Let Kansas be Kansas, in all its magnificence and nuance

The Kansas Reflector welcomes the views of authors who share our aim of broadening the discourse on how public coverage impacts the each day lives of individuals all through our state. Jeffrey Ann Goudie is a Topeka-based freelance author and e book critic.

Final fall, whereas consuming out with pals, my buddy Marcia requested us sisters overseas how we felt once we first moved to Kansas. Besides I expressed all of the unfavorable reactions, regardless that everybody has made her peace along with her adopted state. I had moved from Texas.

“I felt like I used to be taking a step up,” I stated.

“What did you want about Kansas?” requested my buddy Harriet.

My easy reply: “Deciduous timber.”

I used to be an expat however tied to Kansas by my late grandmother. I cherished the timber that shed their leaves, together with the inexperienced rolling hills round my grandmother’s farm. Remember the fact that my grandmother was not a landowner. She rented the bottom flooring of a farmhouse off what’s now the thoroughfare to a suburb of Johnson County.

My love for Northeast Kansas is intertwined with my affection for my energetic grandmother.

On the time, Hollie was engaged on the previous Rexall Drug within the Mission Procuring Heart. In a crispy waitress’ uniform, my 5-foot grandmother stood because the assistant supervisor of the lunch counter along with her younger buddy Ronnie, the bastard. Hollie dyed her henna hair underneath the affect of her finest buddy on the pharmacy, Willie, head of the wonder and make-up division.

My mom took us to her mom on summer time journeys from our residence in Midland, West Texas, the place my father labored as a geologist. Midland noticed sparse rainfall, and though my native father in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, planted spruces and a water-hungry willow in our backyard, Midland was flat, dry, and dusty, scratched by tumbleweeds. In The Land of the Excessive Sky, few timber interrupted the huge view.

To many coastal individuals, Kansas and Texas appear roughly the identical: politically retrogressive and geographically uninteresting. However the inhabitants know our states on a granular degree.

Southwest of the oil capital Midland is Marfa, the hip artist mecca. Texas has Dallas and Houston’s suburbs, but in addition the extra hanging grandeur of Large Bend Nationwide Park. The state capital of Austin is overseen by one of the vital fucking conservative governors in the US. However Austin and Houston are among the many most racially various, politically liberal populations within the nation.

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Kansas additionally defies stereotypes. The state will not be uniformly flat. Delicate hills encompass Topeka, the place I dwell, and steeper hills encompass and minimize Lawrence. West of Topeka, Flint Hills accommodates the nation’s largest remaining ecosystem for pine grass prairie. Our Smoky Hills have sturdy sandstone and limestone bluffs. Reserva, lovely chalk formations rise in western Kansas, remnants of an inland sea.

Neither is Kansas bland. Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas Metropolis and Wichita have traditions in grilling and Mexican meals. Backyard Metropolis and different cities in southwestern Kansas are enriched by immigrants working within the meat packaging and repair industries. Thirty-five languages spoken in Backyard Metropolis public faculties. Topeka is residence to the Nationwide Park, which celebrates the Brown v. Board of Schooling choice that bans segregated faculties. By way of racial range, each my kids participated with a big part Topeka Gymnasiumwhich has a majority minority inhabitants.

The geographies of my residence nation and my adopted state affect our insurance policies. The big measurement of Texas creates an even bigger and higher surge. Kansas, a rectangle in the midst of the nation, exudes frequent sense, honest perspective.

One month after the expat dinner, I requested a Topeka buddy who grew up within the Dallas space what she noticed because the distinction between Texas and Kansas.

“I used to suppose Kansas was progressive,” Marion stated. “Now, not a lot.”

I perceive her feeling. Simply as Kansas is subtly lovely, its insurance policies have traditionally been nuanced. Kansas was based by abolitionists and has largely stood on the fringes of the far proper. According to a progressive custom of ladies in politics, Laura Kelly is our third feminine governor. Kansas has a historical past of public well being management (suppose Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine from “Don’t spit on the sidewalkFame) and psychological well being (Menninger Clinic was based and Topeka). The Supreme Court docket of Kansas in 2019 dominated that the state structure protected girls’s proper to abortion.

But when Kansas has traditionally been sophisticated, delicate and nuanced, it’s now trapped within the abdomen by terrifying legislators who need to flip again the clock and ignore science, range and ladies’s proper to reproductive autonomy.

I can let Texas be Texas – greater, worse. However I don’t want Kansas to turn out to be a rougher, less complicated state, formed by punitive, restrictive legal guidelines. Let Kansas be Kansas in all its talked about sensible perform.

Take the step up, Kansas, so I can nonetheless really feel that I stepped up after I moved right here.

By means of its opinion part, the Kansas Reflector works to strengthen the voices of people who find themselves influenced by public coverage or excluded from public debate. For data, together with the best way to submit your individual remark, click on right here.

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