Discrimination | KCUR

Discrimination

Sixty-four years ago, the United States Supreme Court handed down the decision to end legal segregation in the public school system as part of the Brown v. Board of Education case. A new mural is being unveiled Thursday in the Kansas Capitol in Topeka to commemorate that landmark decision.

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A black middle school student, who reported a sexual and physical assault, is at the center of a federal lawsuit claiming Lansing Middle School officials failed to deal with the issue properly because of his race. 

The lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kansas, stems from a February 6 incident when the Lansing Middle School student was allegedly verbally and physically attacked by another student — who, the lawsuit points out, is white.

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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.

mmrogne / Wikimedia Commons

Segment 1: Accusations and investigations result in new rounds of discipline at both universities.

After allegations of hazing and sexual assault, 24 of the 28 fraternities at the University of Kansas and all 29 at the University of Missouri - Columbia have temporarily suspended a number of activities. Today, we asked what led to these decisions and whether it is indicative of a attitude change in fraternity culture nationwide.

Stephen Koranda / Kansas News Service

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer has made a point to say he will not accept harassment and discrimination in his administration. But he won’t say if he’ll reinstate an executive order that would bar discrimination against LGBT state workers.

“What I have said is that we will not tolerate discrimination. If there’s an issue of discrimination, come to me,” Colyer said. “We’ll deal with it. It’s not tolerated by our administration, period.”

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Former Kansas City mayoral candidate recalls facing racial and sex discrimination.

From her youth in rural Mississippi to growing up through the civil rights movement, to her eventual career in executive leadership, Janice Ellis spoke of her experiences navigating the political, corporate, and non-profit sectors as a black person, and as a woman.

Eschipul / Creative Commons-Flickr

Another lawsuit alleging racial discrimination has been filed in federal court against the Power & Light District in downtown Kansas City.

Shawnee resident Arthur Brown, a 55-year-old African American, says that on Oct. 26, 2014, he was watching the World Series between the Royals and San Francisco Giants on Power & Light’s Jumbotron with thousands of other fans.

Usually making a travel list is a good thing for a city, state or country — but Missouri is now on Fodor's 'No List' of places to avoid in 2018. 

Among a list of destinations to avoid for reasons like high murder rates (Honduras), ethnic cleansing (Myanmar) and the environmental threats of tourism (Thailand), Missouri makes the list for apparent racism. 

There's no question the state made national headlines last year.

KCUR

Kansas Republican Rep. Steve Alford was swiftly criticized by both sides of the aisle for saying black people are more prone to drug abuse because of their "character makeup" and "genetics," and that's part of the reason why legalizing marijuana in Kansas would not be a good idea.  

Though he's the first lawmaker to say something offensive in 2018, he's just the latest in Kansas and Missouri over the past year. Racism, homophobia, threats of violence: nothing seems out of bounds. Here are some of the notable, publicly aired examples: 

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

It seems like news is constantly breaking about men accused of sexual misconduct, harassment or assault. There's a feeling of change in the air, but there is also confusion.

We explore how Kansas Citians are responding. We hear what women want in the workplace, and we talk to men who are rethinking their behavior and perspectives. Plus: your thoughts and questions.

Guests:

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

The state auditor for Missouri is backing a bill to reinstate legal protections for whistleblowers in state government. The governor and General Assembly stripped those protections earlier this year.

Phil Prater / Public Domain

On KCUR’s Central Standard, host Gina Kaufmann spoke to Reverend Debbie Buchholz, co-founder of Deaf International, and William Ennis, assistant professor of history at Gallaudet University, about the history of persecution against people with deafness in this country — and the milestones along the path to equal rights.

Brian Ellison / KCUR

With little fanfare or advance notice, workers Friday morning began taking apart a Confederate monument along Ward Parkway just south of 55th Street. 

As cars rushed by, workers disassembled the monument's limestone column and benches with chainsaws and other power tools.

Courtesy of Avila University

Officials at Avila University say they are investigating a swastika drawn on an academic building on the south Kansas City campus. 

University officials say the swastika was written in chalk and was discovered on the outside of Dallavis Hall Monday. An Avila spokesman says the swastika was quickly removed after being found.  

An email alerting faculty and students to the incident called it a “hate crime.”

"This incident is a hate crime. Avila takes incidents like this very seriously and the incident is being investigated," the email read. 

Julie Denesha / KCUR 89.3

Michelle Tyrene Johnson scrolls back to a Facebook post she made in July with news about the national NAACP supporting a travel advisory in a single state for the first time.

“My comment with this is: ‘I have always had the policy that I don't travel in Missouri at night unless I'm on I-70 because parts of the state are just that openly racist,’” she says

Charvex / Wikipedia Commons

The J.C. Nichols Memorial Fountain is named after a man who did great things for Kansas City. However, his achievements were accompanied by racist beliefs and policies that still divide us. Today, the Ethics Professors discuss whether we should rename monuments that honor historic figures whose standards don't pass contemporary moral muster. Then, we explore the gray area of political free speech for public educators.

CAROLINA HIDALGO / ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Governor Eric Greitens had a busy afternoon last Friday, June 30. He signed a major change to employment law, making it much harder for a fired employee to prove a discrimination case. He vetoed a bipartisan compromise that would have preserved a tax credit for low-income seniors and disabled people. And he signed the state budget—while also withholding more than $250 million in spending. Host Brian Ellison talks with KCUR's Kyle Palmer to catch you up on the political news of the weekend and give you an update on what might come next out of Missouri's Capitol.

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement on Facebook.

Matt Hodapp / KCUR 89.3

One Missouri lawmaker who won't be back for any special sessions this summer is Kansas City's Randy Dunn; the representative resigned last week to begin a new job in Omaha. Dunn was a triple minority in the Missouri General Assembly: A Democrat, a person of color and an openly gay man. He joined us for an exit interview to give us an unvarnished look at the way things work in Jefferson City.

Updated May 31 with oral arguments — A case that could expand legal protections for the state’s LGBTQ community is in the hands of a three-judge panel of Missouri’s Court of Appeals.

Judges Anthony Gabbert, Victor Howard and Cynthia Martin heard arguments Wednesday in the case of a 17-year-old transgender boy from the Kansas City area who wants to be allowed to use the boy’s restroom and lockers rooms at his school. His attorneys argue that the decision by the Blue Springs R-IV district to deny the request violates Missouri’s Human Rights Act.

Catherine Wheeler / KCUR 89.3

At the end of the 2017 legislative session, we took the podcast on the road to ask an important question: are Kansas City's communities of color being heard in Jefferson City?  

This podcast was recorded live at the Metropolitan Missionary Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri. 

After nearly six hours of contentious debate Monday, the Missouri House passed a bill that makes it harder for people who are fired from a job to prove they were discriminated against.

The start of the last week of the 2017 legislative session also saw the Missouri Senate put a long-awaited prescription drug monitoring program on life support by standing its ground. 

File photo / KCUR 89.3

Kansas City needs to do a better job investigating and documenting employment discrimination complaints.

Kansas City Auditor Doug Jones says his office initially set out to audit the Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity (EEO) office because it was told that complaints take too long to resolve.

Danny Wood / KCUR 89.3

The Big 12 basketball tournament starts today at Kansas City’s Sprint Center. The multi-day event generates an estimated $13.6 million for the local economy.

At the same time, the Missouri legislature is looking at three bills that would require people to use public bathrooms that correspond with the sex listed on their birth certificates. If passed, such a measure could prevent Kansas City from keeping or getting other big events.

Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby says he's closely monitoring the bills’ progress.

Courtesy - SCLC-GKC

Across the city, people celebrated the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. with parades, dancing, singing and community service. 

For Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City, the best way to honor that legacy is through activism.

This year, paired with a celebration of King's life, is the official launch of a campaign for a ten-year, one-eighth cent sales tax increase to benefit the city's East Side. 

On Monday, the SCLC-GKC sponsored a community forum to discuss the proposed tax increase. 

J.C. Nichols gave Kansas City the Country Club Plaza. Some say he also gave us racial segregation, mid-century white flight and the so-called Troost wall between white and black. We examine his influence, both in Kansas City and across the rest of the country.

Guest:

If you are an immigrant to this country, finding employment can be a challenge. According to a University of Kansas study, if you're an immigrant with particularly dark skin, then your chances of getting a job are that much tougher.

Guest:

  • Andrea Gomez Cervantes is one of the authors of the study and a doctoral student in the Sociology Department at the University of Kansas.

The Equal Rights Amendment has one of the longest sagas in U.S. Congressional history. Passed in 1972 but never ratified, advocates continue to pursue strategies for its enactment.

Guest:

Jessica Neuwirth is the founder of the ERA Coalition, which has over 50 member organizations. She is the author of Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment Is Now.

Indiana and Arkansas are in the news for controversial legislature aimed at protecting religious freedom. On this edition of Up To Date, the Ethics professors discuss when religious freedom infringes on other freedoms. Plus, what  responsibilities do employers and employees have when it comes to illness, mental or otherwise, in the workplace?

Guests:

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has signed an executive order rescinding protected class status for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender state workers.  We talk to two local journalists about public reactions to the governor's move and what it means for the LGBT community in Kansas.

Guests:

  • Peggy Lowe is a reporter for Harvest Public Media based at KCUR.
  • Barb Shelly is a columnist for the Kansas City Star.

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