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2013 saw a much needed discussion about race in many spheres of American. Particularly popular in the latter half of the year was the discussion of race in feminism a la #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, which also led to other discussions such as who counts as a woman of color and Asian American feminism (#NotYourAsianSidekick). And it’s a discussion that continues and reaches all parts of the country, including our own Tar Heel state.

None of this discourse might seem particularly new, but in a way, this discussion, among others regarding issues of race in America, is more needed than ever. Especially when we realize that America in general overestimates how diverse our country really is.
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WRAL reports that a same-sex couple Maj. Daniel Toven and Johnathan Taylor exchanged vows Saturday in a ceremony at Fort Bragg. While it wasn’t a wedding (prohibited by Amendment One), hope may yet to come soon, if the trend from New Mexico and Utah continues to the Tar Heel state.

Only a few days ago, New Mexico became the 17th state to recognize same-sex marriages.

Utah soon followed suit, with a federal judge ruling against a state constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. Thinkprogress has a breakdown of how the judge systematically tore down many of the arguments against marriage equality.

The events in Utah prompted one couple to get married an hour after the law was struck down. And dozens of couples soon did likewise.

Here in North Carolina, as NC Policy Watch has covered in a previous Crucial Conversation event, the ACLU has filed a lawsuit on behalf of six couples seeking marriage equality and second-parent adoption rights, challenging the state’s constitutional ban.

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When we look back at 2013, it’s not exactly something to write home about with things like restrictive voter id laws, refusal to expand Medicaid, and well, just a lot of stuff happening to public education that’s too many to list

But have hope. If Time’s 2013 Person of the Year is any indication of shifting attitudes, we may soon to see a landscape that’s less on the ideological/doctrinal “policing” and more on the doing and service for the common good.

And in fact, the folks over at Think Progress makes the the case that 2013 is to be the best year in human history yet.

And Race Forward doesn’t disagree that there are victories in 2013 to celebrate:

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No question that there continue to be social inequalities throughout the U.S. and the world, but people in general are more aware about it. Even though in media and advertising, for example, portrayal of women has created “destructive” ideals, there’s also been examples of advertising that at least tries to address problems of gender inequality.

And the GOP itself has recognized the importance of reaching out to minority groups such as the Asian American community, a rapidly growing electorate in Florida, Nevada, Virginia and North Carolina.

So all in all, things aren’t too bad. They could be worse. If these folks can forget their troubles for a second in their lives, I’m sure we’ll be able to carry on and work towards an even better 2014.

And… I’m not sure how this fits with anything, but I thought this cover of TLC’s “Waterfalls” was kind of cool:

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NC Policy Watch’s new feature “Your Soapbox” has garnered a lot of responses from educators across the state. We created this feature to let educators tell their first-person stories of experiences in their lives and the classrooms. Today we feature the submission from a special education teacher struggling to make ends meet:

“… I have lost weight because I cannot afford to buy food. I am not able to buy supplies for my classroom because I cannot afford to pay for anything.

I am ashamed to say I am a teacher because I have other bills that I cannot pay because I do not make enough money. I am just not understanding the logic behind the state in treating teachers as though they are 2nd rate professionals. …”

Read the rest of the teacher’s letter here.

For other submissions that we’ve already gotten, and for future entries, check out the “Your Soapbox” here.

We look forward to more educators, and you can submit a voice of your own here.

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In response to Democratic members of North Carolina’s Congressional delegation questioning why NC decided to discontinue operation of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, Governor McCrory sent an email to the offices of Representatives Butterfield, Price and Watt:

“Your letter incorrectly stated that North Carolina had decided ‘to discontinue the operation’ of the TANF programs. North Carolina, like other states, was able to use carry-over funds for the TANF programs during the shutdown. However, because of the dysfunction in Washington, even after two weeks, Washington still had not authorized federal funding or reimbursement of the states for state expenditures. North Carolina acted responsibly and notified the service providers that federal funding for Work First programs may not be available in November.”

Reps Butterfield, Price and Watt in turn responded with a letter today saying:

“Your assertion that you did not discontinue the operation of the TANF program is simply not credible. Your administration did not merely ‘[notify] the service providers that federal funding for Work First programs may not be available in November.’ The notice that your administration sent to county social services directors on October 10th (copy attached) expressly directed them to cease processing new applications for benefits ‘until federal funds become available.’ In addition, the notice stated unequivocally that the state would be ‘unable to make any Work First Family Assistance payments in November 2013′ absent congressional action.”

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