Apparently, social life in Kansas City among the millennial set is not nearly as harmoniously diverse as light beer commercials promise and city boosters hope. In fact, according to the Kansas City Star, black millennials are packing their bags and moving to more welcoming cities.
The problem, said millennial Melanie Guthrie from Chicago, is that “KC didn’t really have many scenes where I could meet other young black professionals like myself.” Pharmacy consultant Pamela Awe, also from Chicago, was a bit less delicate. “All you see in KC,” said Awe, “are Caucasians.”
Credit goes to reporter Aaron Randle for taking this story in a more interesting direction than the headline–“Is KC social scene for whites only? Young blacks say they’re ‘tolerated,’ not welcomed”–would suggest.
The transition from the expected to the interesting occurs in the ninth paragraph. One “bright spot” for black millennials, reports Randle, was the “Recovery Sundays” parties held regularly at Californos in Westport. An earlier article referred to the event as “one of the most chic and polished hangouts for Kansas City’s black millennial crowd.”
All seemed to be going well until a Sunday in August when random gunfire resulted in the death of an innocent partygoer, a black off-duty Lee’s Summit policeman named Thomas Orr. The shooting not only ended the Recovery Sundays event, but it also depressed business throughout Westport.
Randle reports that nightclub owners in Westport are wary of hip hop music given the kind of crowd it attracts. He provides ample evidence to make that case, but he also allows one proprietor to make the counter case.
“You’re trying to blow this into a race thing, and it’s just not,” said Bill Nigro. “It’s not about racism, it’s about safety. It’s about guns. That’s all it’s about.”
“People get afraid to talk about race,” Nigro continued, “but you have to talk about it when you’re in the nightlife business. Security, too. They go hand-in-hand. And if you don’t talk about those two things, it’ll put you out of business.”
Without intending to, 610 Sports Radio host Carrington Harrison confirmed Nigro’s point. “If you’re like me — young and black — you have to compromise,” Harrison told the Star. “Either you’re going to the nicer areas in the city and not hearing the music you want to hear, or you’re going to a part of town that you might not prefer to go to.”
If “diversity” means mixing with people of other races, the “nicer areas” would seem a more likely destination. If “diversity” means mixing with people just like yourself, it has no real meaning at all.