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News

By now, you’ve probably heard about the murders of three Muslim-American students from UNC Chapel Hill and N.C. State. If not, here is the background story from WNCN: http://www.wncn.com/story/28075915/shooting-reported-in-chapel-hill

There are calls over social media for donations to charities for which these students volunteered.

A vigil will be held 7 p.m. tonight at the Peace and Justice Plaza in Chapel Hill: at 6:30 p.m. in the Pit on UNC’s campus.
https://www.facebook.com/events/1541670396105857/

(Note that parking can be hard to find on campus, click here for a parking guide for the area.)

Some folks are also organizing vigil at UNC Charlotte:
https://www.facebook.com/events/1541670396105857

Commentary

Governor Pat McCrory will be giving his State of the State speech tonight at 7pm. What all will he talk about? The North Carolina Justice Center (a parent organization to NC Policy Watch) has put together some BINGO cards to keep you engaged.

One of the cards include topics that the NC Justice Center anticipate we will hear from the Governor on issues and policies that he supports, and the other include topics covering policies “we want to hear.”

Download these cards and tweet a photo of your progress and results to @ncjustice with hashtags like #SOTS, #NCGA, #NCGov and #NCpol.

SOTS BINGO_What We Want to Hear

SOTS BINGO_What We're Likely to Hear

PDF version here: SOTS BINGO

Commentary

The NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty reports that the number of exonerations have reached a record pace, with North Carolina in its eighth year without executions. However, the death penalty remains a threat to innocent people “sentenced to die on the thinnest of evidence,” many of whom have been incarcerated for more than 30 years before exoneration.

Cross-posted from the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty:

New death sentences in the U.S. reached a 40-year low in 2014, and North Carolina passed its eight year without an execution. But the most surprising statistics in the Death Penalty Information Center’s year-end report were these:

150 innocent people have now been exonerated after being sentenced to die.

Seven innocents were were freed just this year.

—[Read the whole post from NCCADP here]—

Six of the seven men exonerated this year had served 30 years or more in prison. All were sentenced to die on the thinnest of evidence. An Ohio exonoree was convicted 39 years ago, solely on the testimony of a 12-year-old boy who later recanted.

In North Carolina, nine death-sentenced men have now been exonerated, DPIC says.

The facts are in: The death penalty is a grave threat to the innocent and cannot continue to masquerade as “justice.”

Commentary

Asian Americans and Latinos are the fastest growing minority groups in the country. Particularly in North Carolina, Asian American population has grown more than 80% from 2000 to 2010 (see Advancing Justice’s recent report on the Asian American demographic in the South here), while Hispanic/Latino populations has grown more than 110%, according to the US Census. This growing demographic could have particularly important implications for politicians in the days to come.

Often headlines choose to highlight differences between Asian Americans and Latinos, focusing on language like “Asians overtake Hispanics as largest US immigration group” and reinforcing the “model minority” myth that effectively renders Asian Americans as a political tool against affirmative action.

Lost in translation is common history and solidarity that these communities have shared and common challenges they continue to face.

To bring to the forefront “real clear moments of collaboration between Asian-Americans and Latinos,” NPR’s Latino USA has put together a special report in the form of an hour-long podcast called “Hyphen-Americans.”

Particularly poignant in the podcast, editor-in-chief of Hyphen magazine (a publication focusing on Asian American issues) Abigail Licad summarizes some political collaborations among the Asian and Latino communities in the past including working together on labor movements in the early 20th century (among one of the most iconic collaborations being between Cesar Chavez and Larry Itliong) to collaboration in the undocumented youth movement in recent years.

Listen to the Latino USA podcast here:

News

While same-sex couples finally won the right to marry last week in North Carolina, a Catawba County school decided to cancel a student theater club’s production of the romantic comedy Almost, Maine, which has a scene in which two male characters fall in love.

Principal Rob Bliss of Maiden High School issued a statement on the matter. From WSOC:

“Our faculty and staff are still in review of potential performances to be conducted by our students this fall. At this time, no final decision has been made regarding whether and what drama performances are to be presented this fall. In regards to the request for students to perform the play “Almost Maine,” careful review and consideration was given to the contents of this play. The play contained sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.

“As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances is appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages.”

However, Conner Baker, a junior and the student director for Main Street Players, the school’s theater club, told ThinkProgess that both Bliss and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman had previously given permission for the production. ThinkProgress reports:

Baker told ThinkProgress that the Players had sought approval for Almost, Maine earlier in the school year, receiving it from both Principal Bliss and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman. Brigman and Bliss stipulated, however, that every student wishing to audition or assist with the production must receive parental permission to do so. The club then spent over $300 to reserve the rights and rent the scripts for the show, and followed through on this requirement. Only one student was prevented from auditioning by the permission-slip process. Baker said that the show had already been cast and was beginning rehearsals when the production was canceled last Thursday. She did not personally know who in the community objected to the play’s content.

An online petition started by the students in hopes of convincing the school to let the show go on has already garnered over 1000 signatures.

Is the scene involving the two male characters falling in love inappropriate? Here’s a clip from youtube of the play performed by a school in Florida: