Racism | KCUR

Racism

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:

A large crowd of people outside. They are holding up fists at a protest and there are people with cameras near them.
Tyler Adkisson / KBIA 91.3

Segment 1: With only three of eight seats occupied, Missouri's Board of Education has gone months without a meeting.

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens wasn't short on contentious relationships in Jefferson City. One of them? The state's Board of Education, which lost its commissioner in December and has operated without a quorum since. Today, we learned what the vacancies have meant for the state's public and charter schools, and got some insight about how new Gov. Mike Parson may handle the situation.

Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3

A former 23-year veteran employee of the Kansas City Fire Department is suing the department for racial discrimination.

In a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday, Travis Yeargans, who is black, says he's not the only one who has been discriminated against. The lawsuit claims KCFD has a "pattern and practice of not promoting African-Americans to any position above firetruck driver due to race."

Yeargans was promoted in 1996 to driver but never to captain. The lawsuit says he made several attempts to get the promotion.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

Segment 1: Finding the best way to memorialize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Kansas City.

Many in Kansas City agree there should be something here to memorialize the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The question is, what? Following suggestions The Paseo be renamed (or 39th Street or 63rd) Mayor Sly James appointed an advisory group to recommend how best to proceed. Today, we spoke with the co-chair of that panel, which recommended attaching Dr. King's name to a yet-to-be-built terminal at the airport.

Google Street View

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.

Missouri Valley Special Collections / Kansas City Public Library

Most cities have a school system. Kansas City has a system of schools.

It’s an important distinction in a metro bisected by a state line, in a city with dozens of charters, in a school district state lawmakers intentionally kept small.  This is a place where the quality of education often depends on parents’ ability to navigate a frustratingly complex system.

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

A day-long event Sunday at Kansas City’s Union Station helped launch “All of Us,” a new nationwide research initiative from the National Institutes of Health.

The program’s goal is to collect genetic data from one million people from a wide variety of races, ethnicities and backgrounds.

The Old Quindaro Township in Kansas City, Kansas, finally may be getting the recognition it deserves.

Between 1857 and 1862, Quindaro was a busy commercial port on the Missouri River. It was a mecca for abolitionists and settlers and considered a melting pot of Indians, European-Americans and freed slaves.  New England progressives came in the hopes of making Kansas an anti-slave state. It's best known as an important stop on the Underground Railroad.

The ex-girlfriend of one of the men accused of plotting an attack against immigrants in Garden City says the men spent months studying how to make homemade explosives.  

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

Jeff Sloan knew something was wrong as soon as his 10-year-old son got off the school bus.

Jayden, a fourth grader at Mason Elementary in Lee’s Summit, was limping slightly – and there was something wrong with his speech.

“He’s talking like his tongue’s tied, and he’s telling me, ‘I’ve had the worst day, Dad. It’s just been terrible,’” Jeff says. “I said, ‘So what happened? Why are you talking like that?’ And he goes, ‘I bit my tongue.’”

Andrea Tudhope / KCUR 89.3

On Wednesday morning, Dennis Vallejo, a police officer in Kansas City, Kansas, removed the tarp covering a statue of abolitionist John Brown to reveal stark black markings sprawled across the monument's otherwise pure white marble. 

The historic statue, at North 27th Street and Sewell Ave. near the Quindaro Townsite, was vandalized over the weekend. Among several markings, two were overtly racist and anti-Semitic: a swastika on the statue's head and the N-word on its feet.

Daniel X. O'Neil / Flickr-CC

Segment 1: Is The Cat in the Hat's design inspired by blackface? 

Have you ever revisited a favorite book from your childhood ... to find that it is actually racist? As our society's perspective on race evolves, we look at racial undertones within children literature.

Allan Warren / Wikimedia Commons

Today, we speak with a University of Kansas student who won an international competition focused on designing a spacecraft capable of reaching Mars and returning to Earth.

Then: James Baldwin's legacy still resonates with today's thinkers on race in Kansas City. We discuss how his ideas still relate with the current social climate.

Guests:

CTUCC / Flickr - CC

On this holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr., Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Leonard Pitts Jr. offers his thoughts on the slain civil rights leader, and critiques President Donald Trump's recent tributes to Dr. King and Rosa Parks.

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: 

A state representative from rural Missouri won’t face any punishment for a controversial Facebook post he made last summer.

The House Ethics Committee considered sanctions against Rep. Warren Love, R-Osceola, for a Facebook post in which he said vandals who defaced a Confederate monument should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

After much deliberation, members of the Country Club Congregational United Church of Christ have decided to remove "Country Club" from the church's name. 

The Brookside church prides itself on being committed to social justice and inclusivity. Which is why, says minister Chase Peeples, the name had to change.

"'Country Club' seems to connote the idea of exclusivity and wealth," he says. "That's not the Jesus I encounter when I read the gospel."

Facebook

Updated, 3:06 p.m. Monday: St. Teresa’s Academy alumnae, who were outraged after a group of students shared photos of them playing “Jews vs. Nazis” beer pong, say the girls’ apology is insufficient.

The apology came late Sunday evening after classmates allegedly shouted “Nazi” and “racist” at the girls during the Teresian homecoming dance.

Elle Moxley / KCUR 89.3

The students from St. Teresa’s Academy who posted photos of themselves drinking from cups arranged in the shape of a swastika are bullying the teenage girl who reported them.

That’s according to frustrated classmates who reached out to KCUR to say St. Teresa’s response to alleged anti-Semitism has been wholly inadequate.

Wikimedia -- CC

Alumnae of St. Teresa’s Academy are upset by the school’s lax response to social media posts that show current students posing with a swastika.

According to multiple alumnae who reached out to KCUR, seven students arranged plastic cups in the shape of a swastika while playing beer pong at a weekend party. They then shared photos of themselves with the swastika on Snapchat with the caption, “Girls night!”

Missouri Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal and Rep. Warren Love made news last month doing something that seems antithetical to their positions in government; hoping in Facebook posts for political violence.

Updated August 31 at 4 p.m. with comments from Love and Gov. Greitens:

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and Democratic elected officials are calling for a Republican lawmaker from southwest Missouri to step down after he posted on Facebook that people who defaced a Confederate statue should be “hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

Rep. Warren Love's GOP legislative colleagues are also condemning the Osceola Republican after he posted his reaction to the news that someone threw paint on a Confederate memorial at the Springfield National Cemetery. He wrote: “This is totally against the law. I hope they are found & hung from a tall tree with a long rope.”

The racial divide in Kansas City and across the U.S. is not just the result of individual prejudice, and developers like J.C. Nichols. We'll discuss this and more, with author Richard Rothstein, who's coming to Kansas City soon to talk about his new book, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America

Plus, is Kansas City's art scene homogenous? One outgoing artist weighs in. 

Guests:

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.

Have you ever revisited a favorite book from your childhood . . . to find that it is actually racist? As our society's thoughts on race continue to evolve, we'll consult the author of the new book Was the Cat in the Hat Black?: The Hidden Racism of Children's Literature, and the Need for Diverse Books.

Frank Morris / KCUR 89.3

On Sunday, several hundred people gathered in Mill Creek Park. They marched through the Country Club Plaza to counter the white supremacist movement and racism in general. Militia members were there to meet them. 

 

Like a number of people at the protest, Will Jones kept a wary eye on about two dozen armed men, dressed in camouflage and Kevlar, standing nearby.

 

Sgt. Alicia Brand / U.S. Army

Few chemical reactions are as complicated to humans the one that elicits the feeling of love. Today, we learn about a psychobiological approach to couples therapy. Then, we discuss how racial tensions have changed in America during the Trump administration, and find out how last weekend's tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, has affected leaders of Kansas City's diverse communities.

How are Kansas Citians reacting to the violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, and what's next?

Plus, development in the River Market has skyrocketed in recent years. The neighborhood is changing, but is it all for the better?

Guests:

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.

Wikimedia Commons

UPDATED, 4:50 p.m. Monday: The Kansas State University Police Department is investigating after a noose was found hanging from a tree on campus Friday.

The school's Office of Institutional Equity received the complaint. The noose was removed by campus police.

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