I grew up in Texas, mostly. My family is from Georgia and Alabama with a little Mississippi thrown in. I’ve lived in 9 states. I understand state lines. I understand borders. The Alabama part means I understand football rivalries. I went to Texas A&M. I get pride. I get yelling and thinking you’re better than someone else. I get it.
There is a cast system in the southeast part of the United States that is alive and well. Just ask the frat brothers at Ole Miss. Go to any of the small towns in Georgia and look at the neighborhoods on either side of the railroad tracks. There’s the wealthy, the social elite, the upper middle class, then the working class, and then the poor. Everyone beats on the poor. Racism is alive and well. Progress has be minimal since the 1960’s.
When I moved to Kansas City two and half years ago, I was initially impressed with the “forward progress” the city seemed to have in regards to treating people equally. The last 30 months have slowly whittled away this progress. Kansas City is great at the appearance of progress but it is divided at every turn. Kansas vs Missouri. Black vs White. Downtown vs Suburb. Rich vs Poor. Christian vs Non Christian. White Collar vs Blue Collar. The list goes on and on. The tricky part about dividing lines within Kansas City is they are passive aggressive. At least in Georgia, or Mississippi, they put in on their flag and not try to hide it.
I am not condoning treating any one differently based on appearance, skin color, gender, etc. I am condoning being honest and forward thinking.
Tuesday, Redeemer Fellowship, the church I am a member of in KC, hosted an event that promoted, and delivered, honest conversations and opinions about race issues in town. This (hopefully initial) meeting wasn’t about solving The problem. It wasn’t about simplifying issues. It was about being honest about the angst on both sides, where some of these issues come from, and what baby steps we can all take towards a unified Kansas City. It was about hope that God will continue to redeem His people, His people who call Kansas City and the surrounding areas home.
The biggest take away for me was about living in community with others, spending money in your own backyard, and voting for people who have unity as a core belief.
I live west of the plaza. Right now I can’t change that. But I can continue to be in community with people from other parts of Kansas City. Redeemer Fellowship makes that pretty easy. Different people come to services each week and I love playing boardgames on Monday nights with our neighbors living at 39ths and Baltimore. (Come out the 1st and 3rd Monday’s of the month to experience these amazing people and get beat at spades!). Being a minority in my high school in Austin Texas means I love different backgrounds and food. I aim to treat everyone compassionately regardless of background.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” – Plato
So what can I change? I can buy gas at the QT gas station on Westport road close to my house even though it costs $0.15-0.35 more per gallon than the QT by my office so that the money and buying market stays in my neighborhood and not down in the suburbs. I can continue to buy food at the local farmer’s markets (already one of my personal soap boxes). I can continue to be active in service projects in my community. I can also take a look at who is running for public office and make sure I’m voting for people based on their committment to unifying Kansas City.
What can you do?
Pray. Pray for the people of Kansas City to love each other and to seek out relationships with each other. Buy local. Help your neighbor.