Em-URGE-ing Voices

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On Being a Fed Up Kansan and Not Giving Up On Kansas

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February 18, 2014

I want to start off by saying three things.

  1. I have lived in Kansas for 19 of my 21 years.
  2. There is a deep-seated affection in my heart for the state I call my home.
  3. I am bone-weary and ready to run as far as I can.

What can I say? Being in the midst of what is quickly becoming a red state that bleeds oppressive legislation, you get worn down. Being a Kansan these days feels like an attack on all fronts. Hell, the rest of the country knows it too, if the current trend of national news outlets pumping out articles lambasting the current state of Kansas politics is any indicator to go by.

So, yeah. Sometimes, the silent chant of I can’t wait until I get out of here resounds throughout my head.

It’s a tired trope my tired frame yearns for: Young progressive wants to flee red state as quickly as possible, find their way to one of the liberal coastal meccas of the New York, Portland, San Francisco, etcetera, seeking to surround themselves with like-minded people, all while ignoring that they’ve left their homes behind, where the real work needs to be done, where the silence of the marginalized rings loudest. The hypocrisy of it doesn’t escape my attention.

But it’s hard y’all.

It’s hard to be in Kansas when Kansans are hurting. Where Kansans aren’t protected. Where Kansans aren’t safe. Where Kansans don’t think other Kansans should learn about sex-ed, or where Kansans think that Kansans’ fetuses have more of a right to their bodies than they do, or where Kansas legislators don’t even LIVE in our goddamn state but still think they know our needs as Kansans.  And so on. And so on.

It’s hard to love a place when it hurts you.  You feel small and unheard and unsafe and you wonder how you can stand to be here one more second. You feel like your body, your body apparently isn’t Kansan enough because why else are so many elements of it being attacked by fellow Kansans?

It hurts, to live in my home-state sometimes, and I’m not even close to being among those most marginalized by the current Kansas state of affairs, not by a long shot.

And that’s why I’ll be fed up, but I certainly won’t give up. Because there are other Kansans that feel just like I do. Like they are being run out of Kansas—except that they’ve got nowhere to run.

The Progressive Purge from Red States is real and is reserved for those privileged enough to be able to leave. But some folks can’t run—whether it’s because they can’t afford it, or they can’t leave behind family members, or they can’t find a job elsewhere. Which is why we can’t give up on red states. We can’t give up on Kansas.

I can’t give up on Kansas. Not yet. Not by a long shot.

It’s hard, yes. Every cut to education, or every attempt to deny access to abortion, or every targeted piece of legislation to the LGBTQ community feels like a lash against my skin. But we can’t make progress without moving forward.

Kansas hasn’t always been like this. And it won’t always be like this. Not if we stay, not if we fight, and not if we say we are Kansans, and we deserve to be treated like it by our government.

The Kansas State Motto: Ad Astra Per Aspera—to the stars through difficulty.

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