INDY Week 2.10.21

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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill February 10, 2021

Abandoning

Hope

Faithful women came to Hope Community Church looking for fellowship and healing. Instead, disrespectful behavior from church leaders drove them to leave– and question their faith. BY KATIE JANE FERNELIUS, P. 12


Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 38 NO. 4

Sweet Bumpas cakes, p. 17 PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

CONTENTS NEWS 7

Fuquay-Varina police detained an innocent 14-year-old.

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Some Durham residents will recive a basic income.

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Meet Chapel Hill-Carrboro schools' new superintendent.

BY LEIGH TAUSS

BY THOMASI MCDONALD

10 Domestic violence is on the rise in North Carolina.

BY SARA PEQUEÑO

BY HANNAH CRITCHFIELD

FEATURE 12

Women of faith feel let down by Hope Community Church. BY KATIE JANE FERNELIUS

ARTS & CULTURE 17

Matt Bumpas makes swoon-worthy cakes.

BY LAYLA KHOURY-HANOLD

20 Searching within, Andrew Marlin releases two bewitching new solo albums.

WE M A DE THIS

BY SPENCER GRIFFITH

21

Can Kaze4Letters do it all?

BY KYESHA JENNINGS

22 The UNC Process Series' new festival features new stories about old traditions. BY BYRON WOODS 24 A new biography of Malcolm X corrects the record.

BY THOMASI MCDONALD

25 Well, are we living in a simulation? A new documentary investigates. BY GLENN MCDONALD

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THE REGULARS 4 Quickbait

6 15 Minutes

16 PHOTOVOICE

COVER Stylized photo by Jade Wilson

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Theater+Dance Critic Byron Woods Contributors Will Atkinson, Paul Blest, Jameela F. Dallis, Michaela Dwyer, Grant Golden, Spencer Griffith, Lucas Hubbard, Brian Howe, Kyesha Jennings, Mary

C R E AT I V E Creative Director

Annie Maynard Graphic Designer

Jon Fuller Staff Photographer

Jade Wilson

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BACK TA L K

Last week, Sara Pequeño wrote about how UNC-Chapel Hill students rushed Franklin Street to celebrate Carolina’s win over Duke, even though there’s still a pandemic going on. Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said the university is investigating the incident “and will work with the authorities to pursue consequences.” Our readers had thoughts. “Send all the students HOME to their parents,” commented Facebook user AN ELLIS. “Sick of this crap.” “The students at U.nC behaved recklessly at the beginning of the school year too,” wrote MAMIEJANE G BURDICK.“Classes were closed and campus shut down. So they do this again. Sad that narrowly defeating Duke basketball team causes them to endanger themselves and others. I hope they are safe but they may reap what they sew and who cares!” “Folks gotta celebrate,” wrote BULL CITY POLITICAL NERD, adding a shrug emoji. “Did anyone count masks?” In other news, a poll from Elon University found that North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper is maintaining his popularity, with a 51 percent approval rating. That makes him more popular among North Carolinians than both Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. “He has a really impressive track record in North Carolina elections, but I can’t help but think that most of it boils down to luck,” wrote Facebook user JOSHUA PATERNI. “McCrory and Forest we’re both truly awful candidates. All Cooper really needed to do was avoid beating himself, a la Cal Cunningham.” “The key to his success is moderation,” responded MICHAEL DEBERRY. “It also helps that he’s run against really awful opponents in both Governor’s races.” “Quiet and competent can win,” wrote CHUCK ALLEN. Meanwhile, Raleigh reader DOUG JENNETTE took issue with some of the INDY’s advertising partners. “For a progressive newspaper that prides itself as a voice for disadvantaged communities, I find it tragically ironic that you feature two full-page cigarette ads (Lucky Strike & American Spirit) in each issue,” Jennette wrote. “Tobacco causes 7 million deaths annually worldwide (480,000 in the US), with 80% of the 1.3 billion tobacco users living in low & middle income countries. Maybe the INDY philosophy just boils down to that articulated by an old-time NC bootlegger when asked why he did not drink: “Why son, you know moonshine’s not made to drink. It’s made to sell.” So, it’s just business?” For what it’s worth: There is a mile-high wall separating the INDY’s ad and editorial teams. Our free paper depends on advertisers to survive and pay our staff a living wage. If you want to help, please consider donating to the press club this year. You can find more information at indyweek.com/supporttheindy/indy-week-press-club/.

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February 10, 2021

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Q UIC KBA I T

Covid Love

backtalk@indyweek.com

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hen it comes to dating, whether you’re single or attached, we know it can be rough out there at the best of times. Then, 2020 came and threw a global pandemic into the mix, and life got real weird, real fast. So, in honor of our first Valentine’s Day in COVID-19 times, we asked you to let us know how you’re dating. Long walks outside with your love? Romantic conversations over Zoom? Making out with masks on? Nothing’s fair in love and COVID-19. Congrats to the folks who found love and life partners during this crazy pandemic.

Redditor ZakMiller “I met my girlfriend through Hinge in April. We stuck to video calls for a couple of months (mostly conversations and watching movies together using Netflix Party.) After quarantining, we met up for the first time and have been dating in-person since. We have spent a lot of time cooking meals together, going on walks on the Cary Greenways, and watching things together, of course. When it was warmer, we played a game of chess at the fountain in downtown Cary. I'd also recommend The Adventure Challenge "couples" book. It's a great way to get lots of different date ideas.”

Emma Cohn sent us this amazing Facebook message My boyfriend and I met in March through a FB group for Jewish college students, and even though he lived 2,500 miles away, in Los Angeles, we started talking. Texting every day turned into phone calls that lasted three, four, five hours and stretched waaaay too late into the night. Those turned into video chats and finally admitting our feelings for each other in July. By early August, he asked me to be his girlfriend, even though we'd never officially met. In September, he (as safely as humanly possible) flew out to see me for just three days. Everyone asked me if I was nervous, if I thought it was going to be awkward, and I knew in my heart the answer was no. It was one of the best weekends of my life. When he left, we both cried for two days straight. Then, in December, he came back out to stay with me. We went from only being with each other for three days in our entire relationship, to living together for a month and a half. It seems bizarre, but it just worked. I felt more at home and comfortable than I could've dreamed. He was supposed to go back in the middle of January, but COVID in LA was getting really bad, and he didn't feel comfortable flying. Instead, a friend suggested he move to D.C., since he was already on the East Coast. So... he did! He found a sublease through Craigslist, and I drove him up two weeks ago. Now, we're only four hours apart, and while that probably seems like long-distance to most, it feels like nothing at all to the two of us in comparison to what we were doing before! Plus, it's so nice being in the same time zone and not staying up until 3 a.m. to talk. I never would have imagined that I'd find my person through a Facebook group, but here we are.

Redditor jmp1993, who met their partner in January “We fell into quarantining and have lived together for the past 11 months. Honestly, it's been pretty easy. It's impossible to hide who you really are when you're confined to a small apartment, and it's allowed us to develop a strong relationship. We get along well, have similar cleanliness standards, and rarely argue. It's been wonderful having a companion during the pandemic. We are taking COVID very seriously and have only spent time with one another in close contact. If we see anyone else, we social distance and wear masks and only meet up in outdoor situations. I feel very lucky for a number of reasons but I'm most grateful for meeting my partner before COVID and developing such a warm, comforting relationship during these trying times.”

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COVID-19 or not, Redditor ElectrifiedPop learned there’s no escaping bad dates–they just look a little different “I went on a 'socially distanced date' a few weeks ago. We both got coffee and walked outside in the cold for about an hour, just chatting. Towards the end, I asked if he wanted to meet later that week, again outside, and he said, 'Sure!' He grabbed my arm, pulled my mask down, bit my upper lip as he awkwardly/horribly kissed me. Needless to say, I did not see him again and yelled at him for missing the point of being socially distant.”


Redditor Coadifer has been hitting the apps—safely, that is “Many apps have updated to include your preference with dates: Masked, social distanced, virtual. I've gone on a few dates over Zoom, which has helped significantly: If we can't hold a conversation over Zoom, I don't see a need to meet in person. For in-person dates, we've met at parks or trails for masked walks. We're lucky here to have a ton of green space, and many are easy to distance from other parties. We bring our own food and chairs and will sit and chat outside. The weather here makes this easy, too; we have nicer winter days than in most northern cities, so an outdoor masked walk is a great option.”

Redditor mittensfound came up with a plot twist

Redditor S4FFYR took a big life step “We got engaged in August. It wasn’t a huge surprise, but enough that I didn’t expect it during a pandemic. I had figured if anything, he would hold off until things were better in Europe (we’re both expats.) Cooper issued the stay-at-home order the day of our anniversary, which was a bit of a punch to the gut, and we had to cancel all our plans. Even though we live together with his eldest child, we still have a lot of fun: Dance parties (us and the teenager, maybe her best friend occasionally) in the kitchen/living room, the occasional ordering in/takeout from our favourite restaurant, taking the dog for hikes together, movie nights on the sofa—just random stuff we never really did together before. We were always out socializing together with our friends, running errands, or just general daily life when we didn’t have the kids pre-pandemic.”

?

“Does anyone want to date because of this thread?" she wrote. "Mid-thirties/female, fun-loving and immature, low mileage: No kids, no recent divorce, I like good times and chill vibes, gainfully employed, not serious about romance right now but a wholesome date would be fun.” Then, she hit us up with the following: “I got just a few messages for my date requests on the thread. Nothing set, but I think we will get there. So my answer is: I date in COVID times by thinking out of the box and being adventurous. Not many dates to be had, but people are valuing socialization more now. It makes it nice. My extroverted personality has been more appreciated these days.”

Redditor Unlikely_Edge_467 knows their worth

Redditor Bumpi_Boi has an untraditional relationship for untraditional times “I’ve been by the books this whole time. Following the CDC and Fauci’s guidelines to a tee. Which has been very hard for my wife. She doesn’t see the need to shelter in place for a year or longer to hide from this pandemic. Anyway, her boyfriend takes her out every weekend, where they go to Drivetime, axe-throwing, bars. He even took her to Myrtle Beach over the summer. They just don’t see how these times can be very dangerous for people who are scared of the outside world. It has caused quite the arguments between her and me. But I just wear my double mask and sleep in my separate bedroom like a good husband. Maybe things will get better now that Biden is in office and the vaccine is here.”

“I was freshly single at the start of the pandemic, and I did just fine until August, when the loneliness really hit. I tried a few dating apps, but quickly realized that men would swear up and down they had been quarantining, only to discover their social media painted a different story. One guy, I happened upon his Instagram just an hour before our date and dodged a huge bullet: From his feed/stories, you'd have no idea he was living amidst a global pandemic. So I just didn't show up for the date and gave no justification. Later in November, a situationship with an ex started to emerge again, but he soon showed that he also gave no shits about exposing me to his questionable circles. I ended that on New Year's Eve, when he threw a fit over me not coming over because I knew he'd been going out, seeing friends, generally being reckless. So I've had no further interest in dating for the moment, and I'm actually becoming quite happily single :) 2021 has been amazing, now that I've realized how little interest I have in dealing with dating drama. I've invested so much time and care in myself, and I've never been happier!”

Happy Valentine’s day, folks! And we’re hoping each of you is able to celebrate the other V-Day—Vaccination Day—very, very soon. INDYweek.com

February 10, 2021

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Wendell

e

15 MINUTES Caitlin Gooch, 28 Founder of Saddle Up and Read BY EMMA KENFIELD backtalk@indyweek.com

Caitlin Gooch, also known as the “Black Cowgirl,” is the founder of Saddle Up and Read, a nonprofit that uses horses as a way to encourage children to read more. On December 10, Oprah retweeted Gooch—and made her mission go viral.

Can you tell me a little about how and why you started Saddle Up and Read?

You’ve mentioned your desire to celebrate the forgotten history of Black equestrians.

I started Saddle Up and Read because I love horses. I love sharing my horses, which I’m very blessed to have grown up with. I wanted to share that with other children who wouldn’t have that same experience, and also meet the need to help encourage kids to fall in love with reading and become avid readers.

For Black History Month, everybody learns about Martin Luther King Jr., and he was definitely great, but there are a lot of other great Black people who have done amazing things.

Can you tell about how living on a farm impacted you growing up, and why you think that environment is so impactful for kids? So my family has always had this farm. Before I was born, my dad brought horses to it. And I started riding when I was three—and just being outside and around animals, especially the horses. That was my peace, my comfort—where I feel most myself, to be honest. Children get very excited when they see horses, because either they haven’t seen a horse before and want to know more, or they have seen horses and love horses. I think horses are quite magical; they connect us all together in a really mysterious way. I don’t know how often some of the kids read at home or like to read to their pets, but I know most of them have never read to a horse before. 6

PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SUBJECT

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Representation is very important. I made a coloring book— it’s on Amazon—called Color and Learn Black Equestrian Coloring Book. In the book, there’s a note, and it says, “You are the next generation of equestrians.” I made sure to put that in there for the representation. I’ve been to a classroom—it was a thing where the parents were there as well—and a Black man told me that when he was little, he wanted to be a cowboy. And his mother told him that Black people were not cowboys.

Tell me about the moment you discovered Oprah’s quote tweet. When she tweeted me, I was actually sleeping. Very busy with Saddle Up and Read. I was running around doing a lot of stuff, and it was also my birthday, so I took a nap. When I woke up, I went outside. I went back to my Twitter feed and happened to look at some random person on Twitter, and she was like, “Oprah tweeted at you.” And I was like, “Is this tweet fake? Like, is this a bot?” And so I went to Oprah’s page and, oh my God.

What does business look like after that tweet? There is a huge difference. So many emails, a lot of phone calls, a lot of text messages, a lot of people sharing on their Facebook, I think we have like 1,000 likes on our Facebook page or something now—closer to 2,000. I have a stack of checks that I have to take to the bank. You know, I’ve been doing my best to respond to the emails and also reach out to people who would be a great addition to Saddle Up and Read. For the most part, everything has been handled by me. I’ve been doing all of this by myself. This is so amazing but I’m also tired. I’ve been trying to figure out how to balance that and work within my means for now.

Where do you see Saddle Up and Read going from here? The first thing, I really definitely see us forming an amazing team, and then having a place—not just a place for Saddle Up and Read. I want a farm for myself—to live on it and have my house and the farm, but the farm would also be used for Saddle Up and Read and my lesson program. I have a lot of inquiries [from] people who want to start something like Saddle Up and Read. I’ve just been asking people to be patient so that we can get everything in order to do that in the future. I know there are a lot of amazing people out there who want to do great things, but it takes a lot of work. A lot. W


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Fuquay-Varina

Assumed Guilty A Black 14-year-old boy’s family wants answers after a Fuquay-Varina police officer handcuffed and detained him for “stealing” a dirt bike he’d bought BY LEIGH TAUSS ltauss@indyweek.com

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ver since he could walk, Malcolm Ziglar has loved bikes. For the soft-spoken 14-year-old, there’s no better feeling than zipping through the woods on a dirt bike or a four-wheeler, enjoying the scenery around him. About a year ago, he started working on dirt bikes—“just to open them up and see what’s inside,” he said. The hobby morphed into tutoring other kids in how to fix their bikes. Through that budding entrepreneurial enterprise— along with mowing lawns and washing cars—he saved up $900 to buy himself a used motorbike. He invested money and time into repairing the bike himself and listed it for sale on Facebook Marketplace for a modest profit. On the afternoon of January 30, some interested buyers stopped by the Ziglar home to see the bike. A short time later, Malcolm, who is Black, was in his front yard with a white friend when two Fuquay-Varina police cars pulled up with their lights flashing. Within seconds, Malcolm was placed in handcuffs, searched, and shoved in the back of a police car as officers ignored his repeated pleas to get his father and retrieve proof he’d paid for the bike. His white friend was also cuffed. But, after telling the officer he wasn’t involved with the sale, he was quickly released. The officer shut the cruiser door on the frightened teenager, and—in body camera footage reviewed by the child’s mother, Ty Ziglar—allegedly told the second officer on the scene that Malcolm had been “running his mouth.” “No, Mr. Officer. He was doing his best to clearly communicate to you his desire for his dad and the bill of sale to prove

his innocence,” an emotional Ty said during a Friday press conference with Emancipate North Carolina. “You were never there to hear my son. You were only there to arrest him.” If the cop could hear the white teenager’s explanation, she asked, “Why could you not hear my son?” The INDY has requested the body camera footage from Fuquay-Varina Police Department. Spokeswoman Susan Weis said the release of the footage is being reviewed by Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman. In a series of Facebook posts, the police department stated that the incident is under review, while also citing several state statutes that allow for minors to be detained with probable cause as justification for the officer’s behavior. “This is an ongoing investigation, and we request an opportunity to investigate this fully before everyone forms an opinion,” stated the post, which has nearly 1,000 comments. “We genuinely care about our entire community and regret when situations occur when anyone is impacted negatively during investigations.” According to the post, the bike had been reported stolen from Harnett County. After the owner spotted it on Facebook, she approached Malcolm under the guise of buying it from him and called the police. Malcolm, of course, had no idea the bike was previously stolen. He’d purchased it legitimately and even obtained a bill of sale. While Malcolm was cuffed in the back of the cruiser, the bike’s former owner approached the Ziglar home, Ty says,

The Ziglar family at the press conference PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

and confronted her husband, saying, “Next time you want something, earn it.” The first responding officer remained in the car. Within 30 minutes, a supervising officer arrived on the scene, assessed the situation, and released Malcolm. “In that moment, I was just in shock,” Malcolm said Friday. “I knew if I retaliated, I might not be here today.” Emancipate NC and the Ziglar family are calling on the Fuquay-Varina police department to release the body camera footage immediately and institute a community oversight board that will hold officers accountable for incidents of unnecessary policing. “You cannot ask us to trust the police department to police themselves if we cannot trust them,” said Emancipate NC executive director Dawn Blagrove. “We’ve talked enough. Now it’s time for the Fuquay-Varina Police Department and its chief to put some action behind their sentiments.” Cops are afforded a nearly unlimited amount of discretion on the job, Blagrove said. The officer could have easily used his discretion to afford Malcolm the same rights as the white teenager present. That lack of discretion—which Bla-

grove characterized as a lack of heart—is unacceptable, she said. Because North Carolina’s public records laws prohibit the release of police disciplinary records, it is unclear what, if anything, will happen to the arresting officer involved. For Malcolm, the incident, which occurred in front of his neighbors in broad daylight, was humiliating. “It made me feel like a criminal, when I’ve never done anything illegal to be seen as a criminal,” Malcolm said. The trauma will stay with the family moving forward, his mother said. “You stole his voice, because you viewed his words as him running his mouth,” Ty said. “This morning, we don’t come to steal anything from you. We first come to give you forgiveness and to publicly say you are forgiven. We also come today to say that while your actions were for 34 minutes, your impact is for a lifetime.” Her voice cracked and her eyes welled with tears as she continued. “I come to take back the power that was taken from my son that day and be a voice for the mothers and fathers that felt like my son when he said to me, ‘Mom, there was nothing else that I could do.’” W INDYweek.com

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Durham

Payment Pilot Durham plans guaranteed monthly income pilot for formerly incarcerated residents BY THOMASI MCDONALD tmcdonald@indyweek.com

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urham’s proposal to experiment with a type of universal basic income is moving forward. Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton recently announced a plan to implement a pilot program that will give select residents a guaranteed monthly income. The pilot could include providing 55 formerly incarcerated residents with a guaranteed income of at least $500 a month until the pandemic ends and the city’s economy recovers. “After consulting with Durham community stakeholders, other American cities that have embarked on guaranteed income pilots, academic thought leaders, consultants, and city staff, we have made a determination to submit a proposal focusing on individuals that have been justice-involved and are returning to their community post incarceration,” Middleton wrote in an email to the INDY last week. “These sisters and brothers very often face dual challenges in employment and housing due to stigma,” he added. “Focusing on this population will allow us to help some of our most vulnerable residents and also provide insight into the efficacy of guaranteed income initiatives on targeted populations.” Middleton attended virtual meetings with officials from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income and the Stockton Economic Empowerment Demonstration—groups calling for federal legislation for a universal basic income—as well as a meeting with scholars from the University of Pennsylvania. These meetings informed the Durham City Council’s decision to focus on people who were recently released from incarceration; the scholars he consulted noted that the “55 participants could potentially have more informational value on the efficacy of 8

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Councilman Mark-Anthony Middleton

the guaranteed income initiatives rather than a randomly selected universe.” In January, Mayor Steve Schewel, a member of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, announced that the Bull City was among 30 cities across the country under consideration for a guaranteed basic income for some residents. Schewel asked Middleton and Councilman Pierce Freelon to lead Durham’s effort to develop a guaranteed income plan. The first phase of the pilot would likely run for one year. Middleton would like to see the project extend beyond a core group of 55 individuals. “I plan to continue my engagement with corporate and philanthropic partners to supplement our expected $500,000 grant in the hope of conducting a pilot that will involve no less than 100 people,” Middleton said. “As in all things, the

amount of funding will determine the breadth of our reach.” Last year, before the city council learned of the grant opportunity, Middleton said, he proposed a $2 million guaranteed basic income trial for Durham “as part of a multi-faceted comprehensive plan to address poverty, policing, and the root causes of our city’s gun violence issue.” The proposal was derailed in part due to the economic toll of the pandemic on the Bull City’s coffers. “It was gratifying to learn that what we talk about in our public square here in Durham was being noticed around the country and Mayors for Guaranteed Income came looking for us,” he said. “Although we won’t get $2 million, the prospect of being able to put somebody else’s money where our municipal mouth is in the midst of a pandemic is beyond fortuitous.” Middleton said on February 5 that the council had unanimously approved a resolution supporting Durham’s efforts to secure funds from Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, made possible by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who announced in December that he had donated $15 million to the group. The funds could provide each of the organization’s 30 partner cities, including Durham, with up to $500,000. The resolution states that Durham signed on to the Mayors for a Guaranteed Income pledge and is actively working with community partners. City council members went on record in support of a guaranteed income, and the council concluded that it “supports ongoing, direct cash payments throughout the campaign and until our economy recovers.” The resolution notes that even before the pandemic, nearly 40 percent of

American households could not afford a $400 emergency. Moreover, an already growing wealth gap that disproportionately impairs quality of life for women and people of color has been “dramatically exacerbated” by the pandemic. The resolution notes that “American cities are laboratories of democracy,” and that mayors across the country have banded together “to address these inequities” and advocate “in favor of cashed-based guaranteed incomes.” It also notes that the guaranteed payments have been more effective than unemployment benefits for families of color. “The data show that another direct payment would increase Native American, Latinx/Hispanic, and Black family income by 4.1 percent, 3.9 percent and 3.6 percent respectively, compared to 2 percent of household income for white families,” the resolution states. The resolution refutes the idea that a guaranteed income is an incentive for hard-hit citizens to not work—“as demonstrated by the large number of poor people that work every day to provide for their families.” Instead, the resolution explains, the intent is to codify “a national value that declares that there exists a floor beneath which we will allow no person to fall simply by virtue of their humanity.” Middleton said the council intends to submit its application for the funding within the next two weeks, and that he anticipates launching the pilot by the end of March. “I’m very, very, very confident of our chances to get the money to Durham,” Middleton added. W


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Chapel Hill/Carrboro

Transfer Student Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s new superintendent, Dr. Nyah Hamlett, has plans to tackle the school system’s biggest struggles BY SARA PEQUEÑO spequeno@indyweek.com

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r. Nyah Hamlett’s tween is rubbing off on her. It’s January 15, and she’s on a conference call with a few reporters. The corners of her mouth lift into a grin as she explains her first order of business as Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ new superintendent: “LOL.” “I literally laugh when I say it, because I have a tween at my house, so everything is an emoji or an acronym,” Hamlett says. To Hamlett, who is just a few weeks into her new role, the expression doesn’t solely mean “laugh out loud”—although that’s still part of the plan. To her, “LOL” stands for “listen, observe, learn.” She sees these three verbs as steps toward long-term goals: racial equity, school-based mental health programs, and creating deeper engagement with families. “I want to know what we are doing well, what our opportunities for growth are, and how we can be of support,” she wrote in her first superintendent update. In practice, it means lots of meetings: 28 her first week, then two more that weekend, followed by appointments with elected officials, community leaders, and other stakeholders. She’s held four meet-and-greet sessions with parents, staff, and students, has one more planned, and is considering more still. Hamlett arrived at a complicated time: She was sworn in on January 4, in the middle of a school year and a global pandemic. On top of that, she was faced with navigating a complicated relationship between the school administration and the community, one that was exacerbated by her predecessor. It’s also her first time serving as a superintendent: The Maryland native started her career as a special education teacher in Virginia Beach, and has spent the past 16 years in different roles in various Virginia school systems. Her last job was as the chief of staff at Loudoun County Public Schools, a district just outside of Washington, D.C. that serves more than 81,000 students. (By comparison, there are only about 12,000 students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro district.) The CHCCS Board of Education unanimously selected Hamlett out of 36 applicants. Board member Mary Ann Wolf attributes this to Hamlett’s long-term goals, which mirror issues that have come up in the district. Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools is often considered the best school district in North Carolina. Data analysis web-

site Niche reports that it’s within the 97th percentile of school districts in the nation. Despite this, a 2018 Stanford University study found that the district has the second-largest equity gap in the nation between Black and white students, and the fifth-largest gap between Hispanic and white students. Riza Jenkins, the president of the school system’s PTA council, hopes Hamlett will work to close these gaps. “There’s so much work, and I’m not going to discredit any of the work that has been happening,” Jenkins says. “Just making sure we keep that front and center—that we want to see intentional focus on closing that achievement and opportunity gap.” Hamlett intends to do just that. She says the school system is currently looking to hire someone to lead the school’s equity work across the district. “It’s really about modeling equity in the work that we do, and having it embedded in everything that we do,” Hamlett says. “Equity is something that has to support, and be the foundation of, our work. My grandmother used to say, ‘Don’t talk about it; be about it.’ So I hope to model for people that equity is more than just naming inequity, or changing words and symbols.” She describes her approach to that work as being anti-racist and culturally responsive, and that’s something she has experience with. In 2017, while working as an assistant superintendent for Henrico County Public Schools in Virginia, Hamlett worked with local police to address the number of disciplinary actions and in-school arrests in the system. The school system rewrote the code of conduct, among other changes, and in-school arrests in the system plummeted from 300 to fewer than 10, according to Richmond Magazine. Hamlett’s former school system also implemented a pilot program involving social emotional support teams, a full-time social worker, and a full-time psychologist, which reportedly led to a 58 percent decrease in out-of-school suspension rates within the seven schools that implemented the program, which Hamlett oversaw. Despite these achievements, a recent Facebook comment on a Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools post expressed concern over Hamlett’s work in Henrico County. In 2019, the family of a 16-year-old with autism got into a legal dispute with Henrico County Schools when the family moved

Dr. Nyah Hamlett

PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

the student to a private, specialized institution with little notice, according to the district. The school spent more than $212,000 to dispute their decision, whereas it would have cost $138,000 to send the student to the private school until he turned 22. Hamlett, who oversaw the special education program for the system at the time, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that she worried that private institutions were “more restrictive” than public schools. Concern may also be rooted in a broader distrust of the CHCCS, fueled by a hectic 2020—in April, former superintendent Pam Baldwin announced her resignation in the aftermath of a controversy in which the school board was made aware of a now-canceled contract with Education Elements, a consulting group that was hired to close the racial equity gap within the school system. The nearly $770,000 contract was severed into 10 separate invoices, likely to circumvent the need for school board approval, which is required for any contract worth more than $90,000. The controversy created a rift in the administration’s relationship with parents and teachers. Jenkins says she feels the relationship wasn’t totally lost, but has been strained. “We just need to re-clarify and restore the perceived relationship that the school district should have with the community,” Jenkins says. “And let’s be clear: Their relationship with the [district] hasn’t always been the same for everyone. So with this concept of rebuilding, we’ve got to remember that not everyone has had a great relationship with the school district.” Yet many seem enthused about Hamlett’s arrival—including Hamlett herself. “I’m just excited,” Hamlett says. “That’s all I can say. If I had to wrap it up in one word, I’m excited for the challenges that lie ahead.” W INDYweek.com

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N E WS PHOTO BY SYDNEY SIMS ON UNSPLASH

BY THE NUMBERS

The Other Pandemic Reports of domestic violence have increased dramatically in the past year BY HANNAH CRITCHFIELD backtalk@indyweek.com

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t was a call with a clear plan of action. The woman on the phone, a member of the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe in northeastern North Carolina, was ready to leave her abusive partner. She needed a place to stay. So Karen Franco, a victim advocate at the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs and herself a member of the tribe, contacted a local shelter on her behalf. The shelter had room, despite crowding after coronavirus outbreaks shuttered other safe homes nearby. The woman would need to test negative for the virus before she could come, a staffer told Franco. It was May, and tests took about two to three days to process. By the time her results came back negative, the woman had changed her mind. 10

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She told Franco she was staying with her partner. “When you get a person who’s ready to go, and then they have to have a negative COVID test, it gives them time to turn around and go in the opposite direction of help,” said Franco. Reports of domestic violence spiked in the last year, confirming what advocates and providers had feared and anticipated at the start of the pandemic. Sheriff’s offices across the state saw higher incidents of domestic violence, according to public records requests made out to each county sheriff’s office. In total, these counties reported almost 2,000 more cases in 2020 than in 2019. The virus has wreaked additional havoc on victims who seek help, North Carolina researchers and providers said, by making it more difficult to access services.

Domestic abuse, though for centuries regarded as a private, family matter or dismissed as a “lovers’ quarrel,” is considered a public health crisis—and it’s a highly deadly one. In 2018, The Washington Post found that nearly half of the women murdered in the last decade were killed by a current or former intimate partner. The same year, about 40 percent of women who were killed in North Carolina died at the hands of a partner. People of all genders and sexualities can commit domestic violence, despite the swell of coverage and conversations about this type of abuse that often centers male perpetrators and female survivors. Data on domestic violence in the LGBTQ community is often elusive or incomplete, but some studies have attempted to measure its impact over the years. Here are several reports’ findings: About 10 percent of men, and 30 percent of gay men, will experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Bisexual women are almost twice as likely to experience domestic violence as heterosexual women. Transgender women are more than twice as likely to experience sexual violence from an intimate partner than people who are cisgender, according to a 2017 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs report. Eleven percent of LGBTQ domestic violence survivors in the same study reported experiencing hostility from law enforcement after they contacted police for help. Though domestic violence can affect anyone, people of color are disproportionately at risk, in no small part due to structural racism and displacement, which can exacerbate risk factors such as poverty and trauma. In addition, a history of disparate policing and broken promises can lead people to be distrustful of government-backed support services.

“That’s one of the big reasons why American Indians don’t reach out for help,” said Nikki Locklear, director of the domestic violence program at the NC Commission of Indian Affairs and a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina. “They know normally help comes from the government, law enforcement, the department of social services — the same people who have historically taken our children away from us, our homes away from us, our land away from us.” About 40 percent of Black people experience domestic violence, though rates are slightly higher for Black women. American Indian women and Alaska Native women experience intimate partner violence at higher rates than any other ethnicity. A little over half will endure the experience of domestic violence in their lifetime. “Marginalized populations, be they sexual minorities or BIPOC populations, are more vulnerable to all types of violence and often less able to access the support and the help that they need,” said Beth Moracco, a professor who studies domestic violence at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. “In my research, I’ve seen that economic insecurity can make people more vulnerable to violence and also less able to extract themselves from a situation that might be dangerous.” The pandemic has exacerbated several factors that place someone at increased risk for experiencing intimate partner violence. Domestic abuse is more likely when a potential perpetrator is unemployed, experiences isolation from other people, participates in heavy alcohol or drug use, or is depressed—the incidence of which have all increased during the past year. In 2020, the 38 counties that responded to records requests from NC Health News filed 24,760 reports involving domestic violence. In contrast, those same counties logged 22,776 domestic


violence reports in 2019. Thirty of them filed more reports in 2020 than they did the previous year. North Carolina domestic violence advocates and experts worry that the actual number of domestic violence incidents may be much higher, as people who are isolating throughout the pandemic with abusive partners may struggle to find the privacy to reach out for help. “If it’s escalating in reports that reach law enforcement, it’s definitely escalating in general,” said Locklear. “We know that domestic violence in our tribal communities is very, very high right now. We definitely have less clients, not because domestic violence isn’t happening, but because of COVID.” Moracco said a better gauge for the incidence of domestic violence last year would be the number of calls domestic violence hotlines and providers received. However, none of the local organizations NC Health News contacted said they tracked these figures.

BARRIERS TO HELP The COVID-19 pandemic has created more barriers than usual for people seeking and providing help. Many service providers work limited hours at offices, or their offices have closed entirely, meaning a person seeking help may be unable to connect with an advocate when they need to. “Most of the time, survivors will call our tribal center looking for help, and then they’ll refer the person to me,” said Franco. “But the tribal center has had to close three times, for several weeks each time, due to COVID. I’m in the process of trying to get my information posted on the tribal website, so it’ll be a little easier for survivors to get a hold of me. But right now, the phone just rings and rings. There’s nobody there.” Some domestic violence shelters have had to shutter, and reopen, and shutter again, due to outbreaks, leading to overcrowding at other shelters. “Victims now are in a situation where they have to determine, ‘Is it safer for me to stay at home and face this abuse, or put myself in a situation where I could possibly catch this very serious disease?’” Locklear said. Shelter closures sometimes force survivors to travel farther distances—and make the choice to be farther from family members—for refuge. For those without transportation, this may not be possible, particularly as advocates may not be able to

pick them up themselves, due to current safety protocols.

POSSIBILITIES FOR THE FUTURE As the pandemic continues into 2021, safe remote communication with victims remains a challenge. Providers said they will typically follow the lead of the victim themselves. “We are not contacting people first—we are letting the victim do the contacting,” said Locklear. “We ask them very plainly, ‘How do you want to continue this conversation? Do you want to just call whenever you’re able to? Is there a safe email address that I can reach you at? Can I text you on this number?’ We take our cues from them.” The pandemic has aided with one thing, researchers and advocates said: It’s encouraged domestic violence organizations to come up with creative ways to make rehabilitative services more accessible. “The local domestic violence agency in Orange County moved their support groups online, and they were worried that attendance would go down,” said Moracco. “But what they found, in fact, was that attendance actually went up, and they were able to reach people who may not have been able to attend in person before the pandemic.” The NC Commission of Indian Affairs has started to lead virtual healing circles and meditations for survivors, who no longer need to have access to transportation or childcare services to participate. Many groups will likely continue to have a virtual option for such services even after the pandemic ends, Moracco said. For now, Franco is continuing her work with the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe. Despite everything, she loves her job, which has always involved a little uncertainty and a lot of faith. “You can’t save everybody,” Franco said. “That’s the hardest part of this job. It’s kind of like destiny—there are things that are made for you, and there are things that are not meant for you. And that’s just how I have to look at what I do.” The woman from back in May eventually called back. With Franco’s help, she was able to get connected with safe housing despite pandemic-induced hurdles. “That person’s doing fantastic now,” she said. W This story was originally published by N.C. Health News. INDYweek.com

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STYLIZED PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

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Abandoning

Hope Faithful women came to Hope Community Church looking for fellowship and healing. Instead, disrespectful behavior from church leaders drove them to leave–and question their faith. BY KATIE JANE FERNELIUS backtalk@indyweek.com

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n a pair of Sunday mornings in late November and early December of last year, a group of survivors and their supporters gathered in front of a megachurch located on Buck Jones Road in west Raleigh. As members of Hope Community Church streamed in for services, the protesters held signs confronting Hope’s leadership on its record of handling sexual abuse and assault. Over the last few months, the INDY has worked to vet these allegations and the church’s response to them. Unfortunately, church leaders, including founder and lead pastor Mike Lee, have not responded to multiple inquiries, effectively stonewalling the INDY’s reporting around a fraught topic. Sara Dye, who joined the megachurch looking for healing after she was raped by a stranger and went through a divorce, says she was assaulted by a member of the church’s worship team. Katie Griffith says she was assaulted by a church member and groundskeeper when she was a high school student. At the time, over a decade ago, Griffith was volunteering to help the man on a weekend afternoon. “A lot of people turn to churches or organized religion when they are going through difficult times in their lives,” Dye told the INDY. (Dye also spoke to the INDY about sexual harassment allegations at Bida Manda and Brewery Bhavana last summer.) “It seemed like a safe place to be.” Dye and Griffith anonymously shared their accounts with the Instagram page of the North Carolina Protection Alliance—a small group of Raleigh activists that shared survivors’ stories of harassment and abuse beginning last summer, but recently dissolved. The INDY spoke with Dye and Griffith on the record, as well as with two other church members who allege harassment by men at the church, and several additional church members and corroborators—in a total of 11 women. Many of them described feeling dismissed and disregarded as women at Hope Community Church, prompting them to either leave or reduce their involvement. All allege that in these instances and in others, the church’s leaders, including Lee, did little to address their allegations or to hold the alleged perpetrators accountable. Lee founded the non-denominational Hope Community Church in Raleigh in


1994 and has grown it since to include nearly 10,000 congregants across three campuses in Raleigh, Apex, and Morrisville. He is now its lead pastor. Pastors and elders lead the spiritual and Biblical development of the church. All of them are men, although one woman serves in executive leadership. A typical service includes a live worship band playing contemporary Christian rock and one of several pastors delivering a sermon that is broadcast on a podcast feed, oriented around Christian self-help dictums. Hope also offers various social and charitable programs, as well as financial and addiction recovery assistance. Hope’s Triangle facilities are worth millions, and its annual revenues are clearly considerable, though they are not publicly accessible due to tax-reporting exemptions. The church owns a chain of coffee shops, Common Grounds, at each of its three locations. It also hosts a weekly service at a high school in Garner and runs an international campus in Haiti. Much of Hope’s appeal to newcomers is the promise of fellowship and friendship—an entire social network built around shared values and beliefs. “This is a new beginning,” reads a page on the church’s website, alongside links to attend informal meet-andgreets, join a small group, or enroll in an online lecture series on faith and the church. “You might be thinking, ‘What’s next?’” the text continues. “Well, we’re here for you.” In Dye’s anonymous Instagram post, where she first made her story public, she alleged that Diego Armando Rivera, a church group leader Hope had hired as a contract musician to play in its worship band, pinned her against the wall inside a private residence, kissed her, and assaulted her. Rivera declined to comment for this story. He directed the INDY to his lawyer, Bill Finn, who also did not respond to requests for comment. Griffith’s post, also anonymous and later removed by the N.C. Protection Alliance at Griffith’s request, followed, detailing a 2009 assault by an unnamed employee of GRACE Christian School, which shared property, facilities, and membership with Hope at the time. (Today, GRACE is a separate nonprofit and sole owner of half of the original Raleigh property.) In both cases, the survivors said they or their families reached out to Hope administrators, including Lee, but that their abusers were not adequately reprimanded or removed from the community. The posts spurred conversations as people tagged the megachurch’s account and shared concerns in the comments. Lee rebuked the allegations. “The thing about social media, we’re learning, is that you can pretty much post anything and it’s considered fact,” Lee said in an Instagram video posted on October 21, days after Dye’s and Griffiths’ allegations surfaced. He invited viewers to join him for in-person services where he would give “insights, facts, and … the other side of the story.” The following weekend, during an in-person sermon that was also broadcast through the church’s streaming service, Lee walked through his and the church’s perspective on the events. In response to Dye’s allegation, Lee emphasized that the alleged assault happened between two adults on

Hope Community Church

PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

their personal time, not on Hope’s premises. He also said the church’s understanding of the assault shifted over time as leaders received more information. Of the second post, he pleaded total ignorance, emphasizing that Hope and GRACE are separate institutions. “As big as Hope is, I realize there are going to be times when people, even you, go through things and it’s like your world is crumbling,” Lee said in his October address to the congregation. “I will give you my word that we are going to work harder than ever to make sure that Hope continues to be a place where people can run to when they are hurting.” Following Lee’s address, Hope published a longer response on its website, where it promised to assemble an internal task force to review and improve its policies. It’s not clear whether the church has done so. When approached for comment, Lee’s assistant directed the INDY to the same web page and declined to answer further questions.

A History of Mishandling Harassment Complaints Danielle Rogers joined a small group of Christian singles at Hope in 2018. According to church members who spoke to the INDY, small groups are the church’s lifeblood. Groups meet in members’ homes or at Common Grounds. Equal parts Bible study, prayer circle, and social clique, the groups

are intended to foster personal relationships and support networks. Rogers, far away from family and struggling with PTSD, thought a small group might be the right place for her to connect with other Christians, as well as find healing after leaving an abusive marriage. Instead, she encountered what she describes as patronizing, “demeaning,” and “abusive” behavior from two men in the group, including one small group leader. Another member of the same small group who spoke with the INDY confirms Rogers’ account. When Rogers brought these issues up to another group leader and later to pastor Andrew Yates, she says they encouraged her to privately address each man and offer him forgiveness. The INDY corroborated this through texts and direct messages from that time. Yates has not responded to requests for comment. “They wanted me to Matthew 18 them,” Rogers says. Rogers is referring to a Bible verse, Matthew 18:15, which advises those who witness wrongdoing to privately address the person who sinned first, and only to bring in outside authorities—such as church leaders—if that person refuses to admit to the sin and repent. “Matthew 18 is about interpersonal conflicts,” says Amy Stier, programs director at Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, a Virginia-based ministry that works to combat sexual abuse in churches. Stier, who has nearly a decade of experience investigating church abuse, says Matthew 18:15 is often cited to encourage survivors to pursue privacy and mercy in their reporting of sexual assault cases. “Churches do not always understand that the impact of their responses is often greater than the abuse itself,” INDYweek.com

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Stier says. “People are leaving churches by the droves, and when they leave, they’re not just leaving your church because they’re mad and they didn’t ‘Matthew 18:15’ enough. They’re leaving because their entire faith in God has been shaken.” Stier cautions against this approach because it’s not trauma-informed and can potentially re-traumatize survivors. “We wouldn’t use Matthew 18 to advise someone who was shot,” Stier says. But Rogers wasn’t the only woman who said Hope leadership advised her to follow this example. Nancy, who asked that her real name not be used, joined the Raleigh megachurch in 2014. A single mom, she says she struggled to find a good Christian community where she felt like she belonged. But at Hope, she flourished; she became a leader of a Bible study group for women and worked to develop a singles ministry. In a small group for singles, Nancy recalls, some men at the church openly scrutinized her romantic and sexual life and questioned her authority as a woman to comment on the Bible. Two other church members present during some of those conversations confirmed her account with Hope Community Church protest in December 2020 PHOTO BY JADE WILSON the INDY. When Nancy brought the incident In 2018, one of the same men who RogDye says that while she was house-siters reported problems with began harass- up with Yates, he said he believed her, ting for his girlfriend, Diego Armando Riveing Nancy, she says, repeatedly asking her she recounts, but discouraged her from ra pinned her against a wall, pulled down out, texting her constantly, and cross- pressing charges or taking other action her pants, and digitally penetrated her. ing boundaries, like inviting her into his that could harm the man. He said he She ran upstairs to get away, she says, but home when he was half-dressed. Nancy feared the man might feel pushed out he followed her into a bedroom, backed declined his requests for a date, told him of Hope and go harm women elsewhere, her onto the bed, and attempted to get on his behavior was inappropriate, and even- she recalled. top of her. She managed to grab her keys The INDY viewed text messages from and leave the house, she says, and drive tually blocked his number as he continued the time that corroborate Nancy’s account. back to her parents’ home. to harass her, she says. Yates did not respond to requests for Nancy, too, reached out to Yates when The next morning, Dye called in sick to her the man wouldn’t leave her alone. She comment. job at the church’s pre-school. On the advice “I definitely felt like I was pushed aside,” of her mother, in whom she had confided says she thought she had followed the Matthew 18 protocol, because she had Nancy says. “If you’re a woman, and you about the attack, Dye drove to the church privately addressed the matter with the want to be safe, you want to be protected, and requested a meeting with another Hope man first, but he still wouldn’t respect her you want to matter, [Hope] may not be the pastor, Donnie Darr. She described to Darr church for you.” boundaries. how she says Rivera assaulted her in detail. Nancy reduced her involvement with the “Matthew 18:15 is telling me this is what Darr offered her five free counseling sesI need to do, so I’m coming to you and I am church after that. Rogers left altogether. sions and said he and other church leaders Stier says this type of church response would look into the incident further and looking for guidance,” she recounts telling Yates. She says Yates advised her to wait protects predators. speak with Rivera, Dye says. Dye’s mother “Churches are supposed to be a place confirms her account. and see if the man’s behavior continued, but also offered to talk to the man in a of healing and of refuge for those who Darr has not responded to the INDY’s general way about his behavior towards are most vulnerable,” she says. “But when requests for comment. they mishandle allegations of abuse, they women. “Truthfully, I didn’t want [Rivera] to go to A few months later, Nancy’s harasser instead become a safe haven for predators.” jail,” Dye says. “As much as I hated what showed up at her door one night, angry. he had done to me, I really just wanted “He was like, ‘Are you just going to some type of accountability. I wanted him block me forever?’” she says. They argued, Allegations of Abuse to admit what he had done and say sorry. and she started crying. The man eventuI didn’t know then what the response from ally left. A neighbor walking by saw the Dye says she experienced similar inac- the church was going to be. I expected interaction and comforted Nancy. The tion from the church when she reported them to do the right thing.” neighbor confirmed this account with her assault, outlined in her Instagram post, Darr arranged a meeting between Rivethe INDY. ra and Dye, in the spirit of Matthew to Hope leaders in 2015. 14

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18:15, but Dye says Rivera didn’t admit to assaulting her. He claimed he blacked out, she says, and she left the meeting frustrated and crying. Work colleagues who saw Dye regularly told the INDY there was a noticeable change in Dye after the assault, describing her as going from “joyous” and “expressive” to “sullen” and “withdrawn.” Dye completed her five counseling sessions, but received no other updates from Hope leadership about how they were handling next steps, she says. She noticed Rivera was no longer playing music during services. But then, in March 2016, she returned from leading a mission trip for the church abroad and saw Rivera back on stage with the band. Dye says church leadership told her Rivera had completed counseling and was no longer a concern. Dye, still a church employee, then contacted the human resources department. Once again, she gave her full, detailed account, she says; HR told her they would look into it and inform her of their decision. Then, when she was working in her classroom one day, Darr came in and asked her to join him in a conversation with Lee, she says. “When we were walking up the stairs, [Darr] quietly told me, ‘I just wanted to let you know that I believe you and I advocated for you as much as I could,’” Dye recalls. She says she knew at that moment that the meeting would not go well. In Dye’s retelling, Lee told her he was sorry, but that there was nothing they could do, since she and Rivera told different stories. She says Lee emphasized that Rivera had gone to counseling at the church’s request, so he could remain on the worship team. Lee concluded, she says, by telling her they would keep their eye on Rivera in case he assaulted someone again. “I remember thinking, ‘But it already has happened, and you’re not doing anything about it,’” Dye says. Representatives from Hope did not respond to the INDY’s requests for comment on what, if any, disciplinary action the church took against Rivera. Dye then reported the incident to Raleigh police. In his public address in October, Lee said Hope had cooperated fully with law enforcement, referencing Dye’s statements about contacting the police on the N.C. Protection Alliance’s Instagram account but not mentioning Dye by name. The INDY could not obtain records from the police department or courthouse confirming whether police investigated or if any charges were ever filed; if Rivera had


his record expunged, these files would not be publicly available, and there is no way to verify an expunction. But Raleigh police did provide a heavily redacted copy of Dye’s police report, and Dye shared a screenshot of Rivera’s mugshot from that time. Details on the report are consistent with Dye’s account. Last October, Rivera filed a no-contact order and complaint against Dye in response to allegations about him that she posted on her personal Facebook page. The next month, Rivera voluntarily dismissed the complaint, court records show. Another contract musician in the church’s worship band told the INDY she received unwanted and inappropriate advances from Rivera in 2017, two years after Dye reported her assault to church leaders. Three more anonymous allegations against Rivera were posted on the N.C. Protection Alliance account shortly after Dye’s, but the INDY was unable to confirm any of them. “I have no doubt that we handled everything legally,” Lee said in his October address to his congregation. “But I do wish looking back that maybe we would have handled things a little more effectively.” Soon after her meeting with Lee, Dye says she quit her job and stopped attending services at Hope. “That experience put the last little bit of desire in me to go to church out,” Dye says. “I didn’t feel safe there anymore, and I didn’t feel cared for anymore.” Griffith, the author of the second anonymous post on the N.C. Protection Alliance account, says she not only left the church, but also left Christianity after a member of Hope’s community assaulted her. In 2009, as a student at GRACE Christian School, Griffith says she volunteered one weekend to help renovate a multipurpose center the school and church shared. Griffith says she was assisting a man who built sets for church services and maintained the grounds of the campus. She asked that the INDY not disclose the man’s name. Griffith’s mother, who attended Hope, knew the man from her adult small group, Griffith says. While they were alone in the center, Griffith says the man grabbed her by the wrists, held her against a wall, and digitally penetrated her. The next thing she remembers is being in the women’s bathroom with the shower running over her, she says. She used her cell phone to call her mother, who quickly arrived and took her home. After the assault, Griffith says her parents met with Lee to report what had happened.

“I was told by my parents that [Lee] explained to them that this was my fault for wearing shorts, their fault for not teaching the value of modesty, and my fault again for being too tempting as a fully developed teenager,” Griffith says. A source Griffith confided in following the incident corroborated her account over email. The INDY confirmed that the man lived in the area at the time. Records from AI HIT, a workplace website data aggregator, suggest that the man stopped working at GRACE school in 2014, about five years after the alleged assault. In his October address, Lee denied any knowledge of Griffith’s allegation. Lee also said he did not remember having any conversation like the one Griffith recalls. “There are a lot of things in life that I can’t be 100 percent certain of, but I can assure you with 100 percent confidence that that never happened,” Lee said of the conversation with Griffith’s parents. Churches are required to report sexual assaults involving minors, or that occur on their premises, to law enforcement. Griffith says neither Hope nor GRACE took any action after her parents reported the assault to Lee. She says she continued to encounter the man who assaulted her on the school and church’s shared property. Years later, her parents apologized for how they handled the assault, Griffith says. “I didn’t know what sexual assault was until I was 22, because the adults in my life at the time didn’t really do anything about it, nor did they tell me it was wrong,” Griffith says. “I just adopted the idea that this was normal … that my voice and opinion didn’t matter.” Dye says it’s a pattern at the church. “Hope tries to position itself as semi-progressive about women,” Dye says. “But when now you have multiple reported stories of women coming forward with abuse, and the church’s response has been consistently victim-blaming and putting the shift of responsibility onto the victim, it shows they don’t love and support women.” The demonstrations against Hope church have quieted, but the women INDY Week spoke with say they don’t feel Hope’s response has been adequate. These sources say Hope has taken no public action since Hope published its response online last fall. Many feel the church has not delivered on its promise of safety, community, and healing that it says it offers to women. “I wanted to surround myself with Christian men and women that had the same morals and values as I did, and that’s not what I got,” Rogers says. “What did I get? I found a bunch of men that preyed on women that were vulnerable.” W

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PHOTOVOICE Remembering Brittany Kittrell WORDS BY JADE WILSON + PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE KITTRELL FAMILY

On January 19, 34-year-old Brittany Kittrell died in police custody in Durham County. She was the oldest of two daughters and had three children of her own. Originally from Washington, D.C., Kittrell and her family moved to Durham when she was in high school. Even though she and her sister, Terraye Morris, were six years apart, they had an unbreakable bond. “She was a mom, a sister, and my best friend,” says Morris. Family brought Kittrell much happiness; so did clothes and makeup. And though she didn’t graduate from high school, that never stopped her from being a boss: At 17, Kittrell was the manager of a Red Roof Inn. Kittrell lived her life freely, her family says, and she didn’t waste time caring too much about the opinions of others. She is deeply missed. W 16

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FO O D & D R I N K

Buttercream Dream Chef Matt Bumpas finds sweet success in Durham with his swoonworthy layer cakes BY LAYLA KHOURY-HANOLD food@indyweek.com

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ooking can feel like a balm for the soul, but there’s something about baking a cake—methodically scooping and leveling off flour, creaming butter and sugar into ethereal sweetness— that is especially comforting. During the bleak winter months of the pandemic, even something as simple as a weekday sheet cake can offer a tremendous boost to spirits. But more momentous celebrations—say, birthdays, graduations, or romantic fêtes like anniversaries or Valentine’s Day—call for a show-stopping cake, something that really marks time. Chef Matt Bumpas, founder of Sweet Bumpas, a Seattle-icecream-brand-turned-Durham-cake-business, delivers just that with his whimsical, boldly flavored layer cakes. Surprisingly, Bumpas isn’t a sweets person. “The majority [of desserts] are one-dimensional sweet and one flavor, and I don’t want more than a couple bites,” he explains. His culinary background skews savory, but while working as a pastry chef at Poppy, a James Beard Award-winning restaurant in Seattle, he fell in love with making ice cream. His herb- and spice-infused scoops anchored his plated desserts (think: a fennel, pollen, and peach ice cream, paired with cornmeal blueberry cake). Bolstered by rave reviews, he started Sweet Bumpas in 2014 with one ice cream pushcart, eventually expanding to three carts and a walk-up window. He built his brand on 100 percent scratch-made ice cream—no pre-made commercial bases—and inventive flavors such as Cinnamon Basil Corn Cookie and Moroccan Honey. To satisfy demand, Bumpas also offered basics such as chocolate, vanilla, and

strawberry, though he never sacrificed on flavor intensity. Still, Bumpas says, “it didn’t make business sense to keep doing fun flavors that were inspired by my travels and the type of cuisines I want to eat. Ice cream has to be a high-volume game.” That output, coupled with ice cream’s seasonality, made for a grueling workflow. “I went full-speed from May to October each year, and then it suddenly came to a halt,” he says. “I was physically exhausted. As a business owner, I wondered, ‘How am I going to make it?’” Though he was burnt out, Bumpas imagined things might be different in another city. He sought counsel from Tracy Stevens, a former kitchen manager at Durham’s LocoPops who had sold Bumpas his first ice cream cart. Bumpas was persuaded that the Bull City, with its affinity for local, scratch-made food, would be receptive to his ice cream. Plus, a move would bring him closer to his family and his Southern roots: Bumpas grew up in Virginia and spent family vacations on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. In May 2019, he and his husband, Thang Do, moved to Durham. Shortly after Bumpas arrived, he started scouting shop locations. The process proved frustrating, partly due to the broad scope of non-compete clauses in shopping center leases. He briefly taught at a kids’ cooking camp, debated taking a resident-chef job at a kitchenware store, and even considered going back to his first career as a school psychologist. When the pandemic hit, like many people, Bumpas reevaluated anew. Boredom and a glut of black walnuts in his kitchen inspired him to make a banana walnut cake. After posting it on Instagram, a friend contacted him to make her son’s

Matt Bumpas with two of his cakes

PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

birthday cake. Bumpas obliged, and more requests followed, allowing him to refine his skills throughout the summer before business started taking off in the fall. “I have been blown away by how supportive folks here have been of my tiny cake business,” he says. “The fact that I don’t have a fancy shop in downtown [Durham] hasn’t deterred them from seeking out my cakes.” Since then, Bumpas has expanded his roster of four-layer cakes, which now includes the June Cleaver, a chocolate-frosted butter cake with bittersweet cocoa crumbles, and Caramel, Caramel, Caramel, a toasty burnt sugar cake with salted caramel Swiss meringue buttercream and dark caramel sauce. “I’m really enjoying cake, because people are more open-minded,” Bumpas says.“It’s not an everyday treat like people view ice cream as.” This rings especially true for custom cakes. For a couple celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary, Bumpas presented five options reflecting their affinity for Indian and Southeast Asian flavors, including a ginger cake with jaggery-roasted pineapple. They opted for Bumpas’ wildcard pick, a caramelized honey cake with a North African flavor profile (as it turned out, the wife loved cooking Moroccan food). He drizzled each layer with ras el hanout

caramel sauce, its floral-sweet aroma redolent of a Marrakech souk, and pulled it all together with a Cara Cara orange buttercream frosting, rosettes, candied orange peel, and salty, buttered pecans. Customer testimonials speak for themselves: One German chocolate cake converted a “ride-or-die for pie” person to team cake. Another convert described being able to hear the flavor in his wife’s birthday carrot cake, saying, “As I ate it, I experienced lost time.” Do, Bumpas’ husband, is similarly smitten. Last March, Do was laid off from his construction management job, so during Bumpas’ crunch times, he started making buttercream and executing crumb coats to help out. He even made his own birthday cake, fulfilling his dream of recreating a famous twelve-layer Russian honey cake from San Francisco’s 20th Century Cafe. Now that Do has returned to work fulltime, Bumpas has hired a kitchen assistant to keep up with demand. But he plans to maintain a boutique operation—mostly because he wants to preserve his personal connection with clients. “I was raised in the South, so I know the importance of manners,” Bumpas says. “Following up with customers and asking what they like or don’t like and thanking them for their business is important. I truly care about what I’m making.” W INDYweek.com

February 10, 2021

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M U SIC

THE WITCHING HOUR

FABLE & FIRE

Self-released; Feb. 5

Self-released; Feb. 19

Andrew Marlin PHOTO BY LINDSEY ROME

Inner Voices Searching within, Mandolin Orange’s Andrew Marlin rolls out two bewitching new solo albums BY SPENCER GRIFFITH music@indyweek.com

A

ndrew Marlin is accustomed to spending the bulk of his time on the road. Since the late aughts— alongside his wife and musical partner, Emily Frantz—he has led the beloved Chapel Hill roots outfit, Mandolin Orange. But, as for so many others, the past year has kept him largely confined to the same spaces around his home, a restriction he admits has frustrated his ability to source lyrical inspiration for his songs. “When I’m traveling and seeing a lot of people, I’m getting a lot of different perspectives on a daily basis,” he says. “I’ve been able to access a lot of that as inspiration [in the past] when I go to write a song. This year, it’s basically all been self-generated perspective.” Marlin found a path forward in instrumentals, which he says enable him to express himself when lyrics prove challenging. This month, he will release his second and third solo albums, Witching Hour and Fable & Fire, in rapid succession. “For me, writing these has been a way to confront how I’ve been dealing with all of the things that 2020 brought on, without having to be too specific about it,” he says. “This year in particular, it’s been difficult to pin down how 20

February 10, 2021

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I want to talk about things in a song. But those emotions and feelings are all still very present.” After touring behind Mandolin Orange’s 2019 contemplative folk album, Tides of a Teardrop, Marlin says he’s realized that instrumentals evoke feelings in a different way than lyric-heavy songs. They feel “immediate,” he says, and capture the energy and emotion of a moment while remaining comfortingly open to interpretation. “Recording those songs was such a huge release for me,” he says of Tides of a Teardrop. “They were all about dealing with the loss of my mom. But to play those songs and relive those moments every night on tour was very taxing.” The new albums gather up an ace line-up of Mandolin Orange bandmates and past collaborators, including multi-instrumentalist Josh Oliver, guitarist Jordan Tice, bassist Clint Mullican, and fiddler Christian Sedelmyer, with Nat Smith contributing cello on Fable & Fire. Their familiarity is palpable in these sessions, which were recorded live, with the players arranged in a circle. “It’s very reactionary, and I love that part about playing this music: giving myself that freedom to just improvise

and getting other people’s intuition on the records,” Marlin says. “I think you can feel that in the grooves and the way we all interact throughout the songs.” Witching Hour, comprised of tunes Marlin built up over 2019 and early 2020, finds Marlin often inspired by the birth of his daughter, Ruby, who makes a blurry appearance on the album’s black-and-white cover art. “I was staying up playing really quietly, trying not to wake her,” he says, pointing out that titles like “Milk Drunk” and “Witching Hour” reveal the musical window in which they were born. Fourth track “Woodland Star” was written as a lullaby. “It definitely seemed to be a pacifier in those first few months,” he jokes. “But nothing seems to work right now.” The songs on Fable & Fire, meanwhile, were born out of what Marlin describes as “a really intense purge” after he played last August on the Appalachian troubadour Tyler Childers’ most recent album, Long Violent History, which is largely instrumental. “I was driving home from recording in Kentucky, and I just couldn’t wait to get home and start writing,” Marlin remembers. He wrote nearly all the songs on the album between August and September. “They all felt old, and very rooted in this feel of magic realism, with these fantastical elements that I associate with Irish music,” he says. In the absence of travel, Marlin says he’s depended on literature to kickstart his imagination, be it his own sci-fi and fantasy interests—The Broken Earth trilogy is a recent read—or the children’s books he reads to his daughter, including modern tales like Dragon Loves Tacos and classics like as The Story of Ferdinand and Ox-Cart Man. Fable & Fire features a spirited tune that shares its title with the latter story, while the elegant finale of Witching Hour, “Jenny and the Dulac”—starring some evocative twin fiddle action from Sedelmyer and Brittany Haas—was based on T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. “It’s been great to just read a bunch and apply it to real life,” Marlin says. “You realize if your imagination is active, you start feeling like there’s so much going on around you— even when there’s not—and I think that works its way into these instrumentals.” While Marlin admits he’s looking forward to the time when he and Mandolin Orange can hit the road once again, he appreciates the slower pace the past year has lent to both his songwriting and his lifestyle, something he says has allowed him to feel more present while getting to know a side of himself he hasn’t seen in over a decade. “When we’re on tour, I’m always focusing on where we’re going and what we’re going to do,” he says. “Everything has been so uncertain this year that looking to the future hasn’t really been an option, so I’ve had to look within and see who I am as a homebody, as a father, and as a friend. I think I’ll come out of this stronger and knowing myself a lot better, which I think is going to translate in the songs and on stage.” W


M U SIC

Her Take: On Carolina Hip Hop

KAZE4LETTERS: A THOUSAND SHADES OF BLACK

[Vibehouse Music; Oct. 10, 2020]

Raleigh’s super producer, 9th Wonder, who remixed nearly 75 percent of the project and prompted a rerelease titled, Spirit Of ‘94: Version 9.0 via Brick Records Thomas has experienced the highs and lows of the music industry. Arguably, though, the lows—a label deal flopping, for instance, or losing a studio partnership due to differing visions—have allowed him to continually reinvent his role in North Carolina’s musical ecosystem. While being forced to work from home, the pandemic has given the husband and father—and current arts and culture director for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership—the space to prioritize his artistry. In October, he released A Thousand Shades of Black. through the independent label United Masters, a route that enabled him to retain 100 percent ownership of his royalties. With the release, Thomas has returned to his indelible core identity: Kaze4Letters the emcee. INDY: What aspects of your process changed with A Thousand Shades of Black? Kaze4Letters: It’s crazy, what quarantine ILLUSTRATION BY JON FULLER

A Thousand Shades of Kaze Can the Triangle hip-hop artist do it all? BY KYESHA JENNINGS

T

music@indyweek.com | @kyeshajennings

here are very few people in the Triangle who have been impacting and influencing North Carolina’s hip-hop community for 18 years and counting. From two promising label deals, to curating self-produced open mics and a hip-hop festival, to managing VibeHouse, a studio space for creatives, and now, most recently, hosting a radio show that centers issues of race, equity, and social justice within the Black community, Kevin Thomas (Kaze4Letters) seems to have done it all.

But there’s a small downside to quote-unquote “doing it all”—you can’t really do it all. While Thomas has a long list of accomplishments, and he has invested time and energy cultivating the Triangle’s hiphop scene, there were almost seven years between album releases. In the early 2000s, Kaze made a name for himself as a skillful battle rapper. His debut, Spirit of ’94, was released in 2003 on his own label, Soul Dojo. Eventually the album garnered the attention of

has made happen. It put me in a space where I had to stop! There isn’t any more VibeHouse—I had to close that in July, so that put me in the house with all of my equipment. March and April seemed like it was the end of the world, and it caused me to focus in a different way. At that point, I didn’t know what was gonna happen. I was like, ‘Yo, if this is this is how we’re going out, I want to focus on making sure that I leave a piece of art that really represents how I want to be thought about.’ I’ve been working behind the scenes to become a better songwriter, producer, and singer. I’ve been able to carry harmonies in a way that’s true to me. I think this moment is me evolving into the realest version of myself. I come from playing in the band. I grew up messing with the violin, playing the trumpet. My dad was a jazz dude. There’s so many elements that I did not present in the early incarnation of myself. I didn’t present everything that has influenced me. Would you categorize the content as similar that of A Thousand Shades of Black?

I’ve been heavily influenced by Chuck D, KRS-One, Nas, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli. I have always taken from them an under-

standing [that] there needs to be an element of the message that represents the culture. You know, even when we’re being creative, it’s still gotta slap—but there’s an element of responsibility. If you really call yourself an emcee, you are in tune with the culture of hip-hop. And there’s certain messages that need to be broadcasted. Hip-hop is the voice of the people. With this album, I wanted to take some risks. I wanted to push the envelope and show that I’m an artist. I haven’t shown everybody the whole bag, and I wanted to push myself to make something that isn’t perceived as some Kaze shit, where everybody knows he’s gonna rap! Nah, I’m gonna show you a broad range of my different influences. With this project, it’s evident that you were intentional with the creative decisions.

I produced seven of the songs on A Thousand Shades of Black. The fact that Kaze makes beats may be a surprise to most, but if you go back to the original Spirit of ’94, I produced all of the records except for one. This project has allowed me to tap into my producer bag and showcase my skills. I wanted to offer something different, so there’s a photobook. [INDY photographer] Jade Wilson shot 30 incredible images to go along with the album. I’ve done three videos; “The Ultimate,” “Crossroads,” and “Wake Up.” For “Crossroads” and “Wake Up,” I worked with 90 Degree Filmz, a production team that consists of two videographers who are awesome. It’s been a collaborative effort, working with them to develop concepts, and they always nail it. I’m really proud I got my visuals looking more like movies now, and that’s definitely having an impact with the presentation by allowing people [to take] my music more seriously. We also shot a documentary about the album with Taylor Adams from Scrapt Productions. I had to get with the current era. I’m from the era of put one album out every year or two. This is the era of “What have you done for me this week?” or even, “What did you post two weeks ago?” So that’s what people are seeing from me now ... a new commitment to consistency with putting out engaging content and material. I now know I can’t drop and then fall off the map. W INDYweek.com

February 10, 2021

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STAGE

STORYTELLING FESTIVAL: REMEMBRANCE AND RENEWAL (ONLINE)

The Process Series | processseries.unc.edu Wednesday, Feb. 17 – Sunday, Feb. 21 | $5 suggested donation per show

Remembrance and Renewal Recommendations By Byron Woods

What We Keep Keeps Us

Jaki Shelton Green | 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17 The oddest things can become heirlooms: a sewing kit, a toolbox, a favored rolling pin. In the festival opener by the state’s poet laureate, a family artifact collects a host of different stories as it’s passed down over generations.

Tragedy + Time = Comedy

Samuel R. Gates | 4:00 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20 Standup comedian (and professor) Gates probes the controversial history of Silent Sam, UNC’s Confederate soldier statue, in a comic inquiry into how public spaces are used to tell us who and what belong there—and how both can change with time.

Six Triple Eight

Charlotte Blake Alston | 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 20 Think the mail’s been a mess lately? It’s 1945, and millions of undelivered letters and packages for American soldiers sit in British and French military warehouses. Can the 855 Black women in the Women’s Army Corps’s 6888th Battalion fight social stigmas and dismal working conditions, clear the massive, three-year backlog, and create a functional communication system for the troops in Europe?

People Are NOT Disposable

Jasmin Cardenas | 8:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19 Cardenas, a Chicago-based activist and next-generation storyteller who’s the daughter of Colombian immigrants, brings tales from an array of pandemic frontline workers, from food industry employees to the factory workers making personal protective equipment.

Slanted

Simon Tam and Joe X. Jiang | 2 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 21 When Tam tried to reclaim an ethnic slur by naming his critically celebrated Asian American dance-rock band The Slants, his struggle to trademark the name went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Jiang, the band’s guitarist, helps relive the 2017 legal odyssey.

I AM SAN FRANCISCO

Brenda Wong Aoki | 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 20 A mixed-race engineer isn’t the only one with complicated emotions about his fancy-schmancy tech-sector job. His antecedents—living and dead—from Chinatown and Japantown are having some feelings, too. All performances will be streamed as a webinar on Zoom. 22

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DOVIE THOMASON

How The Wild West Was Spun (excerpts) | 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 17 Undocumented Indigenous | 8:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19

New Tales, Old Traditions UNC’s ambitious Process Series festival commissions new stories from Native American storytellers BY BYRON WOODS arts@indyweek.com

B

y now, Kaya Littleturtle knows the drill. Whenever the cultural enrichment coordinator for the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina is invited to perform in a public forum, his hosts always want the same thing: “Some dancing and singing, ‘like how you did it back in the day,’ Littleturtle says. “I always hear that kind of verbiage.” “With us as native people, there’s always a box drawn,” he says. “It’s not drawn by us, but we have to step inside that box.” Dovie Thomason, a professional storyteller of Lakota, Apache, and Scottish Traveller descent whose career has spanned some thirty years, is also familiar with our culture’s conspicuously narrow interest in historical Native American tales, as opposed to grittier accounts that reflect the present-day experiences of those communities. In her view, it’s based on a colonial culture’s wish to view Native Americans as archival, “so they could voyeuristically look in on us as museum specimens,” she says. But both Littleturtle and Thomason were surprised when Joseph Megel, director of the Process Series at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, made an odd request when inviting them to participate in the online storytelling festival, Remembrance and Renewal. The five-day event will livestream works from more than 15 cross-cultural raconteurs, including Native American advocate and North Carolina Heritage Award winner Senora Lynch, of the Haliwa/ Saponi tribe, Wednesday through Sunday next week. In keeping with the mission of the Process Series, Megel wanted new works, new stories. He was also willing to pay the artists to create and workshop them before an online audience. “I asked them, ‘What do you want to talk about, now?’” Megel recalls. “What stories do you need to tell, now?” People in the arts “feel like we’re telling stories all the time,” Megel notes. “We know good storytelling has the power to move people—move them from where they are in their lives, move them politically toward action, or to open themselves to looking at how they are connected to others.” For him, commissioning new works from cultural storytellers is an experiment that might enable both artists and audiences to “move forward in some way.”

N.C. Heritage Award winner Senora Lynch, of the Haliwa/ Saponi tribe, leads an online tour of her mosaic, The Gift, Sat., Feb. 20 at 2 p.m. PHOTO BY JADE WILSON

For Thomason, the platform represents a “more than rare opportunity, which never really existed when I did just traditional stories.” Over the last decade, she’s delved increasingly into original solo works, like How the Wild West Was Spun: a lively and critical deconstruction of what she terms the “manifest mythology” in the 1880s traveling shows of Buffalo Bill Cody. Her new work, Undocumented Indigenous, draws on her family’s decision, several generations back, not to


KAYA LITTLETURTLE

A Creation Story 6:30 p.m., Friday, Feb. 19

enroll under a new federal policy with the Apaches of Oklahoma. That choice continues to have profound repercussions in Thomason’s personal life and career. “I’m known in the storytelling world as ‘a person of authentic voice’—which is really ironic,” she says. “Since I’m not ‘enrolled,’ within some indigenous communities, I’m not legitimate.” Having her identity and heritage regularly questioned as a “pretendian” fed another demon familiar to accomplished women: imposter syndrome. “Certainly I’m not the only one,” Thomason says. “We all feel kind of fractured, and I think this last year has brought those fractures to the fore.” In her view, our culture as a whole is currently suffering from imposter syndrome. “One of the sentences we keep hearing in America today is, ‘This is not who we are,’” Thomason notes. “Well, who are you then? Is this new to you? Because it’s been my life experience!” “You don’t tell Americans they’re colonials,” Thomason observes. “They say, ‘We were the colonies, but we’re united now.’” Then comes the zinger: “No, you’re not. Your states are not united; your states can’t even elect a president!” The festival commission offered Littleturtle the chance to add deeper emotional and spiritual context to a Lumbee creation myth he has repeatedly performed over the years—or, as he describes it, “a full scope, a full scale of who we were, who we are, and who we plan on being.” “I actually get to speak about the importance of long hair, and about our tobacco: how we were given it from the Creator for our prayers, how we still use it today, and how that prayerful tobacco has helped our people through the COVID,” Littleturtle says. He notes that the pandemic has forced indigenous communities to rely on traditional medicines, songs, and stories, and describes the crisis as an unexpected source of personal development. “People have had to sit with ourselves, which in society today has not been something that we’ve been accustomed to,” Littleturtle says. “Before that, someone might not have necessarily recognized their emotional trauma, their intergenerational trauma, their historical trauma; you get lost in the bustle of everyday life.” W INDYweek.com

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PAGE

THE DEAD ARE ARISING: THE LIFE OF MALCOLM X

By Les Payne and Tamara Payne | [Liveright; October 20, 2020]

Revolutionary Record A meticulously-researched recent biography of Malcolm X goes beyond the myth BY THOMASI MCDONALD tmcdonald@indyweek.com

O

BILL BURTON ATTORNEY AT LAW Un c o n t e s t e d Di vo rc e Bu s i n e s s L a w UNCONTESTED In c o r p o r a t i o n / L LC / DIVORCE Pa r t n e r s h i p MUSIC BUSINESS LAW Wi l l s INCORPORATION/LLC WILLS C o l l e c t i o n s SEPARATION AGREEMENTS Mu s i c

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ne can only imagine the impact Malcolm X would have had in the ongoing struggle for human rights, had he not been murdered on February 21, 1965. Days after his death, the actor Ossie Davis spoke for many Black Americans during his memorable eulogy for the minister and civil rights activist at Harlem’s Faith Temple Church of God. Davis said Malcolm X would be labeled by his detractors as a man “of hate—a fanatic, a racist— who can only bring evil to the cause for which we struggle!” “And we will know him then for what he was and is,” Davis said at the end of the eulogy: “a Prince—our own black shining Prince!— who didn’t hesitate to die, because he loved us so.” The Dead Are Arising, a new biography about the life of Malcolm X released late last year, was the winner of the National Book Award for Nonfiction. It was written by the pioneering, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Les Payne, who died in 2018, and his daughter, Tamara Payne. In a word, The Dead Are Arising is a masterpiece. As gun violence continues to steal the lives of so many young Black men in the Triangle and across the country, learning about Malcolm X’s coming-of-age years— without his stern, Garveyite father to guide him and his older brother—are poignant. The breaking up of his family by a social service agency is instructive and heartbreaking. Les, who worked as an editor with Newsday and was a founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists, first heard Malcolm X speak while he was a college student. “On that June night,” Tamara writes, “My father came face-to-face with his

own self-loathing.” In an essay, Les wrote about that June evening, too, asserting that he had “entered Bushnell Hall as a Negro with a capital N and wandered out into the parking lot—as a black man.” In 1990, Les began a 30-year period of meticulous reporting, interviewing anyone he could find who knew Malcolm X: “his living siblings, classmates, cellmates, Nation of Islam figures, FBI moles and cops, and political leaders around the world.” It also offers a graphic, near-breathtaking, minute-by-minute account of Malcolm X’s assassination at Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom, and the macabre celebration that followed on the part of those who knew of the plot to end his life. Here, in the scheme to assassinate one of the past century’s most iconic human rights and revolutionary figures, there’s a North Carolina connection: The architect behind his death was James Shabazz, chief minister of the Nation of Islam’s Newark mosque. Shabazz was originally from Southern Pines, N.C., where he was known as James Russell McGregor. Shabazz’s intense hatred of Malcolm, as the Paynes detail, was long-standing and born out of jealousy. The Payne’s magnum opus is filled with carefully researched new revelations and does the essential work of correcting the historical record about Malcolm X’s life. Recommended reading for both serious African American scholars and students of American history, The Dead Are Arising is destined to become the definitive work about the life of one of this country’s most provocative figures. W


SC R E E N

, 2020]

A GLITCH IN THE MATRIX | HHH

available on VOD Feb. 5 | aglitchinthematrixfilm.com Raleigh's Community Bookstore

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say, Les ng, too, ed Bushtal N and lot—as a

Tune in to our podcast

Reality Check

ar period wing anyalcolm X: ellmates, oles and ound the offers a eathtaky-minute colm X’s BY GLENN MCDONALD arts@indyweek.com Harlem’s om, and lebration n 1999, science-fiction classic The the part Matrix welcomed viewers to a world in ew of the which the universe is actually an unthinkably complex computer simulation. While fe. cheme to the concept itself wasn’t particularly new, of the it was the first time that mainstream movost icon- iegoers were introduced to the idea as a and revo- science-fiction premise. In short fashion, there’s a an entire generation freaked out. nnection: Two decades later comes A Glitch in the ehind his Matrix, the new documentary film from s Shaba- director Rodney Ascher, who specializes in of Islam’s bizarre fringe theories and the people who originally love them. (His Room 237 is a deep dive into e he was the mythology surrounding Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.) Glitch takes its title from a line or. alcolm, as of dialogue in The Matrix, then pivots off the nding and film to explore a piece of pop science conjecture known as the Simulation Hypothesis. illed with The quick version: The Simulation ions and Hypothesis proposes that our perceived, cting the consensus reality is a hyper-advanced m X’s life. computer simulation operated by a highh serious er intelligence. It may be an alien race, students or it may be a far-future human civilizare Arising tion reaching back in time. Those of us tive work in the simulation might think that we’re ry’s most conscious entities, but we’re actually just lines of cosmic code.

Fascinating authors Wide-ranging topics Bart Erhman, Terry McMillan, Jasper Fforde, John Grisham, Randall Keenan and many others

Rodney Ascher’s latest is a brain-bending look at simulation theory

I

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Still from A Glitch in the Matrix

The weird upshot is that the Simulation Hypothesis is considered entirely valid, so far as it goes, and has been seriously debated by physicists and philosophers, plus public figures including Neil deGrasse Tyson and Elon Musk. Every few years, the concept seems to get traction in the mainstream and makes headlines for a week or two. (I got semi-obsessed myself, for a minute.) Ascher’s film takes an interesting, bold, and not entirely successful approach to the topic. Rather than populate his film with credentialed experts, he comes at things from the inside out. The film is structured around testimony from several true believers, each with crazy stories about odd coincidences and weird synchronicities—glitches in the matrix. The stories are fun, no doubt, and can be persuasive in that stoned-in-a-dormroom sort of way. The filmmakers use archival footage and creative animations to illustrate all the weirdness, even going to far as to represent each storyteller with a computer-generated webcam avatar. Interstitial segments are narrated by a deliberately old-school, 1980s-style computer voice.

PHOTO COURTESY OF MAGNOLIA PICTURES

That stuff works well when the conversation is kept light and trippy. But Ascher makes a severe wrong turn when he introduces a tragic and violent true-crime incident into the mix. Suddenly, Glitch swerves into ghoulish tabloid territory, and it never manages to pull out of that fatal turn. When the goofy computer narrator returns, nobody’s in the mood for that shit anymore. More successful are the intermittent framing sequences featuring sci-fi godfather Philip K. Dick (The Man in the High Castle), who specialized in alternate realities and elaborate deceptions. I also liked the more sober material on the long history of this kind of existential speculation—a history that goes all the way back to Plato. Glitch suffers from some serious tonal problems, but the subject matter is intrinsically fascinating. The Simulation Hypothesis is just fun to think about, and it’s interesting to hear these people talk it out. One of them is inspired to quote Shakespeare: “There are more things in heaven and earth … than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Another is more succinct: “Just like any other theory, none of us is going to know ’til we’re dead.” W

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P U Z Z L ES

KEEP IT ! L LOCA

If you just can’t wait, check out the current week’s answer key at www.indyweek.com, and click “puzzle pages” at the bottom of our webpage.

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su | do | ku

this week’s puzzle level:

© Puzzles by Pappocom

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

26

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2.10.21 INDY CLASSIFIEDS classy@indyweek.com


ur webpage.

C L AS S I F I E D S EMPLOYMENT Principal Statistician Principal Statistician sought by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP. Multiple position(s) avail in Durham, NC (full-time; to provide statistical expertise for complex dsgn & interpretation of clinical studies, reg submissions, & prodt commercialization. Req’ts: Must have a PhD or foreign eqiv in Statistics or a related + 5 yrs of exp in the role or rel. Must have 5 yrs of exp with: Researching & dvlpg statistical methodology related to the dsgn of late phase clinical trials; Statistical prgmg skills including SAS & R; Conducting clinical trials in accordance with ICH & GCP regulatory standards; Drug dvlpmt, study dsgn, data analysis & interpretation; Leading & directing project work for late phase clinical trials & Using statistics to analyze dsgn, complex problems, problem solving & quality focus to support for late phase clinical study analyses. Will accept MA + 8yrs exp. 20% travel to various & unanticipated sites natl & intl. Travel exp pd by ER. APPLY: http://www. astrazenecacareers.com. “Search jobs,” enter “ R-098473 “ as the “Keyword,” & click “Search.” No calls please. EOE.

HEALTH & WELL BEING

919-416-0675

www.harmonygate.com

Process Development Engineer (Durham, NC) Process Development Engineer (Durham, NC): Dvlp & improve processes for large diameter wafer mfg through CMP & other techniques. Dvlp & control wafer slicing, lapping, CMP & grind processes for large diameter SiC mfg. Master’s in Chemical Engg or related +1-yr exp as CMP Process Engineer or related reqd. Resumes: Cree, Inc. Attn: Allyson Van Gorder, 4600 Silicon Dr., Durham, NC 27703, Ref. #6724.

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February 10, 2021

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