It's Swagger Time: Kansas City is Amazing
News flash: I don’t need anyone to clue me in to the fact that Kansas City is amazing.
Recently, there have a been a lot of stories about Kansas City in the national media, and as proud KCers, we get excited when our beloved home gets a shoutout. From garnering named one of the best places to travel to by National Geographic to getting some love from Inc. for being a great place to live without hemorrhaging your bank account, our city has been in the news. Heck, even USA Today gave the mayor’s Christmas tree at Crown Center some serious props. There was, though, one article focused on KC that left a lot of us feeling a little bewildered.
A Vogue Magazine feature in November entitled “A Guide to Kansas City, Missouri” started out with the writer confessing she didn’t even know where KCMO was. She conjectured that perhaps it was nestled up against Georgia or Alabama (because, you know, what’s 800 miles between friends?). I have to admit, from that point on I felt less like a reader and more like a mom earnestly correcting my child’s book report as I looked for other looming factual fallacies. The piece eventually got better, but it did start a local conversation about how dumb people are about the Midwest. And let me tell you, a lot of people are next-level dumb.
My daughter is going to college in California, and almost every day she texts me with the latest idiot question she has received about being from Kansas. My favorite to date is when she was quite earnestly asked, “Did you go to a real high school, or did you have to work on a farm?”
Luckily, my daughter is amused by the questions and doesn’t mind at all being called Kansas. Yes, that’s right, most people don’t call her by her given name but instead refer to her as Kansas. I will say Kansas Kuehl does has a lovely alliterative quality.
I do, though, understand Kansas Citians getting miffed when they feel their hometown is not getting the respect it deserves. But why waste our time worrying about the unenlightened? We live in an amazing city and if people don’t get that, well, bless their hearts.
Who cares that some Yankee from Vogue Magazine can’t locate us on a map and has no problem admitting it? Who knew that not even having a vague idea where the 37th-largest city in the United States is located — a city that’s home to former President Harry S. Truman, the World Series-winning Royals and football star Patrick Mahomes — is something to brag about or attempt to dismiss as a humorous aside? Perhaps a geography class at the New York City Learning Annex is in the writer’s future. Even better, maybe Mayor Sly James can give her a gift certificate for the class from the people of Kansas City.
This is my way of saying we can’t worry about the opinions of people who either choose to remain uninformed or are just dullards. That’s not how an individual or a city attains new heights. The metro needs to keep on its path of revitalization, big ideas and creativity. Sure, we’ve got our share of problems, but it’s like raising a family. There are always going to be problems. Sometimes those problems are dire, and sometimes there’s going to be infighting (#airport).
We also can’t have our self-esteem rest on what other people think of us. (Take it from me, who, thanks to sharing my opinions in print, has gotten everything from scolding epithets to an organized hate mail campaign. If I believed everything people said, wrote or drove to my house to tell me, I’d be reduced to not leaving my bed and subsisting on a diet of clearance Williams Sonoma Peppermint Bark and Bravo TV.) If a publication is smart enough to write about Kansas City, well, good for them for their journalistic intelligence, and extra points if they go above and beyond the gimmie that is a story about Kansas City barbecue. I love my burnt ends, but as a city, we are more than smoked meats.
As we enter 2019, it’s time for Kansas City to, as my grandmother Stella would say, “quit hiding our light under a bushel” and, even better, quit needing the approval of others. Come on, KC. It’s time for us to get our swagger on.