Let Kansas be Kansas, in all its magnificence and nuance

Kansas Reflector welcomes op-eds from writers who share our objective to broaden the dialog about how public coverage impacts the on a regular basis lives of individuals in our state. Jeffrey Ann Goudie is a contract author and e-book critic from Topeka.

Final fall, after I was out for dinner with pals, my good friend Marcia requested us sister expats how we felt once we first moved to Kansas. Apart from me, all of them expressed adverse reactions, though all have made peace along with her adopted state. I had moved from Texas.

“I felt like I had taken a step up,” I stated.

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

My straightforward reply: “Deciduous timber.”

I used to be an expatriate however was linked to Kansas by means of my late maternal grandmother. I beloved the timber that shed their leaves, together with the inexperienced rolling hills round my grandmother’s farm. Thoughts you, my grandmother was not a landowner. She rented the underside ground of a ranch on what’s now the thoroughfare of a Johnson County suburb.

My love for northeast Kansas is intertwined with my affection for my feisty grandmother.

On the time, Hollie labored on the outdated Rexall Drug within the Mission Purchasing Middle. In a crisp waitress uniform, my five-foot grandmother sat as assistant supervisor of the lunch counter, subsequent to her younger good friend Ronnie, the soda. Hollie dyed her hair with henna beneath the affect of her greatest good friend on the drugstore, Willie, the wonder and make-up division supervisor.

My mom took us to her mom’s on summer season journeys from our residence in West Texas, Midland, the place my father labored as a geologist. Midland noticed little rain, and though my father from Kansas Metropolis, Missouri, planted pine timber and a water-hungry willow in our yard, Midland was flat, dry and dusty, scraped by tumbleweeds. In The Land of the Excessive Sky, few timber interrupted the sweeping view.

To many individuals who reside on the coasts, Kansas and Texas appear a lot the identical: politically retrogressive and geographically uninteresting. However residents know our states on the granular degree.

Southwest of the oil capital Midland is Marfa, the hip artist mecca. Texas has the sprawling suburbs of Dallas and Houston, in addition to the extra notable expanse of Massive Bend Nationwide Park. The state capital in Austin is overseen by probably the most persistent conservative governors in the US. However Austin and Houston are among the many most racially numerous, politically liberal populations within the nation.

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Kansas additionally defies stereotyping. The state isn’t uniformly flat. Mild hills encompass Topeka, the place I reside, and steeper hills encompass and intersect Lawrence. West of Topeka, the Flint Hills comprise the most important surviving ecosystem of the nation’s tallgrass prairie. Our Smoky Hills have rugged sandstone and limestone cliffs. In western Kansas, reserve, stunning chalk formations rise, remnants of an inland sea.

Kansas is not any slouch both. Lawrence, Topeka, Kansas Metropolis and Wichita have legendary traditions in barbecue and Mexican meals. Backyard Metropolis and different cities in southwest Kansas are enriched with immigrants working within the meat-packing and repair industries. Thirty-five languages are spoken in public colleges in Backyard Metropolis. Topeka is residence to the nationwide park celebrating the historic Brown v. Board of Training determination banning segregated colleges. By way of racial range, each my extensively separated youngsters had been current Topeka Excessive Collegewhich has a majority minority inhabitants.

The geographic location of my native state and my adopted state affect our politics. The sheer measurement of Texas makes for an even bigger and higher swagger. Kansas, a rectangle in the course of the nation, exudes a down-to-earth, down-to-earth angle.

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

“I used to assume Kansas was progressive,” stated Marion. “Effectively, not a lot.”

I perceive her sentiment. Simply as Kansas is subtly stunning, its politics is traditionally nuanced. Based by abolitionists, Kansas has principally opposed the fringes of the far proper. In line with a progressive custom of ladies in politics, Laura Kelly is our third feminine governor. Kansas has a historical past of public well being management (assume Dr. Samuel J. Crumbine of “Do not spit on the sidewalkfame) and psychological well being (the Menninger Clinic was based in Topeka). The Kansas Supreme Courtroom dominated in 2019 that the state structure protects girls’s proper to abortion.

But when Kansas was complicated, delicate and nuanced up to now, it’s now fooled of terrifying lawmakers in search of to show again the clock, ignoring science, range and girls’s proper to reproductive autonomy.

I could make Texas be Texas – larger, worse. However I do not need Kansas to develop into a grosser, extra simplistic state, made up of punitive, restrictive legal guidelines. Let Kansas be Kansas in all its vaunted utility.

Step up, Kansas, so I can nonetheless really feel like I stepped out after I moved right here.

By its opinion part, the Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of individuals affected by public coverage or excluded from public debate. Click on right here for info, together with the way to submit your personal feedback.

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