Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill September 2, 2020
A TALE OF TWO SIGNS Want to know how gentrification in Durham works? Just read the signs. BY THOMASI MCDONALD, P. 14
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Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill
Upright citizen: Casey Toll, p. 18
VOL. 37 NO. 32
PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
CONTENTS NEWS 11
Greek life at UNC won't stop for COVID-19.
BY SARA PEQUEÑO
FEATURE 13 Two different kinds of for-sale signs springing up in Black neighborhoods tell the story of gentrification in Durham. BY THOMASI MCDONALD MUSIC 18
Meet Casey Toll, the unsung hero of the Triangle's indie-Americana vanguard. BY BRIAN HOWE
FOOD 25 Black Farmers' HUB brings relief to the food desert in Southeast Raleigh. BY SARAH EDWARDS
CULTURE 26 How to be an ethical sports fan during the NBA's long-overdue reckoning. BY LUCAS HUBBARD
Durham cartoonist Keith Knight leaps from page to screen in Hulu's Woke. BY ZACK SMITH
28 Why Kennedi Carter said no to being in an exhibit at the Whitney. BY JAMEELA F. DALLIS
THE REGULARS 6 15 Minutes 7 Quickbait
8 A Week in the Life
COVER Design by Jon Fuller
WE M A DE THIS PUBLIS H ER Susan Harper
Digital Content Manager Sara Pequeño
EDITOR I AL
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Interim Editor in Chief Brian Howe Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss Deputy A+C Editor Sarah Edwards Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald
September 2, 2020
Theater+Dance Critic Byron Woods Voices Columnists T. Greg Doucette, Chika Gujarathi, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Courtney Napier, Barry Saunders, Jonathan Weiler
Contributors Jim Allen, Will Atkinson, Jameela F. Dallis, Michaela Dwyer, Lena Geller, Spencer Griffith, Howard Hardee, Laura Jaramillo, Kyesha Jennings, Glenn McDonald, Josephine McRobbie, Samuel Montgomery-Blinn, Neil Morris, James Michael Nichols, Marta Nuñez Pouzols, Bryan C. Reed, Dan Ruccia, David Ford Smith, Eric Tullis, Michael Venutolo-Mantovani, Chris Vitiello, Ryan Vu Interns Mary King, Bella Smith
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BACK TA L K
Last week, in news that came as a shock to no one, NC State decided to close down on-campus housing after placing nearly 1,400 students in quarantine following exposure to COVID-19. Some folks on Facebook had thoughts. “Yeah, I’m very liberal but this lockdown and COVID stuff is getting absurd,” WILSON OWENS wrote. “Maybe we just be humans and live with this. Kind of like cancer or HIV or the flu or TB or any other disease. Stop watching CNN and look at the actual data.” “Would you say this to an ICU doctor who saw their ward filled to capacity?” SUSIE HATMAKER responded. “What does ‘be humans’ mean in this context? We are ‘living with it.’ This is us, living with it. We don’t get to choose not to. All the other diseases you mention have available treatments and do not currently, in the US, have the ability to fill an entire city or town’s ICU ward and risk the wellbeing of everyone who works there. I don’t watch CNN. I look carefully at the data. I am not in fear. The data is what it is, with safety measures in place. The death rate and severe case rates, if extrapolated to the entire population (or even just half of it, assume not everyone is infected), would still come out to millions dead, and preventably. And for the record I don’t think we ‘just live with’ the other diseases you mention either. We allow the most vulnerable to die from them, just like we are doing now. The US allowed reprehensible disease and death to spread during the HIV crisis by ignoring it bc those in power assumed those affected deserved their fate. Same callous logic in play here as the nation forces the most vulnerable to die at the highest rates, this time not because we think they particularly deserve it for their sins, but because we demand their service for our convenience and can’t be bothered to demand they be provided safe working conditions as they do so. The data, in particular the racial, ethnic, and class data in this pandemic, is disgusting and unjust.”
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OP - E D
Bucking the System Could the Milwaukee Bucks’ historic strike inspire change in Durham sports? BY PIERCE FREELON email@example.com
lack men. Black boys. It’s okay to cry. It’s healthy to At the bottom of the pyramid are gifted Black kids. cry. It’s healing to cry. But for me, this week, it’s been Within this plantation model, it was significant to me hard to cry. that the Bucks were the ones to lead this historic strike. I’ve felt the impulse to shed tears with the families expe- A Buck is what they used to call a Black male slave. It’s riencing violence here in Durham; for those suffering from a dehumanizing term. Slavers thought of Black human isolation, anxiety, or loss due to the pandemic; for folks who beings as chattel, as beasts of burden, so on the auction have been battered by Hurricane Laura; for those reeling block, they would use the language of animals to describe from the shooting of Jacob Blake; and for those mourning Black men, as Black Bucks. the deaths and injuries of protestors who were mowed Buck is an enslaved man of African descent. down by a vigilante lynch mob in Kenosha. I’m overwhelmed with heavy grief that has been growing, like a tumor, with every act of injustice. I “The Bucks have cast off their dehumanizing have grief fatigue. I’m weary because, even in the brand and stepped into their full humanhood.” eye of a hurricane, our Black lives are vulnerable to the tempest of racism. I’m exhausted because the pandemic hits different when you’re also suffering from the Buck is a term of endearment that Black men have interplagues of white supremacy and poverty. nalized (i.e. “What’s going on Young Buck?”) I need a good, deep, long cry, but I can’t find the tears. I Buck is a slang term for the dollar bills Black folks have have that feeling you get when you’re about to sneeze. I’m historically been denied because we aren’t owners in the tense, with flared nostrils and labored breathing, in antici- sports we dominate. pation of a release that never comes. There is a levee inside Buck is sound of the gunshots that ran through Jacob me that is on the verge of bursting, but I can’t find the vul- Blake’s back and murdered two protestors in Kenosha. nerability, to click that valve and release the anxiety and So when I heard that it was the Bucks that led the pressure. So I’m just, kind of, holding all that inside right now. charge to say: We’re not animals, we’re not here for your Then this week, I was on the phone with a dear friend entertainment, we won’t shut up and dribble, we will Buck when I heard that the NBA basketball team, the Milwaukee the system, it moved me. Bucks refused to play, during the playoffs. This was bewilThis was not an individual player like Colin Kaepernick dering to me. As a kid who grew up in a basketball Mecca taking a knee during an anthem, or Muhammad Ali prolike Durham, I couldn’t imagine one of our internation- testing war, but a whole team refusing to play. They were ally renowned sports franchises boycotting the playoffs. following the leadership of the WNBA, which has a long Durham is home to two of the best coaches in basketball, history of unapologetic, league-wide protest and solidariwith Coach Moton at North Carolina Central University ty movements. The Bucks’ historic strike has led to other and Coach K at Duke University. Basketball is such a huge teams, in other leagues refusing to play. Naomi Osaka part of life here—could you imagine players striking during stopped playing tennis. Baseball was halted. March Madness?! The strike has me thinking about how local teams, What makes this even more fascinating is the fact that such as the Durham Bulls, the North Carolina Cenbasketball is structured like a plantation—with mostly tral University Eagles, or the Duke Blue Devils can use white coaches, white owners, white executives, and white- their platforms to inspire change here in my hometown. owned sponsors profiting hand-over-fist, while Black play- Durham is a city of champions. How can our athletes ers sacrifice their bodies and lives for entertainment. You and institutions embrace that responsibility and leversee these structures in the NBA and the NFL, but we also age the power that comes with it? How can we disrupt see them right here in Durham, through the NCAA. Gift- the plantation model and build one that centers equity ed, young Black teenagers play sports for free, while the and humanity? staff gets full-time salaries, the coaches get millions, and The Bucks have cast off their dehumanizing brand and the NCAA rakes in billions. The more money at the top, stepped into their full humanhood. the more white it is. The strike moved me to tears. W INDYweek.com
September 2, 2020
PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
15 MINUTES Brad Broadway, 36, and Adrienne Schoendorf, 35 How to get married during quarantine using witnesses from Reddit BY SARAH EDWARDS firstname.lastname@example.org
Congratulations on the courthouse wedding! How did you meet?
What was it like to ask for witnesses from Reddit?
BRAD: We met on the internet in Seattle, actually—on a dating app— which actually I think makes the Reddit witnesses even more interesting.
The post itself didn’t get a lot of popularity, but it got some comments from people from Durham who were like, “I work in the area” or “I’m fifteen minutes away if you need something.” The morning of, I hopped back on, and four of the people seemed easily accessible. Two of those people got back to us, and by the time we made it to the courthouse, they were waiting inside. Two of the sweetest people. It was the fastest I’ve gone from meeting someone to being on the verge of tears.
What was your first date? BRAD: Holy cow. The first date basically sealed the deal—for me anyways. We went to a restaurant, and toward the end of the meal, I got up to go use the restroom, and by the time I made it back, she’d paid the tab. And then when she goes to use the restroom, and I go outside to wait, and when she made her way down the stairs, she planted one on me. That was the first time I’d had anything like that happen to me. I was stunned.
Adrienne, is that your version of events? ADRIENNE: That’s pretty accurate, I was pretty forward. I liked him right away, and we had a terrific first date. I was excited to be able to surprise him by picking up the tab—I did think that was pretty baller. And yeah, I kissed him. I had excess confidence. We’ve basically not parted ways since.
Were you planning a big wedding before this? ADRIENNE: I don’t think either of us grew up dreaming about the perfect wedding. Like Brad said, this worked for us, and we’re not devastated about not having a traditional wedding. BRAD: It was pretty close to my perfect wedding. The whole thing cost $120. ADRIENNE: $110. 6
September 2, 2020
ADRIENNE: It was very moving. I was really touched by the number of strangers that would respond to this random freaking request on the interwebs to help out some strangers in love. Being new to the area and not knowing anybody, I was like, “People are here to meet and greet and wed us? This will go fine.” BRAD: I got several DMs afterward from people asking how it went. I don’t know if the witnesses can be considered ambassadors of the internet or Reddit or Durham, but regardless, they were such phenomenal ambassadors of the world at large during an otherwise difficult year. 2020’s been rough.
What do you love about each other? BRAD: Oh goodness. Look—she’s smart and gorgeous and funny, and that combination makes me realize that I’m swinging way above my weight class. ADRIENNE: Brad is handsome and clever and sweet and kind and takes great care of me. We take great care of each other, I believe. He’s someone I’m excited to grow old with. W
niversities across the country are opening despite the ongoing pandemic. Two Triangle schools, UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State, decided to go virtual after hundreds of cases erupted among students. UNC began its online classes August 19; NC State joined five days later. To combat this, both universities asked students to desert the dorms unless they had good reason to
BY CLAIRE PERRY, ANN GEHAN, AND ANNA MUDD
stay. Despite the switch, cases are still being reported: The INDY counted 31 reported clusters at NC State and 14 at UNC. Despite these case counts, UNC recently announced they would no longer send cluster alerts through the Alert Carolina Emergency Notification system, saying it’s for “the most critical and urgent information.” They say this doesn’t diminish the importance of these announcements. W
UNC-Chapel Hill vs. N.C. State COVID-19 Positives 130 120
UNC-Chapel Hill N.C. State University UNC-Chapel Hill N.C. State University
(August 10, 2020–September 1, 2020)
N.C. State begins online-only instruction
Email sent to Carolina Housing residents asking that they cancel their housing contracts by August 25
Number of COVID-19 Cases
N.C. State pauses classes for two days N.C. State begins housing move out
80 UNC announces move to online-only instruction
UNC begins online-only instruction
N.C. State announces move to online-only instruction
30 20 10 0
Deadline for UNC housing cancellation
8/10 8/11 8/12 8/13 8/14 8/15 8/16 8/17 8/18 8/19 8/20 8/21 8/22 8/23 8/24 8/25 8/26 8/27 8/28 8/29 8/30 8/31 1. Eringhaus Residence Hall 2. Granville Towers
30. Sullivan Hall 31. Signature 1505 apartments
Housing Clusters at UNC vs. N.C. State (August 10, 2020–September 1, 2020)
14. Cobb Residence Hall
3. Sigma Nu Fraternity
25. Tucker Residence Hall 26. Wood Residence Hall 27. Beta Theta Pi Fraternity 28. Theta Chi Fraternity 29. Kappa Kappa Gamma Sorority
4. Hinton James Residence Hall 1. Off-campus house, 2700 block of Clark Avenue 5. Morrison Residence Hall 6. Zeta Psi Fraternity
22. Lee Residence Hall 23. Bowen Residence Hall 24. Kappa Alpha Fraternity
2. Alpha Delta Pi Sorority 3. Kappa Delta Sorority 13. Koury Residence Hall 4. Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity 5. Off-campus house, near Park and Bagwell Avenues
15. Bragaw Hall 16. Owen Hall 17. Metcalf Hall 18. University Towers 19. Valentine Commons 20. Uncommon Raleigh 21. Stanhope Apartment
7. Carolina Square Apartments 8. Carmichael Residence Hall 6. Sigma Nu Fraternity 7. Delta Gamma Sorority 8. Sigma Kappa Sorority 9. Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority
Key UNC-Chapel Hill N.C. State University
12. The Carolina Inn 12. Carroll Residence Hall 13. Standard Apartments 14. NC State Athletic Department
9. Craige Residence Hall 10. Alpha Delta Pi Sorority 11. Avery Residence Hall 10. Delta Zeta Sorority 11. Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity
September 2, 2020
A WE E K IN THE L IFE
Upcoming Virtual Events
Governor Roy Cooper allocates $175 million in COVID-19 relief funds for statewide RENTAL AND UTILITY ASSISTANCE.
NC STATE announces that it will close its dorms to students after a surge in COVID-19 cases. The school’s FOOTBALL PROGRAM also announces that the Wolfpack’s season opener against Virginia Tech will be postponed from September 12 to September 26. Over 800 students have tested positive for the disease, along with 36 employees, according to university reports. Students are asked to move out by September 6. RONNIE LONG, a Black man who had been wrongly imprisoned since 1976, is released from prison. Long was charged with the rape of a white woman and convicted by an all-white jury, but new biological evidence that was not seen during his original trial supported his long-standing innocence claim. Influential state representative DAVID LEWIS successfully pleads guilty to charges related to a scheme that allowed him to funnel campaign donations into a personal bank account.
A white 17-year-old who attended antiracism protests in KENOSHA, WISCONSIN as part of a white militia group is charged with multiple counts of homicide and attempted homicide. He is accused of shooting and killing two protesters—Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36—and injuring at least one more. The shooter, a police cadet whose social media accounts praised President Trump, was filmed that night freely walking past law enforcement while illegally open-carrying an AR-15-style assault rifle. Donald Trump officially accepts the Republican nomination for president at the end of an in-person REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION featuring unmasked, non-socially-distant crowds gathered on the White House lawn. The official nomination process took place in person in Charlotte on August 25 and led to four attendees TESTING POSITIVE FOR COVID-19.
All events are online. Register for Quail Ridge Books Virtual Events Series at www.quailridgebooks.com.
ANTIRACISTS MARCH IN RALEIGH to protest police brutality after the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Fourteen protesters are arrested for breaking a 10 p.m. curfew set by Raleigh mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin, and one is arrested for assault on a police officer.
(Here’s what’s happened since the INDY went to press last week)
Antiracism PROTESTS CONTINUE IN RALEIGH for a second night with fewer reported incidents of violence and no arrests. A similar protest in DURHAM also resulted in no arrests. Literary icon RANDALL KENAN dies at 57.
Friends and Fiction Happy Hour 7pm Laura Morelli The Night Portrait 7pm Jenna Bush Hager Everything Beautiful In It’s Time 8pm Jenna Bush Hager Everything Beautiful In It’s Time 1pm Jenna Bush Hager Everything Beautiful In It’s Time 6pm Bryant Simon The Hamlet Fire 7pm
North Carolina reports 1,051 COVID-19 CASES, bringing the reported case total to 166,127 since March. Cases spiked over the weekend thanks to the arrival of late test results to state recordkeepers from LabCorp.
Roy Cooper announces that he will EASE RESTRICTIONS on businesses implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19. NC STATE’S WOMEN’S SOCCER team opts out of fall 2020 competition. As of press time, the Atlantic Coast Conference still plans to proceed with fall sports like football.
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September 2, 2020
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OP - E D
UNC’s Twin Diseases The university system’s poor COVID-19 response is the natural outcome of its for-profit business model BY DON NONINI email@example.com
orth Carolina undertook a frightening, poorly planned experiment in August when wary parents drove their teenage children to University of North Carolina campuses to begin the fall semester in the midst of a deadly pandemic. Despite reassurances from UNC administrators about safety protocols, there is little doubt that the push for in-person classes was driven to a large degree by financial fears. A surge in COVID-19 cases in early August followed the return of 19,000 undergraduates to UNC-Chapel Hill, leading to the closing of campus to most students and a shift to online instruction after only one week of classes. Financial losses from the pandemic and a badly flawed “Roadmap” to open campus will be enormous. Similar openings followed by COVID-19 outbreaks, rapid re-closings, and financial losses occurred at NC State and East Carolina University. In a recent video, UNC Board of Governors (BOG) Chair Randy Ramsey said that “like any other business CEO,” his job is to tell everyone at UNC that they should prepare for 25–50 percent cuts, including layoffs of large numbers of faculty and staff. Mandates to prepare for cuts have come down to campuses from the BOG. When they seized control of the North Carolina government in 2010, Republicans vowed to turn the UNC System into a profitable business or degrade it when they could not. This “business model” is now foundering. What the BOG and UNC administrators leave out of their news releases is the role their business model has played in creating the current crisis. Beyond COVID-19, parents of UNC system students have experienced sticker shock from costs that have ratcheted up 87 percent since 2010, according to the Budget and Tax Center. The bill for an in-state student at UNC-Chapel Hill is now $24,300 for tuition, fees, room, and board. The hikes belie the provision in the State’s Constitution that higher education “as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.” In a state where the median family income is $54,000, this has forced many students into debt. The cuts are part and parcel of Republican devotion to shrinking government. In 2013, after winning a racially gerrymandered victory and getting Republican Pat McCrory elected governor, conservative majorities in the NC House and Senate rammed through regressive income 10
September 2, 2020
“The UNC ‘business model’ amounts to a scheme to squeeze revenues out of the families of its student ‘customers.’” and corporate tax cuts and increased sales taxes in a reactionary assault on ordinary North Carolinians. Despite publicly bemoaning high taxes, Republican legislators increased average income taxes for the bottom 80 percent of taxpayers while cutting taxes for the top one percent of NC residents by an average of $940,000. They failed to close tax loopholes for the wealthy and increased sales taxes which most heavily impact low-income residents. They eliminated the state’s Earned Income Tax Credit, harming the poorest citizens, while reducing the corporate income tax rate from 6.9 percent in 2012 to 3 percent by 2017—effectively providing their corporate donors with a 57 percent tax cut, according to a 2013 Budget and Tax Center report. As a result, state government revenues declined by $1.5 billion by 2015, the BTC reported. Because the effects of tax cuts worsen over time, in 2019 alone the state government lost $3.6 billion in revenues. The cumulative cuts have produced an astounding $12 billion in lost revenues since 2013, BTC director Alexandra Sirota wrote in a July 27 email. These effects played out as “management flexibility” cuts imposed on UNC campuses by the BOG between 2010 and 2015, amounting to almost $680 million. UNC employees’ wages and salaries have declined in real terms (except for administrators), programs have been closed, and some of the system’s most gifted faculty have left for more attractive positions elsewhere. State funding per student declined 11 percent over the same period. The UNC “business model” amounts to a scheme to squeeze revenues out of the families of its student “cus-
tomers” and has been especially harmful to poor students and students of color. It creates an unbearable burden on young adults, as many students have taken on debt or full-time work to pay tuition bills. The COVID-19 pandemic now threatens the viability of UNC’s business model. UNC-Chapel Hill’s “Roadmap” for reopening campus, which defied recommendations from local health officials, proved to be a public health disaster (with 1,100 COVID cases at press time), and its human and financial costs are still mounting. Recent openings of the other UNC System campuses to more than 220,000 undergraduates are similarly predictable debacles. What to do now in the midst of the pandemic? First, on November 3, voters must throw out the free-market ideologues in the North Carolina General Assembly who don’t know the meaning of public education, and they must elect responsible lawmakers who will act in the public interest, not as plutocrats’ mouthpieces. They must rescind the huge tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest families, as well as regressive sales taxes, to undo the massive damage already done. The goal over the next decade should be to build a more equitable tax system to support higher education, and reduce tuition and fees while forgiving or restructuring student debt to make access to higher education accessible for all. The new government in Raleigh should create (or demand federal support for) relief packages for UNC campuses facing COVID-19 budget crises. The UNC System should be given access to the state’s $1.2 billion rainyday fund to meet funding shortfalls at smaller campuses and those historically serving Black and American Indian students. The two campuses that hold multi-billion-dollar endowments (UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University) should draw on those funds to bridge their budgets until the COVID-19 crisis abates. The pandemic makes clear that the free marketeers’ fealty to for-profit education is a chronic disease afflicting the UNC System. The therapy is obvious. It’s time to rescue public higher education from the hostile forces arrayed against it by voting for change. W Don Nonini is a professor of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
N E WS
Dirty Rush Giant parties are part of Greek life recruitment, and nothing will stop them—including a pandemic BY SARA PEQUEÑO firstname.lastname@example.org
n August 4, the day after students returned to UNC-Chapel Hill, the door of an off-campus house opened and the sidewalk was flooded with two dozen girls going out together. They were dressed to be seen— outfits mulled over between friends, long hair brushed down their backs, $500 Golden Goose sneakers prescuffed and graffitied to make them look lived-in. There was only one accessory missing: Despite the ongoing pandemic and strict rules put out by the university, none wore masks. The girls strolled side-by-side, shouting and giggling as they ignored their neighbor standing in her driveway, phone in hand. The video of their Chapel Hill parade was soon circulating on Twitter, spurring criticism of the lack of face coverings and social distancing and concerns about what even-less-safe party they were heading to. In retrospect, it was just the beginning. The video was quickly tied to Chi Omega, the oldest sorority at UNC-Chapel Hill. The next day, an emergency meeting of the Faculty Executive Committee convened to discuss concerns, and the video made its way to CNN after the school announced it would shift to remote learning August 17. But the Greek life parties didn’t stop then. The next weekend, UNC’s Beta Theta Pi and Zeta Psi chapter houses were cited by Chapel Hill police for holding large parties with loud music. Two weeks later, the school announced that Zeta Psi had a cluster—an outbreak of five or more cases. Parties were also reported at Phi Gamma Delta and Phi Delta Theta. Two members of Phi Delt, Duwe Farris and James Dohlman, were charged with misdemeanors. On August 29, a UNC student filmed groups of women going into Pi Lambda Phi fraternity, the house next to Zeta Psi. The student, who shared the footage on Instagram, says he saw almost 40 people enter the house. When the video got back to fraternity members, they tried to explain themselves to the poster (who wishes to remain unnamed after receiving threatening text messag-
A fraternity at UNC–Chapel Hill
PHOTO BY JERRYE & ROY KLOTZ, MD
es) and claimed there was “nowhere close to 40 girls in the house last night and there was no party occurring.” “We brought a couple of close friends who are girls over to meet some of the potential new members and that is it,” the Pi Lam member wrote in texts reviewed by the INDY. In a typical year, the first ragers of the semester are centered around Greek life recruitment; “potential new members (PNMs),” or those attempting to join a Greek organization, will jump from party to party at the fraternity houses to meet brothers. Sorority women use the fraternity houses for recruitment, too; PNMs show up to the party and end up speaking to groups of women in the same organization. None of these are “official” recruitment events and could lead to fines every year; they’re also a yearly tradition for the school’s most elite organizations. But this year isn’t a typical year. Greek life isn’t pandemic-proof, and a recruitment process that thrives on face-to-face interaction (as well as alcohol and drugs) quickly created a breeding ground for the coronavirus. UNC-CH’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life— which helms the Interfraternity Council (IFC), Panhellenic Association, and two multicultural Greek councils—rushed to make a decision on recruitment the week the university announced its plans to reopen. On July 1, Panhellenic opened its recruitment registration. The IFC posted its registration information on July 21. The two Greek councils were supposed to hold “virtual rush,” where sorority or fraternity members would hop on a Zoom chat to meet potential new members. The
university says this plan was outlined June 30 but not presented to the councils until August 3, the same day students officially began moving into dormitories and the day before the Chi Omega party. But like the annual illusion of “dry” rush, “virtual” rush was only a solution in theory. Students told the INDY that there were still off-campus parties, dinner events, and other in-person opportunities to meet the brothers. These groups depend on recruitment to repopulate after seniors graduate each spring. At schools like UNC, a pledge class could include up to 50 new members, depending on the organization. Since UNC-Chapel Hill typically recruits in the fall, the organizations budget for the influx of tens of thousands of dollars that comes with a new pledge class. The organizations need these finances to pay their housing staff, upkeep the house, and pay fees. This money also pays for parties and mixers. Aside from finances, recruitment is a means of maintaining an organization’s tier—their spot in the social hierarchy of the school’s Greek system. This not only affects their time at UNC-CH but stretches into the real world. The Hussman School of Media and Journalism is named after a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. Dean Smith’s son, Scott, was a DKE too. At NC State University, this process for recruitment led to 13 reported COVID-19 clusters in Greek housing, more than a third of all outbreaks on campus. As of this week, more than 800 students tested positive for the virus and another 1,000 remain quarantined due to potential exposure. UNC, by comparison, reported that 1,100 students have tested positive so far. INDYweek.com
September 2, 2020
But fewer UNC-Chapel Hill cases have been associated with Greek life, or at least, that’s what has been reported. Only Zeta Psi, Sigma Nu fraternity, and Alpha Delta Pi sorority have reported clusters to the university. While the numbers are lower, Chapel Hill students report that friends and classmates are circumventing the school’s records by getting tested off-campus, then failing to self-report these cases. Other students left campus for their hometowns and got tested there. The university administration is aware of this. In an August 25 email, Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Amy Johnson sent a letter to all members of UNC fraternities and sororities reminding them that noncompliance could result in legal trouble. “We have also received reports of fraternity and sorority members being discouraged by their chapters from testing to avoid quarantine or isolation measures in the event of positive results,” Johnson wrote. “These practices cannot continue and jeopardize the health of not only chapter members, but peers, family members, and people in the local community. We expect and require your collective leadership and action to ensure that all requirements are being followed.” NC State’s administration has expressed similar frustration with its Greek organizations. In the school’s email announcement about switching to remote instruction, Chancellor Randy Woodson blamed the campus spread on large parties and said the school had seven Greek houses quarantining at the time. Some feel the COVID problem is just the tip of the Greek life iceberg and believe it’s time for the organizations to disband. Pushback against Greek life is growing, and students are sharing stories of discrimination and harassment anonymously through an Instagram page called @abolishNCSUifcandpanhel. The page also shares screenshots from group messages of fraternity members inviting members of different sororities to “COVID positive parties” and rush events. NC State’s recruitment process is still up in the air. On August 27, the school’s Fraternity and Sorority Life Department sent an email telling members that IFC and Panhellenic recruitment would begin September 18. They do not say whether it would be held in person or online. “The response was far too slow, and to be honest I haven’t seen a sizable response yet,” says fraternity member Thomas Walsh. “Administration takes time, but this was a situation where I hoped the university would have immediate responses to immediate problems.” W 12
September 2, 2020
A TALE OF TWO SIGNS Want to know how gentrification in Durham works? Just read the signs. BYMCDONALD THOMASI MCDONALD, P. 14 BY THOMASI email@example.com
neighbors who no longer look like them. They are selling their homes to developers and individuals for above, but not far above, market value. The second kind of sign represents a shift in who lives in the inner city and what that means. Moreover, it represents the developers or wealthy individuals who buy these houses, renovate them, and sell them at prices that far exceed what the original owners received or can afford. Affluent whites of the sort who fled to the suburbs during the 1960s and 1970s now want to live near downtown, especially faced with Durham’s housing shortage elsewhere in the city. And so Black residents are being shunted off to exurbs. This is the inverse of 20th-century white flight, when white people fled racially mixed urban regions, leaving them impoverished, for suburbs and exurbs. Now, instead, we have gentrification, where white people are fleeing the suburbs and exurbs for racially mixed urban regions, enriching them—but not to the benefit of longtime Black residents. But it didn’t have to be this way, and it still doesn’t if the political will to address it at the city level can be found.
wo different kinds of for-sale signs have been popping up in a traditionally Black Durham neighborhood in the shadow of downtown, and they neatly illustrate the forces that are turning such neighborhoods white. The first kind is a red-and-white placard made of hard plastic, like the one in the front yard of a bungalow on the 100 block of Lodge Street in South Durham. The home’s gray exterior shingling is starting to buckle. The handsome charcoal-gray Cadillac Coupe DeVille parked in front is
missing a license plate, and the grass is growing tall in the sloping backyard. A cute little toddler stands in the doorway next to a pitbull puppy. They are both smiling and are the same height. When a prospective buyer arrives to ask about the home, a teen boy comes outside and tells the buyer to call the number on the for-sale sign. The home, built in 1925, has an estimated value of $156,200 and is listed for sale at $289,000. The second kind of sign is more professional-looking, like the one that sits a few blocks away, in front of a two-story Crafts-
man home with a white picket fence at the end of the 200 block on West Piedmont Street. A man, who is arguing with his girlfriend, stops to tell the INDY that the home’s former owner attended Howard University but put the home up for sale because of crime and gunshots in the neighborhood. This home, built in 2017, is on sale for $448,789. The first kind of sign represents the forced exodus of working-class African Americans from the inner city, driven by skyrocketing property taxes, an influx of new homes that are far beyond their financial reach, and
he current gentrification of Black neighborhoods in Durham may well be even more insidious than the urban renewal programs that displaced thousands of Black homeowners and hundreds of Black-owned businesses more than half a century ago. In 1962, voters approved an $8.6 million bond referendum to finance water, sewer, and street improvements in the Hayti district. The goal, per recommendations by UNC-Chapel Hill’s Department of City and Regional Planning, was to clean up and modernize 200 acres of Hayti to improve the city’s tax base and make room for the planned east-west expressway. The referendum won tremendous Black support in the face of white detractors who “take delight in keeping a Negro section of the city a blighted area where they have the delight of looking down or turning up their noses at Negroes,” as Louis INDYweek.com
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Austin, the legendary publisher and editor of The Carolina Times, wrote. Urban renewal at least held out a promise to improve the quality of life in Black communities, though it was never fulfilled. But forces of gentrification today hold no such promise in struggling neighborhoods where wealthier white newcomers who want to live near downtown are buying homes in formerly all-Black enclaves, driving up property taxes to levels older residents can’t afford. Nor, after selling their homes, can they afford newly refurbished ones that often sell for $250,000–$500,000. Even when Black and Brown members of the city’s working-class garner pre-approved housing loans, they are easily outbid for homes in their neighborhoods by more affluent newcomers. As a result, realtors are increasingly directing them to towns like Graham, Mebane, Butner, and even Henderson, where they can purchase more home for their money. The anger and frustration felt by Black residents who are being priced out of the city is understandable. History is alive in the Bull City. Old-timers eagerly share archival documents and film footage of the traditionally Black Hayti district south of downtown, while a new generation has declared its intent to rebuild
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“Black Wall Street” as it was when the Black community’s commerce and quality of life earned the praise of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, who rarely agreed on anything. Cynics say it took Japanese people less time to rebuild a country ravaged by two atomic bombs than it has to rebuild Hayti. Gentrification in hardscrabble Black communities was inevitable after a long series of broken promises: the federal government reneging on granting Black freedmen 40 acres and a mule at slavery’s end, redlining at the onset of FDR’s New Deal, and the proposed urban renewal that had its start in 1949 and 1954, when Congress authorized federal funding for urban slum clearance and new construction. In Durham, that new construction was conspicuously absent, save for the eastwest expressway that cleaved the heart of 200 acres of Hayti, perhaps destroying it forever. Community organizer Lamont Lilly, whose activism and political life were chronicled in the INDY last week, calls the white homeowners who have arrived from all over the country to buy homes along the Fayetteville Street corridor “colonizers” with little regard for how their presence is uprooting a community that has been cheated out
of a fundamental birthright: the sanctuary of a home. “Trust me,” he says, “families are being destroyed.”
ast month, Carmen Williams was among the city planning commissioners who voted unanimously to not recommend rezoning requests for the proposed development on nearly 900 homes in North Durham’s traditionally Black Braggtown community. Before casting her vote, Williams chastised a representative of one of the developers, who made a last-minute offer of $100,000 to be split by the city’s affordable-housing fund and the Braggtown Community Association, whose members shared their concerns about being forced out of neighborhoods that were settled by freedmen who had labored at the Stagville plantation about 10 miles away. “You see opportunity, but you don’t see options,” says Williams, who wondered why the funds could not be used to create more affordable homes. “You don’t see the community. More and more people everywhere have decided they can’t be bought.” It did not have to be this way, and preserving the Hayti district could have had an enormous citywide impact.
N.C. Central historian Jerry Gershenhorn writes in his biography, Louis Austin and The Carolina Times, that before urban renewal, “Durham’s planners argued that Hayti was an ‘economic and esthetic drag’ on the city, and a detriment to ‘public health, safety, morals and welfare.’” Gershenhorn adds that in contrast, many Blacks viewed Hayti, with its 4,000 homes and 500 businesses, “as a vibrant though poor African American community which suffered because of overcrowding and inadequate housing” that was supposed to revitalize the substandard housing in much the same manner as gentrification is doing now. Henry McKoy, who is director of entrepreneurship at N.C. Central’s business school, previously told the INDY that the loss of Hayti is incalculable. “We are talking about literally billions of dollars in lost economic value for the Hayti community that could have resulted from expanding as the macroeconomic landscape expanded,” McKoy said. “Black Durham was denied the economic standing that it had built over the course of the century before the [east-west expressway] came through.” Working-class Black families throughout Durham’s urban core say they are now
targets of an urban land rush, besieged with unsolicited calls and visits to their homes from strangers who want to buy them out. And they are selling. Entire blocks of Black neighborhoods are now white: in East Durham, along Guthrie Street, on the 1100 block of Dunstan Avenue in South Durham, Walltown to the north, and pretty much all of the south side along the edge of downtown. Durham Housing Authority director Anthony Scott touts this as a success story because of mixed-income development, as opposed to herding low-income residents into a neighborhood destined to be bedeviled by poverty and crime. Success for whom, though? There’s a trundle-down complex on Fargo Street where two townhomes are priced at more than $150,000, and a single room farther up the street is renting for nearly $800. Nate Baker is an urban planner and a senior associate with Clarion Associates in Chapel Hill. He also serves on Durham’s city planning commission. He says the inner city and who gets to live there is being redefined in Durham and in similar cities across the country. “For decades, the inner city typically referred to historic residential neighborhoods where low-income, Black, and working-class people lived,” he says. “But the inner city also encompassed neighborhoods that were walkable, close to transit, and near services.” These areas, he added, were “notorious” for both public and private disinvestment, but as investment shifted to downtown and market preferences shifted toward walkable places, the inner cities that whites once fled became the natural locations for revitalization. Baker understands the longtime residents’ frustration and anger. “Gentrification now means that any efforts to make neighborhoods better threatens the ability of low and middle income residents to remain where they are,” he says. “Imagine the injustice of living in neighborhoods neglected by society for decades only to be forced out of your neighborhood by the very investments that residents needed all along.”
ya Shabu is a dancer and writer who recently purchased a home that’s undergoing renovations in East Durham’s Hyde Park neighborhood. The married mother of two is the founder of Whistle Stop Tours, with stops in storied African American neighborhoods. “I am seething,” Shabu said last week while walking along West Pettigrew Street,
where she is creating a new tour that will explore Black Durham’s involvement with the Green Book. Shabu walked past the BullHouse, a luxury apartment complex near the intersection of Fayetteville and Pettigrew Streets, where white tenants walked in and out. The rear of the impressive housing complex straddles Jackie Robinson Drive. The apartments that rent between $1,300 to a little over $5,000 are far beyond the capability of people who have lived in the community for decades. Shabu is also frustrated because of what used to occupy the sprawling stretch of land where the building sits. There was the Blackowned Biltmore Hotel, a glittering jewel in the crown of the old Hayti district, which was called “the finest Negro hotel in America.” It shared space along Pettigrew Street with bars, restaurants, gas stations, a drugstore, dry cleaners, a theater, and The Carolina Times before it was burned to the ground in the late 1970s in a suspected arson. “We can pretty much predict where Black people will be economically twenty to fifty years from now,” says Shabu, who calls gentrification in Durham “Black erasure.” Baker says a question that’s not asked enough is, “To where are gentrified residents being displaced?” “The answer to that question is ‘further away,’” he says. “Further away from jobs, transit, services, and quality-of-life opportunities. In Durham it means the poorly serviced exurbs, where the cost of travel is higher. To the county. To Graham or Burlington.” Vanessa Mason-Evans, who lives in North Durham, echoes Shabu’s unease. “It’s like they are trying to erase all of the Blacks out of the communities where they have dwelt for years,” she says. “It’s like they want us back on the plantation, but in a different way.” Mason-Evans is the chair of the Braggtown Community Association. At slavery’s end, her family arrived in Braggtown from plantations in Chatham and Granville counties. The family worked hard and bought more than 10 acres of land in the neighborhood. Today, her family members own homes, a convenience store, and a gray concrete building on the land purchased by their forebears. For nearly 20 years, Mason-Evans has dreamed of transforming the building into a small business mall. She envisions an organic fruit and vegetable market, a barbershop, ethnic-flavored restaurants, a nail salon, and a tailoring shop. “We have had dreams for years for what it would look like,” she says. But Mason-Evans and her family have repeatedly been denied loans needed to develop the property.
“There was always a reason why we couldn’t qualify for a loan,” Mason-Evans says. “One time it was our credit score. Then it was something else. Then they told us if we did this thing, or that thing, we could qualify. We just gave up.” Mason-Evans thinks her application would have been approved if she were white. “I know it would have made a whole lot of difference,” she says. “Blacks have a harder time getting loans, and I think it’s a way to deter you. Then it becomes a challenge to replenish finances and just trying to hold onto what you have, and that’s with a lot of Black people.” Baker says the private sector and real estate capital monopolize the building of cities that does not contribute to healthy, “truly just and democratic society.” But the public sector—particularly local government—has “an incredibly powerful tool” in its arsenal: the power to regulate real estate through zoning that has had a well-known history of dividing people by race and class. Durham’s zoning and subdivision regulations make up the city’s Unified Development Ordinance; Baker calls it “the rules, or DNA, that shape the urban form.” He and his fellow members have lobbied for double the amount of sidewalks in new developments, along with making them more transit-accessible and green sustainable. And he says there is much more work to be done beyond “tweaks, or even comprehensive overhauls to our planning systems and regulations.” Baker points to tangible actions that include local government support of neighborhoods that are resisting the efforts of “well-capitalized developers and unyielding, racist market forces.” Baker also thinks the city needs a more institutionalized system of neighborhood planning, where residents are engaged by planners and organizers to create a vision of their community that calls for “new policies, regulations, programs, and metrics to achieve that vision.” Finally, Baker says the city needs a system to address controversial large-scale development projects. He suggests that the city or a consultant hired by the city should conduct a charrette process with developers, impacted residents, and other stakeholders, “so that there is a fair mediation that can help all parties achieve the best development.” “Our planning system shouldn’t be a regime that greases the wheel for real estate capital,” Baker says. “It should work endlessly to achieve a humane and democratic city, inspired equitably by residents.” W
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September 2, 2020
No Justice, No Peace WORDS + PHOTOGRAPHY BY JADE WILSON
A street action organized by the Raleigh community took place downtown on Friday, August 28. This march was in solidarity with justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man shot and seriously injured by a Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer. The energy of the crowd was fueled by the previous nightâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s news that Wake DA Lorrin Freeman will not be filing charges for the killing of Keith Collins, after which Mayor Baldwin set a 10:00 p.m. curfew for the weekend. W
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M U SIC
Casey Toll with his trusty Fender P Bass
PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
From Whom the Bass Tolls Meet the unsung hero of the Triangle’s indie-Americana vanguard BY BRIAN HOWE firstname.lastname@example.org
uick, what do H.C. McEntire, Skylar Gudasz, Jake Xerxes Fussell, Nathan Bowles, The Dead Tongues, Josh Kimbrough, and Blue Cactus all have in common? The obvious answer is that they’re some of the Triangle’s most notable artists working at the crossroads of indie rock and Americana. The less-obvious answer is Casey Toll. Over the last eight years, the 33-year-old Durham bassist has lent his discreet but distinct style to records and shows by all of them and more. Most recent was Eno Axis, where Toll’s wide, welling intervals lend majestic scale to McEntire’s tangled art-country lowlands. Before that was Cinema, where his dark, oiled tone fits perfectly with Gudasz’s chrome-and-moonlight sound. But really, Toll has a way of vanishing into records. His parts help songs stand out without standing out themselves, and he’s sought for the warm but laconic presence that infuses his playing. Though his name has never graced an album cover, his placid patience almost subliminally runs through a rich vein of local music. He’s the Triangle’s secret timekeeper, and it’s time we learned what makes him tick. 18
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Tall and squarely built, with a soft, faintly bemused smile, Toll is too modest for a flashy origin. He grew up in Wilmington, where he started playing electric bass because all his friends had electric guitars, and somebody had to “bite the bullet.” In middle school, he played at skateparks in a punk band called Eat Shit and Die. In high school, he was entranced by the high-concept indie rock of the early 2000s—Modest Mouse’s The Moon & Antarctica, The Flaming Lips’ The Soft Bulletin—but he also earned a little weekend scratch as a bassist for hire in “cheesy cover bands playing beach bars.” “I feel like there’s always a need for bass players, which is kind of evidenced by why I picked it up,” he reasons. All the while, he was also learning acoustic bass, first in school orchestra, then under the mentorship of jazz bassist Herman Burney, who was a friend of his parents. This was Toll’s path to UNC-Chapel Hill, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in music with an emphasis on jazz performance. He started to emerge on the local scene as he finished school near the end of the 2000s. He hung around Nightsound Studios in Carrboro, doing session work for jazz and folk musicians. He got hired onto tours by Dallas country singer Kristy Krüger and Brian Vander Ark from The Verve Pipe. Above all, he began his two most lasting partnerships. One is with Gudasz, now his longtime significant other, in an early indie-folk band called Harmute and on through her two eponymous records. The other is with McEntire, a collaboration that now spans her two eponymous albums and two Mount Moriah albums. Jeff Crawford is the original Mount Moriah bassist who handed the torch to Toll. “I don’t think I would have been nearly as quick to get a foothold in the music scene here without Jeff’s influence,” Toll says. “Learning his bass lines from the first Mount Moriah record definitely shaped my playing for the better.” Crawford, who has recorded at his studio with Toll many times since then, calls him “the ideal bassist—very technically sound, but always serving the song thoughtfully without seeking credit.” “He is definitely an unsung hero and never seeks out the spotlight, so it is overdue for him to receive it,” Crawford adds. Indeed, Toll never plays six notes where two will do, and he dispenses words just as judiciously, especially when talking about himself. It’s more enlightening to ask his friends and watch them chase him down long corridors of adjectives as if something essential about him were always just out of reach. Jenks Miller, the guitarist of Mount Moriah, calls Toll “a massively talented, egoless, giant, and giant-hearted guy,” while McEntire ventures “dependable, loyal, mellow, disciplined, and compassionate.” “He truly plays music for the playing of music,” she says. “He’s not interested in accolades or rubbing elbows up ladder rungs. He’s a gentle spirit, shy—he plays so emotionally yet also technically, tastefully yet also experimentally, and always in service to the song, not his ego.”
n the late 2000s, Toll was working as a booth attendant at a parking garage in downtown Chapel Hill where Miller often parked with a drum kit or amp in his backseat. Gradually, they began to make small talk about music. “Casey and I are both pretty shy,” Miller says. “I don’t think we knew each other’s names at first. He would squeeze his bass into the tiny parking booth to practice during his downtime.” In 2010, well before its anticipated debut album came out, Mount Moriah was offered a tour supporting The Indigo Girls. But Crawford, their bassist, was settling in to build Arbor Ridge Studios in Chapel Hill. McEntire had also gotten to know Toll while they were both playing in a concert based on Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. “We got on easy,” McEntire says. “It was obvious he had a hunger for music, that he was really talented and had this eager curiosity to put himself in new experiences.” The next time Miller found Toll in the parking booth, he asked him to join Mount Moriah for the second leg of the Indigo Girls tour. Like Crawford, Miller would leave an indelible imprint on Toll. “I’d like to think my specialty is finding a simple way to complement whatever else is going on,” Toll says. “I probably learned that from Jenks when I started playing with Mount Moriah, who emphasized the less-ismore approach—to be loud and present but not necessarily play a lot of notes.” Toll’s first album with the band was Miracle Temple in 2013, where he cautiously felt his way into McEntire and Miller’s well-established dynamic. But while they were drawing him out of his shell, he was expanding theirs. “Casey was still very withdrawn then,” Miller says. “He barely spoke at rehearsals, and Heather and I really had to work to draw him out. But his musical skill and work ethic were already there. Mount Moriah was writing music that referenced seventies rock and folk and later cowpunk stuff, and Casey had that down, but his jazz background helped push us out of our comfort zone. Heather and I are both largely self-taught. He could suggest chords or bridges we wouldn’t have considered in our intuitive mode of writing.” By the time of recording How to Dance in 2016, Toll felt more confident as a member of the band—someone who shaped its sound rather than just pulling it off. By then, it seems, he’d grasped what mattered in the music, what it fundamentally was. “One of Casey’s strengths is navigating a space between the root notes and Heather’s vocal melodies, which were always meant to be the focus of the songs,” Miller says. “This allows the arrangements to support
the vocals without requiring as much activity from the guitars. As a guitar player who likes space, that always made me happy.” That was the last Mount Moriah record to date, before McEntire released her two eponymous albums, Lionheart and Eno Axis, with a whole new band except for one steadfast person. “He’s been my rock and a best friend for a decade now,” she says of Toll. “Collaboration insists you operate vulnerably and without hesitation, it requests trust and accountability, it requires respect, and it engenders ultimate intimacy. At this point, our connection has moved well beyond a musical partnership: He’s a soulmate.”
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oll still does plenty of work for hire. Last year was largely occupied by touring with the rock band Strand of Oaks. He was also joining a piano player for a biweekly jazz gig at The Eddy in Saxapahaw until the coronavirus shutdown. He’s not too picky about his money gigs, and when he commits, he’s all in, whether it’s a self-released folk session or a big album on Merge. “Casey was always willing to work on any project, and no matter the level of prestige, he gave each project equal and thorough attention,” Crawford says. But playing with friends or friends of friends keeps him too busy to do much he doesn’t want to do. For instance, Blue Cactus, the cosmic country duo of Steph Stewart and Mario Arnez, originally had a third member, Nick Vandenberg, who wanted Toll for their self-titled 2017 record. Stewart and Arnez didn’t know him but admired his work with Mount Moriah and Gudasz. “He’s the type of player who shows up to the first rehearsal with charts he made for himself and hardly needs them since he has already internalized the music,” Stewart says. “Casey has the most gentle, clever approach to suggesting new ideas in a way that almost makes you believe you’re the one making the suggestion.” Josh Kimbrough, whose recent acoustic-guitar album, Slither, Soar & Disappear, was produced by Crawford, found the same balance of preparedness and freedom in Toll. “We knew Casey would bring a certain magic and X-factor to the recording,” Kimbrough says. “He knew the songs and the changes very well when he got to the studio. He brought in a palpable intensity. He was focused on getting inside of each song and finding the right feel. He added the perfect backbone and spontaneity.” Toll has three basses, two electric and one upright. His oldest electric bass, a 1970s Ampeg model called The Little Stud, has a rich local pedigree. If Toll remembers
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correctly, he got it for his first Mount Moriah tour after it had been baptized in many Chapel Hill bands by James Wallace and Wylie Pamplin. But over the last few years, Toll has been using a Fender P Bass with a jazz pickup more often. “I’ve always gone for a heavy, smooth tone,” he says. “I’m trying to get a little bit of a punchier sound, just based on some of the stuff I’ve been touring with. And The Little Stud is super heavy and hard to travel with.” He’s just as pragmatic about the laminate-plywood upright bass that Herman Burney found for him at David Gage’s New York shop more than 20 years ago. Toll doesn’t even know the brand name. He just knows how it plays. And basses are really expensive. “Also, I think it sounds great,” he says. “It was new when I got it, so the sound kind of continually opens up and feels more resonant, to me at least, as it gets older.” He used to stick to electric or acoustic depending on the session, but in recent years, he’s been mixing them up more. He mostly plays the upright with Nathan Bowles and Jake Xerxes Fussell, which befits their old-time context, and mostly plays electric with Gudasz, though McEntire’s latest record features both. These are the groups that Toll plays in rather than with. He appeared on Fussell’s prior two records, adding his musicological knowledge to that of the scholarly Southern folk and blues musician with the nimble Telecaster. Fussell, who calls Toll his “favorite bass player on planet Earth” as well as a “superb human being,” knows him well enough to glimpse something mischievous darting behind his mild façade. “Whenever he speaks, which is sort of seldom, it’s very quiet and sincere, and he makes direct eye contact, and often he’s sort of smiling, and you’ll think that you really need to listen to this heartfelt and tender story,” Fussell says. “But after you adjust your ears, you realize that what he’s telling you is a completely absurd narrative about how the behavior of a certain dragonfly he’s been observing in his backyard has been concerning him lately.” Through backing Fussell, Toll met banjoist Nathan Bowles, whose cerebral take on string-band music calls for someone who is both earthy and arcane. Toll joined Bowles on Plainly Mistaken, released to national acclaim in 2018. “Everyone has a different idea of a ‘musician’s musician,’ but I think myself and others enjoy playing with Casey because he strikes a very rare balance of studiousness and playfulness,” Bowles says. “Casey’s a real woodshedder, a dedicated practicer of his craft, but he’s also not bound by strict 20
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technique concerns or idiomatic restrictions. He uses his tools; he doesn’t let his tools use him.” But probably no one knows Toll better than Skylar Gudasz, after their creative, professional, and domestic lives have been mingled for so long. “It’s endlessly rewarding and of course also very difficult to work in creative collaboration with someone who you’re in a relationship with,” Gudasz says. “I don’t think it can work if you don’t both have the utmost respect for one another’s artistry, because you can’t lie to one another about anything. The creative relationship is kind of another partner in the relationship.” Gudasz says she trusts Toll’s ear even if they disagree, which they seldom do on creative matters. Instead of driving each other crazy as working musicians, they understand each other’s drives and habits. “Casey’s relationship to music is so encompassing, with such a complete technical mastery, but he’s also a very sensitive player, and it’s important to him to be both in tune with what the song is trying to do and also to generously listen to what the other players are trying to communicate,” Gudasz says. To date, Toll’s artistry is defined in relation to others, and at last, we asked him the question everyone asks him eventually: After all the records featuring Casey Toll, will we ever hear the Casey Toll record? “I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have those aspirations,” he says. “It’s part of my practice rituals to work on ideas I think could be something of my own. Sometimes they end up being incorporated into projects I’m working on. That’s just the way playing music with a lot of people is.” Gudasz points out that Toll’s mother is a professional painter, and she thinks this shaped his mindset about music, bifurcated between the professional and personal. “I think he grew up with this very realistic workingman’s approach to the practicalities of making a living as an artist,” she says. “And I think this also drove home that the art-making itself, and your relationship to your craft, is a very personal practice, almost outside of that—something I watch him engage in almost as a spiritual practice.” For Toll, it seems, that’s more than enough. If being the X factor on other people’s records is an impediment to developing something all his own, he’s characteristically calm and generous about it. “It would be [an impediment] if that was a huge desire that I felt like I was missing out on,” he says. “But I’ve been lucky to hit a sweet spot to play with a lot of people I care about, whose music I feel like is really important. I feel pretty comfortable adding what I can.” W
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Dr. Perry Kirch
Triangle Kids Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Jenny and Dr. Yvette
Signature Smiles Cary, NC— Archie Cook, Jr. DDS
Best AestheticiAn in the triAngle Bethany Burdine, Fuzzy Bee Waxing Studio
FINALISTS Christine Link, Wellville Massage and Healing Arts; Lindsey Westendorf, Smoothe LLC; Taylor Pearce, White Dahlia
FINALISTS Dr. Cheyne Ashline; Dr. Greg Barnes; Dr. Jessica Fay
Best couples therApist in the triAngle Club Pilates
FINALISTS Cecil Jeffrey R DDS; Dr. Debora Bolton, Bull City Smiles; Durham Pediatric Dentistry & Orthodontics; Gadol Family Dentistry; Laura A Parra, DDS, PA
Carole Cullen, MA, LMFT
Best Pilates Studio in the Triangle
FINALISTS Beth Newton, LCSW; Erin Bircher, MS, LPC, LCAS; Laurie Watson, PhD, MA, LMFT, LPC
FINALISTS Nu Image Surgical & Dental Implant Center; Riccobene Associates Family Dentistry; Russo Dentistry
Best DermAtologist in the triAngle Dr. Mark Fradin
Find A Way Fitness Best Gym in Wake County
FINALISTS Dr. Amy Stein Drumheller; Dr. Elizabeth Hamilton; Dr. Patricia Matheis
Dr. Adam Gries— Awakenings Health Best Acupuncturist in the Triangle
September 2, 2020
Signature Smiles Cary, NC—Archie Cook, Jr. DDS Best Dental Practice in Wake County
Best Gym in Durham County
Best hair salon in oranGe / Chatham County
Levin Jewish Community Center
Syd’s Hair Shop
FINALISTS Bull City CrossFit; Duke Health and Fitness Center; Triangle Rock Club—Durham
Best Gym in oranGe / Chatham County UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont
uncwellness.com/meadowmont FINALISTS The Coalition NC; CrossFit Local; Orange County Sportsplex
Best Gym in Wake County Find A Way Fitness findawayfitness.net
FINALISTS Burn Boot Camp – Holly Springs; Burn Boot Camp – Raleigh; Burn Boot Camp – Wake Forest
Best hair salon in Durham County Posh The Salon poshthesalon.com
FINALISTS Salon Povera; Spruce Hair Salon; Vent Salon
FINALISTS Lavish Beauty Lounge; Purple Coffin Hair Studio; to the woods
Best hair salon in Wake County Tone Hair Salon tonehairsalon.com
FINALISTS Caban & Co. Hair, Little Shop of Hairdos, Pinup Studio
Best martial arts stuDio in the trianGle Triangle Krav Maga trianglekravmaga.com
FINALISTS Lee Brothers Martial Arts; Phoenix One Taekwondo; Wah Lum Kung Fu of Raleigh
Best massaGe therapist in the trianGle Castle Frame, NC LMBT #16422 castleframe.com
FINALISTS Carole L. Pope, NC LMBT #12671; Eddie Summers, NC LMBT #5678; Suzie Bush, LMBT, NC #11399
Tone Hair Salon Best Hair Salon in Wake County
Oak City Sunless
Best Spray Tanning Facility in the Triangle
Best optometry praCtiCe in the trianGle Academy Eye Associates academyeye.com
FINALISTS Carrboro Family Vision; Holly Springs Eye Associates; McPherson Family Eye Care
Best peDiatriC praCtiCe in the trianGle Chapel Hill Pediatrics
Global Breath Studio Best Yoga Studio in Durham County
Best primary Care praCtitioner in the trianGle Dr. Sheryl Joyner
alliancemedicalministry.org FINALISTS Dr. Oscar Cornelio-Flores; Dr. Poorvi Shah; Dr. Susan Blackford
Best psyChiatrist in the trianGle
Dr. Matthew Conner
FINALISTS Capitol Pediatrics; Jeffers, Mann & Artman Pediatrics; Regional Pediatrics—Sutton Station
FINALISTS Dr. Erik Gustke; Dr. Ria Battaglino
Best pilates stuDio in the trianGle Club Pilates clubpilates.com
FINALISTS Barre-Up Raleigh; Blue Sky Pilates; InsideOut Body Therapies
Best spray tanninG FaCility in the trianGle Oak City Sunless
facebook.com/oakcitysunless FINALISTS Ghostbusters Mobile Tanning; Salon Serenity Spa; Silver Sky Organics
September 2, 2020
Best therapist in the triangle Jill Triana, MS, LPCS capcounselingraleigh.com
FINALISTS Chris Burner, LCSWA, MDIV, SEP; Erin Bircher, MS, LPC, LCAS; Erin Coleman, MA, LMFT-A; Danielle Partin, PA-C
Thank you for naming Dr. Adam Gries INDY Week’s
BEST ACUPUNCTURIST IN THE TRIANGLE! Helping his patients move past pain and suffering so they can enjoy more of life is Dr. Gries' calling and it's deeply appreciated that you allow him to be a part of your journey!
Dr. Adam Gries is a Doctor of Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture and a Transformational Life Coach. To schedule an appointment with him, in-office or virtual, please reach out today: 919.935.9832 or www.awakeningshealth.com. 8352 SIX FORKS RD., SUITE 203 RALEIGH, NC 27615
BILL BURTON ATTORNEY AT LAW Un c o n t e s t e d Di vo rc e SEPARATION AGREEMENTS Mu s i c 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
September 2, 2020
Best Women’s health practitioner in orange / chatham county Melinda Everett, WHCNP chapelhillobgyn.com
FINALISTS Amy Dixon, CNM; Dr. Joshua Hardison; Dr. Sonya Williams
Best Women’s health Best Women’s health practice in Durham county practitioner in Wake county Chapel Hill Obstetrics & Gynecology: Durham Southpoint chapelhillobgyn.com
FINALISTS Durham Obstetrics and Gynecology (OB-GYN) at North Duke Street; Durham Women’s Clinic; Women’s Birth & Wellness Center
Best Women’s health practice in orange / chatham county
Dr. Carter Gray arbor-obgyn.com
FINALISTS Dr. Cynamon K. Chawla; Dr. Nichelle Satterfield; Dr. Sonya Williams; Stacie Diette, CNM, WHNP
Best yoga stuDio in Durham county Global Breath Studio globalbreath.org
Chapel Hill Obstetrics and Gynecology
FINALISTS Durham Yoga Company; Hot Asana Yoga Studio—Durham; Threehouse Studios
FINALISTS Mosaic Comprehensive Care; UNC Horizons; Women’s Birth & Wellness Center
Best yoga stuDio in orange / chatham county
Carrboro Yoga Company
Best Women’s health practice in Wake county Mid-Carolina Obstetrics & Gynecology midcarolinaobgyn.com
FINALISTS Arbor ObGyn; Durham Women’s Clinic and Regional Midwifery; Kamm McKenzie OBGYN
FINALISTS Franklin Street Yoga Center; Loving Kindness Yoga School; Thousand Petals Yoga
Best yoga stuDio in Wake county YoBa Studio yobastudio.com
Best Women’s health practitioner in Durham county Melinda Everett, WHCNP chapelhillobgyn.com
FINALISTS Amy Dixon, CNM; Dr. Joshua Hardison; Kate Godly, PA-C
FINALISTS Cary Flow Yoga; Element Hot Yoga; Omni Yoga
FO O D & D R I N K
BLACK FARMERS’ HUB
1409 Cross Street, Raleigh | 919-796-4776 | facebook.com/TheJuiceTheClue
Fresh Start The Black Farmers’ HUB plants nourishing roots in the food desert of Southeast Raleigh BY SARAH EDWARDS firstname.lastname@example.org
n a recent Sunday afternoon, music filled the Black Farmers’ HUB as customers browsed wooden boxes of fruit and vegetables and shelves scattered with local honey, spice blends, sauces, grits, and grape juice. It was the grand opening of Southeast Raleigh’s newest grocery store at 1409 Cross Street—the latest venture from Demetrius Hunter and his partner, Priscilla Ngera— and the mood was lively. A group of masked customers sat in the corner of the store fanning themselves while in the adjoining room, a DJ booth livestreamed music from Nairobi, Kenya, where Ngera’s brother, Ezekiel Muthuki, aka DJ Muez, was playing a set. “The store opened at 1:00 p.m.,” Hunter says. “People started lining up at 12:45.” Southeast Raleigh is designated as a food desert by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The mission of Hunter’s new grocery is to make fresh food affordable to the community and support local farmers in the process. All produce and products are sourced from local Black farmers and businesses. Hunter has been distributing food in Southeast Raleigh since 2013, when he founded the community-based mobile market Grocers on Wheels, but his family’s connection to food justice and the land stretches back to the early-19th century. His great-great-grandmother, Ambert Turner Sanders, was born into slavery in 1836. Following the Civil War, she and her husband purchased a 39-acre plot of land in Johnston County, where they began a peach and plum orchard. Decades later, during the Great Depression, Hunter’s grandfather would travel to Raleigh to sell the farm’s produce, followed by Hunter’s father, Zelb, a World War II veteran who transitioned to selling vegetables full-time after retiring in 1980. Demetrius Hunter remembers riding around in his father’s truck as the pair made delivery trips around the city, watching his father build relationships with residents, often extending credit.
Black Farmers’ HUB
“Grocers on Wheels delivered to the same communities my dad did, and we still do that delivery service,” Hunter says. “And the brick-and-mortar was so important, especially during the pandemic.” Fresh food was a need 40 years ago in Raleigh, when his father was making those produce runs, and it continues now. Food deserts—defined as a community in which the poverty rate is 20 percent or greater, and in which 33 percent of the population lives more than one mile from a supermarket—are pervasive across the state. In 2014, there were at least 349 food deserts, a federal study revealed, and these days North Carolina ranks as the 10th-hungriest state in the country, with particularly high rates of food insecurity among children and seniors. Over the years, several major chains laid down roots in Southeast Raleigh only to close their doors. In 2012, two such stores shuttered—a Kroger on New Bern Avenue and one on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard—deepening area food insecurity. A Save-A-Lot opened in 2015 in the Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard space before closing in 2019. Alternative grocery models have helped fill the gap, including the Fertile Ground Cooperative, which hosts farmers’ markets and has been working since 2011 to establish a member-owned grocery store. In 2013, Hunter formed Grocers on Wheels alongside the public health advocate and performance artist Anita Woodley. The organization, a partnership with local farmers and Wake County Human Services, delivers produce and healthy baked goods directly to homes, senior centers, and social service providers. Since the onset of the pandemic,
PHOTO BY JADE WILSON
the group has delivered between 300–400 boxes of produce a week, Ngera says. “The hospitality industry was hit really hard by the pandemic,” Priscilla Ngera says, “and most of these chefs don’t have jobs. So we want to put it out there where we can help the community, and they can come and show their talent and also do a demo, as they also show people what we have in the store.” Food insecurity has been unforgiving during COVID-19 and will likely get worse as CARES protections expire. Emergency federal interventions have helped lessen the blow, but only temporarily. Hunter’s efforts, in contrast, will continue to build on the relationships his father and ancestors began, and create an organization with longevity that supports Black makers and builds community. Having a building to call home anchors those efforts, not unlike the plot of land in Johnston County did for Hunter’s family 150 years ago. Hunter and Ngera hope to run events in the new space, including cooking demos that feature one-pot recipes across the African diaspora, like Mukimo, a stew made with boiled potatoes and greens. They also have a vision of hiring young people to work with them and carry on the mission. Ngera’s 17-year-old daughter, Immaculate Wanjiku, does much of the grant writing and marketing for the grocery. On opening day, she was busy showing customers around the store, and detailing where certain vegetables came from. “This is a part of our legacy and how it should continue on,” Hunter says. “But I want it to be above and beyond me, you know—bigger than me and my dad.” W INDYweek.com
September 2, 2020
S PO RTS
Love the Player, Not the Game How to be an ethical sports fan during professional basketball’s long-overdue reckoning BY LUCAS HUBBARD email@example.com
n March 11, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19. As night fell, all NBA games were suspended, and by week’s end, professional sports—in their traditional, spectator-heavy format—went on hiatus. In this vacuum, three scholars—Nathan Kalman-Lamb of Duke University, Derek Silva of Kings’ University College, and Johanna Mellis of Ursinus College—launched The End of Sport, a podcast exploring the myriad forms of injustice and inequality that are rampant throughout sports, including racism, sexism, colonialism, and jingoism. Since the podcast’s launch, sports have haltingly resumed, and as athletes have been shunted into isolated bubbles or forced to work without sufficient precautions, they’ve sounded off at an increasing volume. Following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, the Milwaukee Bucks went on strike, launching similar strikes in the NBA and WNBA, inspiring other leagues to pause competition, and stirring hopes of long-term action. The INDY spoke with Kalman-Lamb, who is the author of the book Game Misconduct: Injury, Fandom, and the Business of Sport, to make sense of the current moment, in which the games on TV can seem largely detached from reality—but the players’ actions are anything but.
INDY: How much of the evolution of sports since this spring—specifically, the disregard that leagues have shown towards athlete health—did you anticipate? NATHAN KALMAN-LAMB: I’m sorry to say not a single
event that has transpired has even mildly surprised me. The premise of my book is that, at the best of times, the entire business of high-performance spectator sport is based on the sacrifice of the athlete’s body: Fans only care enough to pay attention if they perceive the stakes to be life-or-death. That doesn’t mean fans want players to literally die, but they want players to play as if the import is such that they’d be willing to give their lives up. That’s what allows fans to generate the meaning that they derive from it—and the fan’s desperation for meaning has everything to do with the alienating conditions of capitalism—but that places a burden on the player. 26
September 2, 2020
The athlete has to do emotional work for the fan, and that work comes at inherent cost to the player. When their careers end, they just fall off a cliff. We’ve produced a system in our society that produces all this money and meaning, and there’s absolutely no mechanism to provide for and care for the people who do the work to sustain it. This is all pre-pandemic. Then we place it in this context of a health crisis, but none of the underlying factors have changed, and fans still require meaning, now either after being laid off or working in far more alienating circumstances. So the very conditions that made fans desperate for sport in the first place are exacerbated, and that puts this greater pressure back on athletes. If you think about it through that analytical lens, it’s clear as day why we would then see these athletes sacrificed during a pandemic. It’s what all these logical forces are conspiring towards. What does the NBA strike highlight about the power of collective labor action and the difficulties of meaningfully sustaining it?
I’ll focus on the NBA—although the WNBA has been the leading force of this movement—to make this point: NBA players are hard to recognize as workers because they are so well-compensated. They’re not in a factory making commodities, but they’re creating a “commodity spectacle,” and because they help create it and don’t control it, they’re workers. What the NBA players did was create a spectacular, symbolic impact to send a message to their employer about the gravity of the situation in the United States, and also send a message to other workers across society about what is in fact possible. That the window has already shut disappoints me. I think NBA players have the ability—because they’re not replaceable as workers—to take a really profound stand that can embolden people with much less security. But things develop so fast. They don’t really have time to be organized in a deeply strategic and tactical way. That can
PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SUBJECT
create space for powerful mass explosions, but it can also allow for those explosions to be dispersed really quickly because there’s no organization within them. How can fans meaningfully support athletes and not just the more insidious elements of sport?
The power of consumers to cause change under conditions of capitalism, I think, is limited. And we sometimes mystify the larger social structure by imagining that fans have more agency than they do to counter the deeply dehumanizing effects of the system. But I don’t think, on an ethical level, we shouldn’t do the best we can to show solidarity to people who are being dehumanized. It matters on social media if you castigate a player for not playing through an injury hard enough or if you talk about how much you can’t wait for sports to be back. That does have an accumulative effect: The more that people see that represented around them on their streams, and the more that kind of fandom is modeled, the more it does contribute to this larger dehumanization of athletes as workers— the way we treat them not as people but as vessels for our desires. I’m not saying just extricate yourself from fandom. Fandom is a powerful force, and it provides a lot of meaning in our lives. But it is actually possible for us to be fans who show solidarity for the workers we are caring for, and to recognize who they are, and at the end of the day, prioritize that humanity and that politics over whether the team wins or loses. W
SC R E E N Left: Keith Knight with Woke actor Blake Anderson, showrunner Maurice Marable, and actor T. Murph Right: A prop from the Woke set PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SUBJECT
Anti-Black Is Evergreen Despite its apparent timeliness, Durham cartoonist Keith Knight’s new Hulu show, Woke, was decades in the making BY ZACK SMITH firstname.lastname@example.org
on’t call Keith Knight’s new TV show “relevant.” The Durham-based cartoonist co-created Woke, which premieres on Hulu September 9, with Barbershop screenwriter Marshall Todd. There’s a key moment in the pilot episode when Knight’s fictionalized counterpart, Keef (played by Lamorne Morris from New Girl), is mistaken for a suspect and knocked to the ground by gun-wielding police. Knight knows the scene echoes the horrifying and highly publicized police violence fueling recent protests. But to him, the point of the incident is its longevity, not its timeliness. “Literally, that incident happened to me twenty years ago,” Knight says. “Racism is evergreen in this country; police brutality is evergreen. It would be relevant at any time.”
Knight is a veteran cartoonist and a veteran chronicler of police brutality. His strips are available at kchronicles.com and in print collections such as They Shoot Black People, Don’t They?, which is also the title of his cartoon slideshow about race in America, for which he was named an NAACP HistoryMaker in 2015. Woke places the autobiographical and satirical elements of Knight’s cartoons in a magical-realism context. Keef is a successful San Francisco cartoonist who is about to get a lucrative syndication deal for a harmless strip called “Toast-N-Butter”—“If all goes poorly with this, at least I have a new comic strip I can launch,” Knight quips—when the police assault shatters his sheltered worldview. Suddenly, everyday objects appear to come to life, with faces resembling Knight’s cartoons and voiced by guests such as JB
Smoove and Tony Hale. They remind him of all the racism and inequality he hasn’t noticed in his day-to-day existence. As his roommate (T. Murph) puts it, he “got woke,” and now has to reconcile his desire for success with his newfound need to fight the problems of the world in his life and work. Knight says he worked for “about six or seven years” to develop his cartoons as a TV series, but ironically, he found success with the project only after he moved from Los Angeles to the Triangle in 2015. “The plan was move to down to LA, meet everyone who we needed to meet, get a deal, and then get out of town,” Knight says. “But the funny thing is, we got out of town, and then we got the deal. I think my producers were like, ‘Oh, he’s serious, he’s really leaving. We’ve got to do something to get this back on track.’
“It’s nice to be able to do it away from LA, so you’re not having to do the whole schmoozing thing all the time,” he adds. “It’s nice to have the fancy Hollywood call and then go outside and walk your chickens.” Knight is more than just the creator of the material behind Woke; he’s a producer and co-writer who does most of the art for the series. “They wanted me to help with stuff that went into the character’s apartment,” Knight says. “They had me look at all these costumes that people were wearing, the places where they were shooting. “In some ways,” he adds with a laugh, “it was a careful-what-you-wish-for situation.” During production, he divided his time between Durham, Vancouver set visits, and couch-surfing when he was working with the show’s writers in Los Angeles. Knight says it was worth it to maintain creative control. “I’ve seen enough cases where Hollywood’s taken someone’s work and changed everything, so if it was going to turn out to be a mess, I wanted to be the one responsible,” he says. Woke was filmed late last year and early this year, with Vancouver standing in for San Francisco. It wrapped on February 28, shortly before COVID-19 and the anti-police-violence protests that followed. Knight calls it a “perfect storm of everything.” “We were just like, ‘Oh man, the whole season is going to play out in the real world by next month,’” he says. “There’s gonna be plenty of people saying, ‘These guys just shot and filmed this thing over the past month, and they just used computer graphics to get rid of all the masks that they had to wear while shooting.’ I’m just sad that I won’t get to see it with an audience at a public screening and see how they react to it. Maybe season two.” W INDYweek.com
September 2, 2020
A RT Kennedi Carter PHOTO BY MAXIM VAKHOVSKIY
Art Heist Why Durham’s Kennedi Carter and a Black photographers collective didn’t want their work in a Whitney exhibit BY JAMEELA F. DALLIS email@example.com
ennedi Carter is a gifted art and editorial photographer who was raised in Durham. Her work, she says, “aims to reinvent notions of creativity and confidence in the realm of Blackness.” Carter’s photos have appeared in Bitch Magazine, Oxford American, The Photographic Journal, and Vogue Italia. She also photographed “The Squad,” the four women of color elected to the House of Representatives in 2018, for the September issue of Vanity Fair edited by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In June, Carter painted a Black Lives Matter mural in downtown Durham, and her first solo museum exhibition, Flexing / New Realm, runs through January at CAM Raleigh. In June, she also participated in “See In Black,” a print sale organized by a collective of Black photographers, including Joshua Kissi and Micaiah Carter (no relation to Kennedi), in response to the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless others at the hands of police. “I wanted to give people an opportunity who normally would not have access or the ability to buy something as expensive as an edition piece,” Kennedi Carter says. The collective formed to dismantle white supremacy and systemic oppression, and 100 percent of the sale’s proceeds benefitted “causes that align with [the collective’s] vision of Black prosperity.” 28
September 2, 2020
By selling $100 prints, the artists intended to raise money for worthy causes and make their work more accessible. But that generosity hardly needed to be extended to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, an institution with an endowment of more than $300 million. By purchasing discounted prints from a number of artists for a now-canceled exhibition, the Whitney demonstrated just the sort of exploitation that the collective was set against. Nationally and locally, artists and activists have been intensifying calls for systemic change in the art world to end practices that uphold white supremacy. Two recent petitions demanded changes at North Carolina arts institutions generally and CAM Raleigh and The Raleigh Fine Arts Society specifically. And Durham-based arts advocacy group Art Ain’t Innocent, along with concerned local artists and community members, recently held white photographer John Davis accountable for hawking a book of Durham Black Lives Matter murals called All/Black Lives Matter without consulting the artists. “It’s just another example of the colonization of Black art and Black artistic rioting— whiteness trying to make a profit off Black pain and Black experiences,” Carter says. It’s clear to Carter that this is what the Whitney did, too. “The Whitney is an organization with the means to buy art and took advantage of the fact that we were giving people that don’t have the means access,” Carter says. “When I received an email about it, they didn’t ask. They told us that it was going to be an exhibition, and they offered a free pass for just me and another person to go to the Whitney, like something you’d get at Carowinds.” In the email, a curator named Farris Wahbeh wrote that he was “so honored that the Whitney was able to acquire [Carter’s] work” and that her print “4ever luther’s” would be a part of Collective Actions: Artist Interventions in a Time of Change, an upcoming exhibition featuring “work by artists involved with collective projects that were organized in response to COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter.” When the See In Black collective and others called out the Whitney on social media for purchasing the art below market
value without consulting or compensating the artists, the museum didn’t acknowledge how its actions perpetuated systems and practices that harm Black artists. Instead, it canceled the exhibition and tweeted a lackluster apology: “We have heard the artists who have voiced their concerns. We apologize for how we handled the exhibition and the pain and frustration it caused.” “The apology was not an apology,” Carter says. “It was Farris and the museum that caused the pain—it wasn’t the exhibition. Had they done the exhibition the way they should have, we would have all been down, but they didn’t. It makes you think about the history of museums, as well as how they truly disrespect artists at times. They don’t realize that they need us as much as we need them, and some days, we don’t even need them. “It truly makes me think of what the world would look like without museums and if we made art public,” Carter continues. “If we made art this thing that wasn’t an elite space, a space that didn’t chew you up and spit you out and use you. How could we have spaces to collect art and give people access to these things and just get rid of the exploitative parts?” Carter says that when Kissi and others contacted Farris to explain to him that what he was doing was wrong, they found his response defensive and unsatisfying. “Whenever someone says, ‘I HEAR you and I’m listening’ just know it’s about to be followed up with some bogus energy,” Kissi tweeted. Carter doesn’t regret participating in the print sale, which she saw as part of “stepping up to do the work that the government just would not do.” But after the Whitney’s actions, she fears other artists may not participate in future sales—one, Gioncarlo Valentine, has already sworn them off on Twitter—and adds that, despite the cancellation, the museum still acquired the work. “Technically, they can show it all they want,” she says. Yet Carter remains undaunted. Of the Black artists who paved the way, she says, “They dealt with things like this and sat silent because they didn’t want to be blackballed. They opened the doors for me to say what I have to say.” W
September 2, 2020
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September 2, 2020
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September 2, 2020
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