during the National Anthem. In college, King had worried that kneeling would impact her prospects of being drafted. That afternoon, though, amid the summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, she knelt. “It was something I had always felt guilty for—not being able to kneel in solidarity with my community and stand up against injustice that’s been going on in this country,” King says. “So that first opportunity I got the chance to do that, that was really powerful to me. I remember I was shaking when I was kneeling there on the field.” Tim Santoro, King’s coach at NC State, has been watching from afar. He’s not surprised at the way his former player has become a leading voice in pro soccer. “I’m more proud of the non-athletic achievements in her life than I am than the athletic—and that’s saying a lot,” Santoro says. King is adamant about using her platform to speak up, from challenging the “stick to sports” crowd to confronting homophobia and transphobia in sports. She recently appeared in a series featuring prominent Black women athletes on Instagram’s company account. “It can be exhausting, especially right now, trying to get people to understand your perspective,” King wrote in her featured caption. “Regardless, I wouldn’t change who I am for anything in this world. I love being a Black woman.” In late August, King had reason to confront racism up-close. Days after police shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, players from Real Salt Lake—the brother club of Utah Royals FC that plays in Major League Soccer—went on strike from a match. Dell Loy Hansen, who owns both Real Salt Lake and Utah Royals FC, publicly denounced the players’ decision, stating that the action was disrespectful and that he felt like “somebody stabbed him.” Soon after, King called out Hansen in a viral Twitter thread. “Messages about inclusion and diversity are in complete contradiction with an owner who refuses to understand the relevance of a player strike for racial equality,” she wrote. Soon after, multiple allegations of racist language came out about Hansen. Under pressure from players like King, Hansen announced plans to sell the team. “You want to be in a space where you’re supported and you’re being heard and your opinion is valued,” King says, adding that when she looks back on her unusual first season as a pro, she feels hopeful about an athlete’s power to bring about change. As for how she’ll remember her rookie season? “I think,” she says, “it’s going to be a year we can mark down for growth.” W


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JAMES L. LELOUDIS AND ROBERT R. KORSTAD: FRAGILE DEMOCRACY [UNC Press; September 2020]

Blocked Box A close look at the state’s racist history of voter intimidation BY SARAH EDWARDS

Thursday November 12 7:00 p.m. live - online

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A

march to the polls in Graham, North Carolina on Saturday ended in chaos after police deployed tear gas on a crowd that included children and the elderly. The painful images sparked comparisons to scenes of voter suppression in the 1960s. In some ways, not much has changed since that time. The simple act of casting a ballot is still fraught. Writing this off as merely a byproduct of the Trump administration is tempting, but the rot goes deep. Fragile Democracy: The Struggle Over Race and Voting Rights in North Carolina—a new book by James L. Leloudis, a professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Robert Korstad, a professor emeritus at Duke University—takes a researched look at North Carolina’s fraught relationship with race and voting. By looking back, they create a framework for the future. The book begins with Reconstruction, a brief era of reform following the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment that was halted with the disenfranchisement of Black citizens and “reestablishment of white rule” toward the end of the 19th century. Central to that backslide was the 1898 Wilmington Massacre, when white supremacists overthrew the coastal city’s elected multi-racial government. That event is well-known; the insidious ways in which white supremacists worked to block Black citizens from voting in the years that followed are less recognized. The 1899 Act to Regulate Elections instituted a number of new clauses, including a literacy test which included a grandfather clause that excused anyone who had voted before 1867 (or, anyone with a descendant who had voted before 1867). This weekend, a video of a Trump voter identifying herself as a “poll challenger”

rather than a “poll observer” went viral. Th aggressive phrase was rightfully challenged, but it didn’t materialize this election cycle: The 1899 act permitted electors the right to “challenge the vote of any person” on polling day. In other words, voter intimidation was written into our state’s laws. And it worked: Before the coup, in 1896, 126,000 Black men were registered to vote in North Carolina. By 1902, that number shrunk to 6,100. In later chapters, the authors explore the rise and fall of Jim Crow and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, up through 2010, when Republicans won control of the General Assembly and lawmakers began to redistrict the state. In the past decade, legislation like HB589 has taken up where 1898 left off, with its push for a state-approved voter ID requirement, slashed early voting opportunities, and fewer voting sites. This, too, is racism at work: In 2016, a federal court ruled that the legislation was designed to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” If today’s voter suppression tactics have a familiar chill, that’s no coincidence. Trump may have exploited the fault line available to him, but the state has long been engineered against Black and Brown voters. Fragile Democracy is written by academics and can be a dense trek, but it is an indispensable manual for understanding how we got here. “History has a clarifying power,” Leloudis and Korstad write. “It exposes the fragility of our democracy, it warns us against complacency; and, in stories of struggle and courage, it offers hope that we might yet cast off the shackles of white supremacy.” W

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