Jennifer Brookland

Jennifer Brookland is a temporary producer for The State of Things.

Jennifer grew up in Baltimore, MD and studied International Politics and African Studies at Georgetown University. She spent four years as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in North Carolina and Maryland, and deployed to Djibouti and the Comoros Islands.

After earning her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University she contributed to News21, a national reporting project on transportation safety in America. She also interned at PRI’s “The World” and in Nairobi with IRIN, the United Nations’ humanitarian news and analysis service. She received a master’s degree in human security and NGO management from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Jennifer spent three years producing content for international development organizations in D.C, highlighting aid work in countries including Tajikistan, Haiti, Honduras, India and Tanzania. She moved to Durham in 2015 and began freelance writing, editing and producing. Now that Durham is getting an Ethiopian restaurant, she’s vastly more likely to stay.

 

For Juan Álamo, rhythm just comes naturally. He has a passion for percussion that surfaced when he was a little boy growing up in Puerto Rico. Juan parlayed that passion into serious classical study of the marimba, an instrument similar to a xylophone but bigger and with a deeper tone. In his recently-released album “Ruta Panoramica,” Álamo marries the Latin rhythms of his hometown with his classical training and a love of jazz to create a unique fusion sound not typically heard from a marimba. 

New abortion legislation is sweeping the country, with states introducing ever-more polarizing bills to constrict and expand access.

Growing up in turn-of-the-century Georgia, the Lumpkin children were steeped in a culture of white supremacy. The older girls performed in rallies for “The Lost Cause,” while their father took a direct role in the Ku Klux Klan. But the two youngest Lumpkin sisters, Grace and Katharine, veered well off the path their family had set for them. They became activists and authors who railed against racial and economic oppression.

In literature, film and popular culture, vegans have long been mocked and dismissed as naive, privileged white women who allow emotion to guide their lifestyles. Food choices are indeed shaped by class and race, but using a “vegan lens” to analyze what people see and read may allow them to better recognize these “enmeshed oppressions,” according to Western Carolina University English Professor Laura Wright. She’s the editor of “Through a Vegan Studies Lens: Textual Ethics and Lived Activism” (University of Nevada Press/2019). 

Nadja Cech grew up in a hippy community in Oregon, spending her days building fairy houses in the woods and drawing and collecting plants. So after she became a scientist— and an associate professor of chemistry at just 23 years old — it made sense to her to look to nature for some of our most pressing medical needs. 

Chuck Liddy stumbled into a career as a photojournalist after he found out he could walk into  high school football games for free if he had a camera around his neck. But the photography enthusiast had already converted a bathroom in his house into a darkroom and enjoyed experimenting with the camera his dad had taken into the Vietnam War. Once Liddy was on staff at a newspaper, he began a career of taking risks and adopting the new technology of the day, from digital cameras to drones.

Republicans in the House are moving forward with their version of the state budget. Teachers and supporters who took to the streets in protest over funding were disappointed that the proposal did not meet their demands. Gov. Roy Cooper was also left wanting; now questions have arisen over whether he would veto a budget that does not provide for Medicaid expansion. 

Working mothers have a lot stacked against them. From insufficient parental leave to workplace culture that penalizes family time, moms often find it extremely challenging to get ahead professionally while raising kids. In politics, the barriers are even more daunting. Young moms on the campaign trail are routinely asked about their ability to manage family and political life and field questions about their commitment to issues beyond kids and schools. 

After writer Samia Serageldin lost her mother, she traveled to Cairo to go through her belongings and remember the woman she thought she knew intimately. Yet when she read through journals her mother had kept as a young bride and throughout her life, Serageldin realized there was much she had never considered or understood about her. Along with co-editor Lee Smith, Serageldin put a prompt out to Southern writers she admired: Discover what you know, or do not know, about your mother. An anthology of essays aptly named “Mothers and Strangers: Essays on Motherhood From the New South” (University of North Carolina Press/2019) is the result. 

Although the majority of Americans support paid family leave, only 12 percent of North Carolina workers benefit from it. Employees are able to take unpaid family leave under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, but many workers simply cannot afford to go without pay while they take care of a new baby or sick relative. 

History tends to repeat itself, and when it comes to new technology, the adage could not be more true. As with the advent of railroads and electricity, fiber optic connection holds huge promise for households and cities but is being held up and held back by companies who do not want to lose control over internet provision. While countries like Sweden, Japan and China surge ahead with fiber networks that are transforming medicine, education and city management, the U.S. lags behind and suffers from low-quality, high-cost connectivity. 

As a professional ghostwriter, Autumn Karen is usually forbidden to discuss her projects or her behind-the-scenes role in creating them. But the author of a recently-published book insisted that her name grace the cover along with his. “Mississippi Still Burning: From Hoods to Suits” (One Human Race Inc./2018) is James Stern’s incredible true story of being a black man incarcerated with Edgar Ray Killen, an Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and the man convicted of the 1964 triple-homicide of three civil rights activitsts. 

Andy Eversole does not like to go places without his banjo. But that does not mean he sticks close to home. His most recent recording project took him to India to capture the sounds of the subcontinent and incorporate them into his Southern-rooted banjo music. He journeyed to New Delhi, Agra, Rajasthan and the Kashmir region and collaborated with musicians he met there. He discovered that Indian musicians have a penchant for playing live and that their cows and car horns do not stop for the occasion. Eversole documented the trip in a YouTube documentary

The American Issues Initiative’s new documentary “Rigged: The Voter Suppression Playbook,” wants to alarm people. It shows the myriad tactics that states, including North Carolina, used to suppress citizens’ right to vote leading up to and during the 2016 election.

“Many people don’t understand that a whole series of laws have been passed in over 20 states with the intent, and effect, of making it more difficult to vote,” says Mac Heller, co-executive producer on the film.

Something in your eye? It’s not your fault, some movies are simply designed to be tearjerkers. On this installment of Movies on the Radio, The State of Things heard from listeners about the films that got the tears flowing.   

When Nadia Orton’s kidneys were failing, she sent letters to friends and relatives in the hopes that someone could be a donor or help defray the cost. Orton’s great-aunt Philgradore responded with money from her church. So a few years later, when Aunt Phil asked on her deathbed that her family not be forgotten, Orton knew she had to find a way to honor her ancestors. The problem was that she didn’t know who they were, or where to find them.

Tyrannosaurus Rex is one of the most beloved dinosaurs in American popular culture. But the tyrant king’s background was never entirely clear. A 70 million-year gap in the fossil record had left scientists wondering where the bone-crushing creature came from and how it rose to dominance. A new discovery by researchers at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and North Carolina State University is helping paleontologists answer that question. 

Hollywood loves to feed us stories of good friendships and happy endings. At first glance, "The Best of Enemies" seems to fit that mold. The film tells the story of civil rights advocate Ann Atwater and Ku Klux Klan leader C. P. Ellis. The pair vehemently hated each other yet managed to gain respect for one another as they argued opposite sides of the school integration debate. Author Osha Gray Davidson, who wrote the book upon which the movie was based, explains how their story goes much deeper than an improbable friendship to examine the complex constructions of race and class in Southern society. 

Most people think of white supremacy and racialized hate groups as being organized around beliefs. But author Kelly Baker points to their important use of things.

In her essay “The Artifacts of White Supremacy,” she reveals how the Klan appropriated Protestant imagery and objects to brand themselves, recruit members and attempt to gain legitimacy. She says the white supremacists’ use of the white robe, fiery cross and even the American flag was an attempt at making their beliefs more tangible and more performative.

Naval aviator Lt. Wes Van Dorn signed up to pilot MH-53E helicopters big, heavy single-rotor aircraft with assurances he’d be home on most days to have dinner with his family and tuck his son into bed at night.

But as the Greensboro native soon discovered, maintenance and supply issues often kept the choppers grounded, and maintainers and pilots like him at work. In 2014, Van Dorn was killed in a training exercise off the coast of Virginia along with two sailors, leaving his wife Nicole and two young boys behind.

Singer-songwriter David Wimbish had a tumultuous couple of years. He weathered a lengthy divorce process with his ex-wife and former bandmate, saw multiple friends pick up and move to the west coast and struggled through the near-dissolution of his large and boisterous band, The Collection. But Wimbish decidedly chooses gratitude over grumpiness. He used his enduring spirituality and awe for the natural world to start writing songs that would become The Collection’s latest record, “Entropy,” released in Oct. 2018. 

Six months ago Hurricane Florence battered the Carolinas and doused the region for days with heavy rains. The historic storm broke 18 flood records across North Carolina, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Coastal communities remain in recovery mode, with businesses attempting to finish repairs by the next tourist season and residents still trying to navigate complex housing, insurance and unemployment processes.

The Bennett College accreditation fight goes on. The historically black liberal arts college for women lost its accreditation on Friday, Feb. 22, then almost immediately had it temporarily reinstated by a court order. 

Winston-Salem appears to be moving forward with the removal of a Confederate monument in the city. The statue’s contested ownership is complicating attempts to remove it. The United Daughters of the Confederacy has requested an injunction to prevent the city from moving the Confederate monument. 

Negro Motorist Green Book was a critical resource for African-American travelers to find safe places to eat and sleep where they would not be targeted for their skin color. The resource was used by acclaimed musicians like James Brown and Ray Charles when they visited North Carolina. 

José Gálvez was a 10-year-old shoe-shine boy when he first stepped foot in the newsroom of the Arizona Daily Star. His entry into that building was his first step in a decades-long career as a photojournalist that would eventually earn him a Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism. His winning series, like much of his work, showed the positive and mundane side of life in Latino communities in America.

When thousands of Central Americans moved en masse toward the border between Mexico and the U.S. in 2018, violence and poverty were named as the culprits behind the immigrants’ journey. But according to Edwin Castellanos, another factor could be just as much to blame. 

Sandra Cisneros is best known as the author behind the literary classic “The House on Mango Street,” a book that has been translated into over twenty languages. She has penned poetry, short stories, novels and essays. These days, beyond writing, the acclaimed author is spending a lot of time listening. 

Jean Michel Dissake was an economics student at the University of Douala in Cameroon when he made a radical shift: He left school and spent the next nine years living in the forest. He spent his days interacting with the trees and the river, and this deep connection with nature spawned an artistic passion and a career as a sculptor. 

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