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Politics, Elections and Government

StoryCorps In Kansas City — Getting Past Political Narratives To Find The Smaller Stories

KCUR 89.3 / StoryCorps
Erica Stone and Bonjwing Lee had never met before they interviewed each other at KCUR.

KCUR is part of StoryCorps' One Small Step initiative to bring together people of differing political opinions for real conversations. This is one we've chosen to highlight.

Ph.D. candidate Erica Stone doesn't talk about politics with her family much anymore. And when she does, it usually turns south fast.

"My dad will say things like ‘I hate all the liberals,’ I’m like, do you hate me? ‘No I don’t hate you, I hate all the liberals,'" Stone says. "And I’m like, I think you might hate me."

Photographer Bonjwing Lee is, ideologically, on the opposite end of the spectrum from Stone, but he understands her predicament. 

"I don't really talk that much about politics with my friends ... unless I feel that they're knowledgable and informed," Lee says. "The other reason why I'm shy to talk about politics openly is because I am more conservative."

Lee says he's in the "vast minority" among his peers, and bringing up politics leads to misunderstandings more often than not. Stone believes that's an issue of preconceived notions taking over before a real conversation can happen.

"As part of my research and dissertation ... I study the difference between small stories and grand narratives, and I really think those grand narratives, if you're conservative, are 'You're a bigot and you're racist,'" Stone says. 

"It's the cable news network narratives, you know?" Lee says. "The big cable news networks that like to paint broadly with either red or blue strokes."

"I really think if we could find a way to minimize those grand narratives and spotlight smaller stories and conversations like this ... I think we'd be in a much better place," Stone says.

Ron Jones is KCUR's director of community engagement.

Matthew Long-Middleton is a community producer for KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter@MLMIndustries.

Cody Newill is an audience development specialist for KCUR 89.3. Follow him on Twitter@CodyNewill.

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