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D.G. Martin

Cultural Competency not just for journalists

Last week, as the story of African American protests over the absence of black nominees for Academy Awards was developing, Sam Fulwood explained what he learned reporting the 1992 Los Angeles riots that broke out after a jury found the police officers accused of beating Rodney King not guilty. Covering a newly created “race beat,” Fulwood reported the public reaction to the King story. Blacks and whites, he found, saw the story in dramatically different ways, with blacks sympathizing with King and whites finding ways to minimize any police misconduct. It is the same story over and over again,...

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Yard signs and State of the Union speeches: Wasted efforts?

They are a waste of time, don’t change anybody’s mind, and have little or no impact on the outcome of elections or the support of a politician. Does this comment describe the impact of political yard signs on elections or the effectiveness of speeches, such as President Obama’s State of the Union message last week? Or both? A study on yard signs in political campaigns, co-authored by High Point University professor Dr. Brandon Lenoir, “shows political lawn signs have little effect on votes in a political race and no effect on turnout,” according to a university release. Professor Lenoir...

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Help me explain my love for homecooking eateries

My upcoming book about local, home cooking places near North Carolina’s Interstate highways has a title, “North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries: A Traveler’s Guide to Local Restaurants, Diners, and Barbecue Joints.” And, it has a new challenge to meet before the publisher, UNC Press, releases it this fall. My editors want me to revise my introduction to follow some suggestions from a careful reader who said he wanted “to hear D.G.’s voice more in the introduction,” including “where has he been in life and where is he going that brings him back again and again to these down home spots.”...

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European history lessons for North Carolinians

What does a new 800-page history of 20th Century Europe have to do with North Carolina politics of the 21st Century? First, a few words about the book itself, “Out of Ashes: A New History of Europe in the Twentieth Century,” by UNC-Chapel Hill Professor Konrad Jarausch. The book describes what happened in Europe during the 100 years beginning in 1900, when France and England controlled much of the non-European world, and the empires of Germany, Russia, and Austria-Hungary ruled much of the European continent. It then takes its readers through two brutal and disastrous world wars. What followed...

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New Bookwatch season—off to a great start

One thing about the New Year is for sure, and I am celebrating it. A new season of UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch begins January 10. The first six programs of the new season include three that feature North Carolina writers who were honored recently in Raleigh at the Bouchercon 2015 World Mystery Convention: Kathy Reichs, Sarah Shaber, and Margaret Maron. Also featured are the writer of another mystery, Ron Rash, and two authors of important non-fiction works, William Leuchtenburg and Damon Tweedy. Charlotte author Kathy Reichs, whom Bouchercon recognized at its “American Guest of Honor,” may have been the...

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Remembering our own Christmas ghosts

I am haunted by the ghosts of Christmas past. And they are good ghosts. Mostly. These ghosts are memories that come back each season. Some are wrapped around Santa Claus. Others are centered on the baby Jesus and the miracle of his birth. Some blend the two traditions. One of my favorites is about a basketball I wanted from Santa when I was a little boy. I also wanted him to bring a Charlie McCarthy-type ventriloquist dummy, but my mom said I could only ask for one of them. I still believed in Santa and chose the basketball. Then...

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This Season: How Do We Bring it all Together?

How do we put it all together at this time every year? Christmas. That is what I am thinking about. We are used to it of course. It almost seems natural. But it is not. We have just done it this way forever. We are on auto-pilot—usually not stopping to think about whether the things we do are “natural” or not. How would we respond if someone stopped us and asked us this question? “How is it that you treat this season so inconsistently that is seems almost schizophrenic?” We wouldn’t deny it, would we? We would have to...

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Remembering the Pro and Anti Santa Church Factions

It is hard to make sense of Christmas if you try to explain it in one dimension. It is so many things these days. It is a religious holy day, of course–but so much more. Or so much less, depending on how you look at it. A time of magic and dreams come true for children. An orgy of shopping and spending. Festive parties, crowds of people from office or work–seeing each other in different ways. Or jammed into other people’s houses seeing if you can find a few of your friends among their friends. Standing. Eating Drinking. Talking....

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Making friends with our presidents

The president of the United States today sends troops to fight in distant lands for long periods, enters into binding agreements with foreign powers, and takes other extraordinary actions, all without prior approval from Congress. Presidential candidates promise to reverse their predecessors’ agreements on the first day they take office. And they confidently promise to take other dramatic and costly actions unilaterally on that same first day. We have come to expect, even demand, such power plays from our presidents. So it is fair to ask what explains the enormous growth of presidential power from its lowly state in...

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What book for the perfect gift this season?

Have you seen the TV ad with George Foreman? “People ask me all the time, George, how do I get my idea in front of companies?” Well, this time of year people ask me all the time, “DG, what is a good book for me to give this Christmas?” I don’t have one perfect answer. But I can suggest some recent North Carolina related books to consider. Memoirs: Three prominent North Carolina writers shared their life stories in recent books. In “Half of What I Say Is Meaningless,” former state poet laureate Joseph Bathanti tells how a working class...

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