A Gen X member reflects on the future

By Chantel Gillus

When Tracy Gary, 54, was growing up, her mother faced many hardships. Yet, Gary’s mother made it her mission to build her daughter’s strength, self-esteem and confidence by telling her how smart, pretty and special she was.

She describes her mother as a “battered” woman. As a child, Gary’s mother promised a better life and that it all started with her thought process and work ethic.

“My mother was the strongest woman I knew,” Gary said. “No one could look at her and tell what things were really like. She was so brave. I instill those qualities in my girls and share them with any girl in my presence.”

Through generational feminism, Gary is giving the younger generation the decision to either renew or remake older feminist ideologies. While some  women of the older generation commend their successors, others have mixed feelings regarding the remodeling of feminist views.

Millennials and Gen Z are putting their spin on feminism through the use of social media, intersectionality and being unapologetically bold.

Teacher Latonia Vincent, 50, likes to see the new generation of women being empowered and confident in who they are. However, she feels as though everything has boundaries.

“Sometimes I feel that we have stepped too far outside of who we’re supposed to be as far as having respect for our bodies and being so sexually free with our bodies,” Vincent said.

Likewise, Georgia Harrison, 58, mental health specialist, said that she is proud of the new generation and their individuality, but she also feels like they can be vulgar at times.

“I’m OK with their expressions, but not so much their method of delivery. I feel like the new generation is quite capable of expressing themselves in a more sophisticated manner than they use at times,” Harrison said.

Harrison thinks that as life changes, people, things and methods change. 

As a member of Gen X, Gary’s form of feminism was establishing a successful career. She became a math teacher at 21 and a principal by age 30, while being a wife and mother to two daughters, aged 25 and 29.

Going to college, establishing a career and being committed to her family was evidence that women don’t have to choose between having a family or a career. Rather, it is possible to have both.

“The best way for me to promote women’s rights was to model the life of a woman who knew her value and place in this world,” Gary said.

As for the women of today, Vincent thinks that it is a good thing that women have stepped into more progressive roles, gaining degrees and employment. She believes everyone should have the option of going out into the workforce or staying at home.

“I feel like many times men are ridiculed when they choose to stay at home with the children because the wife works and makes more money,” Vincent said. “I also feel like today’s women also look down on other women who choose to stay home, like they are not as valuable as those in the workforce.”

She said it’s OK to embrace change, but that people also have to teach old and new ways to children to allow them to choose their own lifestyle.

Harrison said that gender roles are more fluid than they were in the 1960s.

She said the extreme dichotomy between male and female roles is no longer the expected life pattern. Both men and women can pursue careers and choose to dedicate their lives to home life amongst other things.

“I believe a woman should have the same rights as a man in any arena,” Harrison said. “As a single Black woman in the workforce and having to stand on my own and expected to work as hard as the man, I’d say it’s very important for women to have equal rights with men.”

Harrison also mentioned women have come a long way in terms of freedom of speech. According to her, the younger generation is capitalizing on their earned rights and flexibility to openly express themselves.

She thinks it is because parents are more relaxed when it comes to relationships, sexuality, fashion and similar behaviors. People are more accepting of the new generation being who they are than in the past because “it’s simply a new era.”

“Many women today are more focused on corporate America, technology and good times,” Harrison said. “There are times that mothers are left to take care of home alone, some are married, yet unsettled and at times are more concerned about friendship with their daughters and busy being fearful of their sons as opposed to proper parenting.”

Vincent believes that the women of the new era are continuing the fight of women like Shirley Chisholm, who was the first Black woman in Congress in 1968.

“However, I feel that we should not taint their memories by going about it the wrong way. Sometimes in being vocal and demanding respect, we go too far. We begin to be ignored because we are just brash, disrespectful, and harsh in our speaking and actions,” Vincent said.

There are times where Harrison does not feel seen when the younger generation women speak because they speak differently than how she was taught to speak.

She thinks that younger people are more likely to say what they feel without thinking or showing  respect for authority.

Gary and Vincent hope to be great role models for their daughters. They hope they continue to take after them through leadership, loving themselves, and being strong women.

Gary said her daughters grew up seeing her work hard in positions typically given to men. They saw how important getting an education was and how it takes an entire family to make the household run effectively. 

Gary’s daughters traveled with her as she pursued her graduate degree. Their father cooked and got them ready for school when Gary went to conferences as a teacher, principal, director and superintendent.

“They saw what it was like to be a strong Black woman. They saw my struggles of being tired and frustrated at times. They decided to obtain graduate degrees before having a family. They made a conscious decision to buy a home before getting married,” Gary said. “It is my hope and desire that each generation sets the tone for improvement for the next generation.”

Edited by Courtney Hicks and Halsey Ziglar

Wife continues husband’s culinary legacy after tragic death

By Ethan Horton

Friday, Oct. 8, 2021

Lauren Erickson decided she was going to keep her husband, Beau Bennett, alive until Friday. All she wanted was to stay with him a little bit longer.

He lay almost lifeless in an ICU bed, four days after suffering a major brain hemorrhage that separated the two halves of his brain.

Even if they were able to save him, the doctors said her husband would “never be Beau again.”

This was uncharacteristic for both of them — Beau was lifeless when he was usually boisterous, and Lauren was finally realizing he wouldn’t come back. 

He’d been arrested, gone to a rehabilitation center and to the emergency room. But he always came back.

Lauren didn’t even realize at the time that Friday, Oct. 8, 2021 — the day Beau died — was their 10th wedding anniversary.

Now, she had to be the wife that kept everything together.


Beau was working as a sauté chef at 411 West in Chapel Hill. Lauren was working as a hostess there, but she never saw Beau. He was always behind a wall of pots and pans.

But he could see her.

One night, after her shift ended, Lauren joined the rest of the staff in an alley beside the building — their place to escape from the noise and relax. Beau, with a Carolina blue bandana wrapped around his head, sat in the alley on an old wooden fence.

“Hey, I’m Beau. What’s your name?”

It was his name that drew Lauren in. Oh, and the bandana. She was a huge Poison fan, and his resemblance to lead singer Bret Michaels was undeniable.

From then on, they took things slow. Sometimes, even four years into their obvious relationship, Beau tried to jokingly tell friends that he and Lauren weren’t official.

Everyone knew they were, Lauren said. 

They were best friends. He was her confidant, her everything.


Everything Beau did was loud, Lauren said. Outrageous, even.

He spoke loud, his laugh was loud, and his feet stomped everywhere he went. He did what he wanted.

Beau wasn’t satisfied being a sauté chef. His personality was too big to be contained in the back of the restaurant. He wanted to be the star of the show.

In 2008, he founded Beau Catering, providing simple Southern food with a twist. He started out with just a cardboard box full of pots and pans and a Honda Accord. No staff, no kitchen.

Somehow, he managed to get a few clients, and he gathered family and friends for catering staff.

“It was beyond bootstraps,” Lauren said. “It was pure ignorance.”

The signature dish — the crab cakes — wasn’t the main attraction for Beau Catering, though.

Beau came out from the kitchen and announced the night’s menu to guests before every event — charisma overflowing, blue bandana still wrapped around his head.

For one wedding, the planner marked out time in the itinerary for “The Beau Show,” and the shtick stuck.

March 2020

After sitting at home during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the catering business completely halted in its tracks. Lauren and Beau were tired of doing nothing.

Luckily, an opportunity fell into their laps.

Carrboro United, a pandemic-era food initiative, started in March 2020 and helped bring more than $1 million back to the community.

Beau Catering signed up and they were busier than ever.

“We went from thinking we were going to… do yoga and stretch and chill in the yard to being very busy without any help,” Lauren said.

Lauren, who hadn’t been involved in the business much pre-pandemic, was thrust into the middle of it all.

She was cooking meals, handing them out and helping run the more practical side of the business, while Beau was off doing whatever Beau wanted to do.

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021

When Lauren walked in the front door after a work trip to Greensboro, she could hear Beau’s breathing from the other side of the house. He was loud, but not usually this loud.

Every single light in the house was out.

Confused, she walked to the back to check on him. For a second, she thought he was just asleep.

He was on the floor, unconscious and struggling to breathe. His phone was on the floor next to him. And he wasn’t waking up.

Beau’s health was notoriously outrageous, just like him, and Lauren had a lot of experience with her own dad’s constant health problems. She calmly packed Beau’s go-bag and headed to the hospital. She didn’t even bring anything of her own. 

If Beau made it through jumping off of a pier at Atlantic Beach or falling in a rocky stream, he’d make it through this, Lauren thought. 

No, she knew.

She’d been through the emergency room wasteland many times so she knew the procedure. Usually, it took a while for the doctors to come and talk to the family — but not this time.

The moment she walked in, a doctor pulled her into a dark, barren conference room.

“I knew at that moment, I knew it was not good,” she said.

She was going to miss him so much — she’d only have her flip book of memories.

The blue bandana. The apple box. The pier. The wedding. The fights. The loud steps. The dog house moments, both ways. The deep conversations that he would make you have with him. The Wendy’s trips that became adventures. The family beach trip they’d taken just the week before. The times he would miss meetings to drive around and have conversations with random people on the street. The smile. The laugh.


Pictures of Beau in his blue bandana hang on the walls of Piedmont Food Processing Center, where Beau Catering is now housed. There are signs of his larger-than-life presence everywhere.

One of Beau’s hires, Katie Hopkins, is now the head chef and general manager. She wears a bandana at work, and has a blue one on the shelf next to her desk.

Lauren, who now owns a financial advising firm, is more involved with Beau Catering thanks to her COVID experience. She said Katie runs the place with much less emotion than Beau did — in some ways, for the better. With staffing turnovers, things have changed.

“There’s a lot of energy that Beau brought that, in theory, I have,” she said. “But it’s hard to have to bring it in a manufactured way when you feel so sad. When you lose your light, it’s hard to fake it. I can see that starting to come back with the team.”

On the chain-link door to a newly acquired storage space is a sign for Beau Catering. In the top left corner of the sign, there’s a note written in orange highlighter:

“You are missed.”

Edited by Courtney Hicks and Halsey Ziglar