America is as broken as that grandmama plate you dropped while washing the dishes. And that is because the parts that make up America — the states — have as many cracks as a city street after winter.
Take the “southern state” of Virginia for instance. It was revealed last week that it seems as if everyone in the state house all idolized Cotton Watts growing up. Here in North Dakota, there was a Native American voter suppression fight.
All states have cracks. And my home state of North Carolina needs a whole new molding.
The NBA All-Star game is occurring this weekend down in Charlotte, affectionally known as the Queen City. (The nicknamed deriving from Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Charlotte is the seat of Mecklenburg County.) What many of you readers may have forgotten, or didn’t know, Charlotte was suppose to have hosted the All-Star game in 2017. Why did the Association postpone, almost completely bypassing altogether, having the game in North Carolina until now? Because North Carolina went all North Carolina.
House Bill 2, or what it has become better known as the “bathroom bill” was a law put into effect in 2016 created by Bible toting lawmakers (North Carolina is part of the Bible Belt after all) who wanted to tell businesses how to govern their patrons bathroom habits and to mandate transgender peoples where they can take a leak.
The law read: “Public agencies shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility to be designed for and only used by persons based on their biological sex.” The bill defined biological sex as, “the physical condition of being male or female, which is stated on a person’s birth certificate.”
Immediately discrimination became the term most associated with HB2. And the fallout from that was not only the NBA pulling the All-Star game from the ‘Old North State’ but also the NCAA banning all championships from being held in North Carolina.
So, lawmakers, more so seeing the potential revenue being flushed down the toilet (according to reports, an estimated $3.76 billion would have been lost over 12 years with businesses like PayPal cancelling a global payment center in Charlotte) rather than actually feeling bad for those they discriminated against, passed House Bill 186 in 2017 that repealed HB2. And with that repeal, back came the NCAA and the NBA, as commissioner Adam Silver granted Charlotte this year’s All-Star game despite being quoted as saying, “It did not mean the fundamental issues are resolved.”
I’m happy that the NBA community is converging onto North Carolina, in general, Uptown Charlotte and the Spectrum Center specifically this weekend, for the first time since 1991. (It was held at the now long demolished Charlotte Coliseum then.) But the All-Star game reminds me of HB2 which is another reminder to me of the love-hate relationship I have with my home state.
No matter where I reside or the city I retire in, North Carolina will always be home. I spent 30 years of my life in Carolina over which time I have had great memories (high school and college graduations, football and baseball playing days, my track career, Thanksgivings and Christmases with family, my late grandmother) but North Carolina is flawed. It, too, was involved in voter suppression during the previous presidential election were a lower court ruled that the voter ID law was an unconstitutional effort to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.”
Remember when Serena Williams refused to play in South Carolina because the Confederate flag hang above the state house? Well … North Carolina has a very large one, right off Interstate 95 near the town of Benson. I-95 is the main artery from the Houlton-Woodstock Border Crossing to Miami covering 1,919 miles. The flag is the beacon letting travelers know that they are indeed in “God’s Country.”
And since it’s Black History Month, it’ll be a disservice if I don’t mention that the most famous protest of the Civil Rights era, the Woolworth counter sit-in of 1960, occurred in Greensboro.
Relationships are that way. There will be days when you absolutely love your spouse/partner. Then there are those days you want to strangle the life out of them. And then sometimes, you have to love them from a distance. So as NC-bred Michael Jordan and the Hornets organization welcome the entire NBA populace to his state, their state, our state, I hope that it’ll be the best All-Star weekend in Association history. I love North Carolina enough to want to see All-Star weekend be a success — but I hate it enough to not want deal with its scars.
I can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter: @ChrisHarris_DLJ