Michelle Tyrene Johnson | KBIA

Michelle Tyrene Johnson

Michelle is a reporter covering race and culture for KCUR and also is part of a Diversity Initiative project that produces audio storytelling with reporters in St. Louis, Hartford, Conn. and Portland, Ore.

As a fourth-generation Kansas City, Kansas native and resident, Michelle has been a newspaper reporter, an employment attorney, a diversity and inclusion speaker, a columnist and is a local and national playwright. She is an author of three books about diversity and one book about her grandmother.

Michelle received her degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and her law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia, but bleeds red and blue all day, every day.

 

Segment 1: Mayor Sly James is bringing his service to a close, but not before some serious discussions.

Race and equity have been contentious issues in Kansas City for a long time. Mayor Sly James is hosting forums for residents to come together and have constructive discussions.

Some restaurants just have a corner on the market for a particular dish.

In this case, that would be Kitty’s Café and its pork tenderloin sandwich. The longtime Kansas City establishment is on 31st Street, just east of Martini Corner and just west of the longtime non-profit Operation Breakthrough on Troost Ave.

It's more diner than restaurant, with six stools tightly together at the counter tops. Outside, there's some patio seating, but Kitty’s is not a destination-stop kind of place. Most of the orders are take-out and you can only pay with cash.

 

Sam Shockley went to school with the black students who eventually desegregated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. So he was more than familiar with the harshness of racism.

When he moved to Kansas City in the 1950s, he experienced a different brand of it.

“Here it was more covert,” Shockley says.

Segment 1: Is the phrase "white people" becoming taboo?

On this episode, we explore the concept of whiteness as an identity and why some people are uncomfortable with the term.

  • Micah Kubic, author, Freedom, Inc. and Black Political Empowerment
  • Lona Davenport, program coordinator, Division of Diversity and Inclusion at UMKC

Segment 2, beginning at 33:50: How Shakespeare can help prisoners improve their social skills.

Segment 1: For All The World To See exhibit at the Black Archives of Mid-America.

A nationally touring exhibit from NEH on the Road has made its way to Kansas City. "For All The World To See" displays photographs and other visuals from the civil rights era. We talked about the ways art and culture influence each other.

Segment 1: New Shawnee Mission schools superintendent on his plans for the district. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women are three to four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related causes and the rate of infant mortality for black infants is almost double that of white infants. An organization in Kansas City is trying to turn those numbers around.

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.

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