The Midwest is more than 'nice'
For some people born and raised in the middle of the country, it takes traveling to other parts of America to understand what Midwestern means. Others see the differences without ever leaving home.
When it comes to Midwestern "culture," residents like to point out what states in the region have in common.
The co-founder of social media's Midwest vs. Everybody, who prefers to remain anonymous, sees it as "a melting pot of different influences from people that have moved and come and gone and shared experiences." Calling Iowa home, he sees the audience for his content as one that's as much rural as Midwestern.
For illustrator Kevin Necessary, who's based in Cincinnati, Ohio, one of the major hallmarks of Midwestern culture is its "politeness." He attributes that partly to the slower pace of life in the Midwest and its sense of community.
Necessary also says "we don't want to hurt people's feelings " and cites the habit of "minding your own business."
But for Black author L.L. McKinney, the existence of people of color in the Midwest "just gets completely tossed out as if we don't exist."
Based in Johnson County, Kansas, she says that the niceness associated with the Midwest can be polite without accomplishing anything, leaving Black people to defend their very right to exist. As McKinney puts it, "nice is not always kind."