Michelle Tyrene Johnson | KCUR

Michelle Tyrene Johnson

Race, Identity, & Culture Reporter

Michelle is a reporter covering race, culture and identity for KCUR and as part of Sharing America, collaborative reporting project with St. Louis, Missouri, Hartford, Connecticut, and Portland, Oregon.

As a fourth-generation Kansas City, Kansas native and resident, Michelle has been a newspaper reporter, an employment attorney, a diversity and inclusion speaker, a columnist and is a local and national playwright. She is an author of three books about diversity and one book about her grandmother.

Michelle received her degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and her law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, but bleeds red and blue all day, every day.

 

Ways to Connect

One out of five Americans is a woman of color. So, why are their perspectives often overlooked, even in conversations about race and gender? KCUR's Michelle Tyrene Johnson hosts an unfiltered, wide-ranging discussion about life in Kansas City for women of color.

Guests:

Segment 1: What does diversity in the workplace look like today?

When people talk about diversity and inclusion in the workplace, it's usually from the standpoint of the employer. But what about the employee perspective? And for local professionals of color, how does it translate to the day-to-day realities of going to work?

Segment 1: A look at Childish Gambino's latest music video.

 The single 'This is America' by Childish Gambino has inspired plenty of conversations on race, identity and culture. We take a closer look at the meaning behind both the song and video. 

  • Glenn North, poet
  • David Muhammad, rapper and teacher, Shawnee Mission East

Segment 2, beginning at 22:38: The dangers of profiling of proxy.

Stilwell, Kansas, is an unlikely place to find a Muslim Quran reciter who has over a million followers each on both Instagram and Facebook.

But for now, that's where you can find Fatih Seferagic.

When Seferagic was just four years old, his family fled war-torn Bosnia. He eventually ended up in Houston, Texas, when he was 14 years old and that’s when he gained a following after putting his Quran recitations up on YouTube.

Courtesy of Hallmark Cards

Elle McKinney has seen the Black Panther movie nine times and taken all seven of her nephews — in shifts — to see the mega-hit since it came out in February.

So, lucky for McKinney, who is black, that her job as a greeting card writer at Hallmark Cards allowed her to be a writer on the creative team for the launch of Black Panther cards.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

This spring marks 25 years since 23rd Street in the Westside neighborhood of Kansas City, Missouri, was named after civil rights leader Cesar Chavez.

The efforts the community went through echo the current attempt by a coalition of black leaders to rename Paseo Boulevard after Martin Luther King Jr.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

On April 9, 1968, five days after the killing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., civil unrest in response to long-standing racial tension broke out in Kansas City. But what really happened 50 years ago? Last week, KCUR hosted the panel "Reaction or Riot?: Understanding 1968 in Kansas City" for community members to share their own experiences and recollections. Today, we revisited that conversation about the ways our city has — and hasn't — changed in the last half century.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

The next U.S. census will happen in 2020, and it promises to reveal shifting demographics and changing communities. One neighborhood to watch is Strawberry Hill, a vibrant Kansas City, Kansas community that has long been home to immigrants from around the globe. 

Bigstock

When many black diners go out to eat, it’s not uncommon for them to question if race plays a part in the service they receive.

Turns out, that’s not paranoia.

Zach Brewster is an assistant professor of sociology at Wayne State University in Michigan. He has conducted several national research studies on the experience of dining and restaurant discrimination. In his 2015 survey of approximately 1,000 waiters and waitresses across the country, 53 percent of the participants admitted to not giving black diners their best service.

Michelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

Buzzing outside Flarsheim Hall on the grounds of the University of Missouri-Kansas City campus Friday morning sounded like a scourge of mosquitoes.

The drone demonstration outside the School of Computing and Engineering was intended to help university leaders announce that the Department of Defense’s Office of Naval Research had awarded the university a $7.2 million grant and a $7.7 million contract to develop countermeasures to drone threats.

The funding is the largest federal amount received by UMKC for non-health related research.

Walt Disney Studios

The latest Marvel comic film makes way for fresh conversations on race, leadership and heroism.

The superhero thriller, Black Panther, easily topped the box office in its first week receiving attention and applause for its use of a nearly all-black cast and production team. On this Screentime, we take a closer look and explore what the movie says about society's evolving perspectives on race and culture.

Micelle Tyrene Johnson / KCUR 89.3

For decades, the Wonder Hostess Thrift Shop Bakery was an institution at 30th and Troost in Midtown Kansas City. People in the neighborhood remember it from as far back as the 1970s, when it was a quick and cheap place to stop by for day-old bread and discounted baked goods.

It closed about six years ago, and a new player has taken over in that location. People can still buy food there, but it’s a far cry from the processed HoHos and Zingers they used to get from Hostess.