Racism | KCUR


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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.

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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.


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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.


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."


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.

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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. 


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?


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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.

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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.

Ten years ago this month, a massive tornado nearly wiped Greensburg, Kansas off the map. KCUR's Frank Morris joins us to share how the town's efforts to rebuild became "a laboratory experiment in re-engineering the classic American small town."

Plus, a conference last month brought thousands to Kansas City to talk about "white privilege." We discuss what our local communities are doing to address and respond to the concept. 


At 1215 South Jefferson Avenue in St. Louis, a red brick building housed a chemical plant, owned by a black man who always dreamed of running his own business on a city block full of black business owners. In a new memoir to his father, the owner of Du-Good Chemical whose dreams became a reality, Kansas City writer Lewis Diuguid takes us back to that city block where he grew up.

Plus, how a favorite childhood pastime of catching bugs became an academic career for one KU grad student. 


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Kansas City Public Library officials say they plan on pressing charges after several marks of racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic graffiti were found inside the Central Library location downtown Sunday.

A library statement says the graffiti was found in a men's bathroom stall, on a portrait of former First National Bank executive Taylor S. Abernathy, on a glass window near the library's main entrance, and on a stairwell leading down to the library's vault level. 

All of the graffiti and the defaced portrait have been removed. 

The University of Missouri should emphasize diversity in its recruitment, train professors in the importance of diversity in their courses and increase outreach to improve diversity among faculty and staff, a systemwide task force recommended on Wednesday.

Those proposals were among priority items included in the task force’s report. It was responding to a comprehensive audit of diversity, equity and inclusion practices at the university conducted by the consulting firm IBIS.

The creator and editor-in-chief of MuslimGirl.com talks about the challenges facing Muslim women in the wake of Donald Trump's election. Then we examine the soundtrack of the Vietnam War, and listen to some of the songs that helped American troops get through the conflict.

A fraternity at MU has been suspended after members allegedly yelled racial slurs at black students in front of their fraternity house Tuesday night.

Administrators responded Wednesday afternoon by temporarily suspending the Delta Upsilon Fraternity. The university is also investigating the students involved in the incident to determine whether any individuals should also be punished. 

The confrontation came nearly a year after the MU campus erupted in protest over a similar incident, resulting in the resignation of the university system president.

This post will be updated as new information becomes available.



Two black women at the University of Missouri say they were called a racial slur during a confrontation with white students outside the Delta Upsilon fraternity house Tuesday night. 


According to a statement from the university's Legion of Black Collegians, a group of white students passed the two women and a member of the group called the women a racial slur. Members of the legion and university police were arriving to assess the situation when the statement says members of the Delta Upsilon fraternity began recording interactions between the police and black students while shouting slurs and obscenities.

Lindsborg Police Department

A man involved in a racist incident at a rural Kansas college has been trying to gain a foothold in state politics.

The chalk outlines of bodies and messages including, “Make Lindsborg White Again," scrawled on Bethany College sidewalks earlier this month rattled the campus and surrounding community

A police report of the chalkings from Sept. 3 names Gabriel James Wilson as a suspect.

TPPatriots / YouTube

The primary contest for Missouri Attorney General between Republicans Josh Hawley and Kurt Schafer has already been nasty, but some groups are saying a recent anti-Schaeffer commercial crosses a line.

A coalition of Asian-American groups, including the Asian American Chamber of Commerce of St. Louis, OCA St. Louis, the Missouri Asian American Bar Association, and the Asian American Bar Association of Kansas City, joined to condemn the ad. 

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Amidst rising tensions between law enforcement and communities of color across the nation, Black Lives Matter supporters joined forces with the Wichita Police for a cookout last weekend. What was originally planned as a protest turned into a picnic, where over 1,000 community members came together for food and dance.

What does it mean to be a white person who wants a place in the Black Lives Matter movement? Some say it starts by acknowledging you’re white. We talk about how to be what activists call ‘white allies.’