Race and Culture | KCUR

Race and Culture

Shannon Lockwood / Courtesy of Emily Brown

Emily Brown runs a nonprofit in the Kansas City area. She is a black woman who wears her hair naturally. In 2016, she was invited to speak at a national conference, but one of the board members pulled her aside.

"'You know, I think you’re smart,'" Brown told the story recently on KCUR's Central Standard. "'But I’m concerned, you know, that people in the room may not fully hear you because of your hair. You should consider straightening your hair, you know, before you take this trip.'"

Segment 1: A winning NFL franchise puts money in the pockets of its host economy.

Kansas Citians have more to celebrate than just an exciting season for the Chiefs. One study shows when an NFL team is successful, fans in the home city are happier and more productive. That increased productivity creates an economic impact of up to $100 per capita but don't be calling the Chiefs to collect! 

Logan Action

Artist Hugh Merrill, who is white, had troubling memories from what he saw growing up in the Jim Crow South of the 1950s and '60s. And when he started looking into his family history, he was shocked by what he found out.

"It's a little bit like finding out that not only, if you were German, that your ancestors, that your uncles, were guards at Auschwitz — it's like finding out they ran Auschwitz," he says. "I had to make a decision about what to do with this. And it was absolutely clear what had to be done. I had to tell the truth."

Segment 1: The host of The Splendid Table stops by on a Kansas City visit.

Francis Lam is the son of immigrants, the father of a toddler, and a rising star in the food world. Hear his take on how something as simple as food ties into complex, multi-layered personal stories, in his life and in our culture.

  • Francis Lam, host, The Splendid Table

Segment 2: Bob Dylan may not be forever young, but a lot of his fans are.

KCUR 89.3 / StoryCorps

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.

Kevin McEvoy, who describes himself as "very conservative," wants to make sure his children grow up without prejudice against people of color. But he's admittedly unsure about how best to guide them.

Segment 1: Lawmakers from urban districts want their counterparts from rural Missouri to come witness the devestation guns create in their cities.

Members of Missouri's Legislative Black Caucus expressed frustration with Gov. Mike Parson for his unwillingness to take up gun violence in next month's special session. They say they're not shocked, but disheartened, by the lack of urgency to address the issue.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

During a week when President Donald Trump continued attacks on four members of Congress after tweeting that they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came," people of color in Kansas City are reacting with anger, frustration and sadness.

One emotion that's less common is surprise.

Segment 1: Where a new mother lives often affects her ability to find treatment

Postpartum depression affects women of all demographics, but those in rural areas are particularly unable to take advantage of certain treatment options. Kansas City medical professionals reviewed some of the resources available in the region and discussed the challenges of connecting those to the mothers who most need them.

Segment 1: Telling the American story through art by acclaimed African-American artists. 

There's no hyphen in 30 Americans, an art exhibition featuring masterworks by four decades of African-American artists. That's by design. Hear how Kansas Citians have made this traveling show their own, and why the curator who brought it to the Nelson-Atkins says it's "a long time coming."

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

After the Lee's Summit School Board rejected a racial equity training proposal Thursday night, Superintendent Dennis Carpenter interrupted the board meeting and told the board to review his contract and “find a leader you can trust.”

“Every piece that I’ve put forward in this district to try and ensure greater equity, it was met with opposition,” Carpenter said. “If you don’t believe that of all inequities in the district, the greatest one isn’t racial, I don’t know what rock you’re living under … Folks, we’ve got work to do.”

Segment 1: Celeste Ng

Best-selling author Celeste Ng's most recent book is about a lot of things: idealism gone awry, the dark-side of suburbia, and just how complicated family relationships are.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Eleven candidates in the primary for Kansas City mayor.

Two women.

Four black.

One openly LGBT candidate.

Five white men, with two of them named Scott.

No candidates who are Latino, Asian or Native American.

While the field of candidates isn’t representative of the city’s demographics, that still doesn’t ignore that demographics are an element in the decision-making.

Segment 1: Response and recovery to flooding in the Midwest.

We hear regional reactions to the devastating flood waters now making their way through Missouri, and learn about the recovery effort and how the Army Corps of Engineers is planning for the possibilty of more flooding this spring.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

Wes Parham never imagined he could be an author.

“The idea that I would write a book is not something I ever thought as a kid or a teenager, because I wasn’t exposed to authors,” says Parham, who grew up around 76th and Troost in Kansas City, Missouri, and went to Lincoln Preparatory Academy.

Last year, Parham published his first book. And last weekend, at the Black Authors Network Book Fair & Art Show at the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center, he shared it with the community.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

Lincoln Cemetery. Western Baptist Bible College. Wheatley-Provident Hospital.

Compared to the 18th and Vine area, these are among the little-known locations important to Kansas City’s African American history. But they may be better known by summer.

They are among some of the more 130 suggested sites for the proposed African American Heritage Trail. The trail will have a map, an interactive website and informational markers at the sites.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: This is the bank manager's third time running for Kansas City mayor. 

Could this time be the charm for Henry Klein? Though he has never served in public office, Klein says his current job allows him to help people everyday. Today, he discussed how he would continue to lend that helping hand as mayor of Kansas City, Missouri, including his ideas to improve public schools and eliminate earning taxes on small business.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: The installation of a new historical marker is the first public acknowledgement in Missouri of victims of lynching.

Segment 1: An exit interview with the director of the ACLU of Kansas.

Kansas City native Micah Kubic is leaving his post as the executive director of the ACLU of Kansas to take on the same role at the ACLU of Florida. We talk with Kubic his projects, his life in Kansas City, his time consulting local politicians, and how we reacts to being called the anti-Kobach. 

Screenshot / Leavenworth County

Long-time city planner Triveece Penelton always thought if she ever made national news, it would be because of a great project.

But last week, the attention came instead when a Leavenworth County commissioner — a white man addressing a black woman — made a comment about the "master race" to her after she gave a presentation.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Art is inextricably tied to culture.

Whether it's the imagery of visual artists or the narrative themes of writers, race and culture influence the artists and the art.

Members of a two-year-old Kansas City group called the Artists of Color Alliance understand this.

Macmillan Children's Publishing Group

"A Blade So Black," a new young adult novel, is a modern twist on the children's classic, "Alice in Wonderland." This Alice faces the challenges of growing up a black teen in urban Atlanta while also fighting the nightmares in Wonderland. Author L. L. McKinney spoke with us about the novel and how she wrote the female protagonist so her niece could read books with characters that look like her. 

Segment 1: Mayor Sly James is bringing his service to a close, but not before some serious discussions.

Race and equity have been contentious issues in Kansas City for a long time. Mayor Sly James is hosting forums for residents to come together and have constructive discussions.

Focus Features

Director Spike Lee’s "BlacKkKlansman," which won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in May, is finally opening in theaters nationwide. 

Lee's co-writer is University of Kansas film professor Kevin Willmott, who spoke with KCUR's Central Standard host Gina Kaufmann about the movie, which is based on a true story.

Segment 1: Is the phrase "white people" becoming taboo?

On this episode, we explore the concept of whiteness as an identity and why some people are uncomfortable with the term.

  • Micah Kubic, author, Freedom, Inc. and Black Political Empowerment
  • Lona Davenport, program coordinator, Division of Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC

Segment 2, beginning at 33:50: How Shakespeare can help prisoners improve their social skills.

J Aeionic / Flickr

Folk singer and songwriter Danny Cox has been a fixture of the Kansas City music scene since he moved here from Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1967. Cox played at classic venues like the Vanguard Coffee House in the 1960s, and the Cowtown Ballroom in the '70s. 

And he's still performing. When Cox recently turned 75, KCUR's Fish Fry host Chuck Haddix spoke with Cox about his life and career, starting with his song "Kansas City":

Attercop311 / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: Kansas farmers hope to boost agricultural economy with new cash crop.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer in April signed off on a bill that included the Alternative Crop Research Act, which effectively allows the Kansas Department of Agriculture to oversee the cultivation of industrial hemp. Although hemp is famously difficult to maintain, both seasoned and novice Kansas farmers are eager to cash in on one of the most lucrative crops in American history.

Adib Khorram

Jul 26, 2018

Kansas City author Adib Khorram talks about his new buzz-generating novel for young adults, Darius The Great Is Not Okay. It turns out, Khorram has a lot in common with his teenage protagonist, from growing up half-Iranian in the United States to navigating life with depression to being obsessed with Star Trek and hot tea.

  • Adib Khorram, author, Darius The Great Is Not Okay

Warren K. Leffler / United States Library of Congress

Segment 1: Kansas City, Kansas, Public Safety and Neighborhood Infrastructure Sales Tax up for renewal.

A three-eighth-cent sales tax that passed with 70 percent of the vote in 2010 has collected more than $50 million devoted to public safety and neighborhood projects in Wyandotte County. This August, voters there get to decide if the sales tax has been worth the money. The levy is set to expire in 2020 unless it is approved for renewal. Today, we discussed the projects that the tax has benefitted and if it's still the best option for the Unified Government.

The Arch grounds reopening is happening again after photos of the initial ribbon-cutting on Tuesday showed a lack of racial diversity.

As the common saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The photos showing city officials and guests cutting the ribbon at the ceremony organized by Gateway Arch Park Foundation were worth three: “Arch So White,” or #ArchSoWhite on social media.

Brandi Thorpe

Brandi Thorpe says her 10-year-old son D’Juan Franklin is a loving, intelligent child, who loves playing football and baseball. He's also autistic.

When Thorpe transferred him to the New Beginnings School in the Lansing, Kansas, district — a school dedicated to special education — she was hopeful that her son would get the support he needed. And, he did, up until the morning of January 17, 2017.

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