Really, Kansas isn’t all that bad

ReAnne Utemark

In my English class last semester, I had the opportunity to read a book called “What Kansas Means to Me.” I’ll admit that I wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about reading it, but after reading essays by Kansans who love Kansas and their thoughts about “Flyover Land,” it led me to analyze the stereotypes I and other Kansans perpetuate about the Sunflower state.

I am not originally from Kansas, I hail from the very different state of Nebraska. (Just kidding – Nebraska is kind of the same song, different verse.) However, I have been in the state long enough to, in good conscious, call myself a Kansan. When I would travel somewhere other than Kansas during high school or even now, when meeting someone, there would always be that exchange of homelands.

“Where are you from?”

“Texas, where are you from?”


“Oh, I’ve got to…there’s someone…OK bye!”


Before fully becoming aware of the wonderful aspects of Kansas, I would often make some joke about seeing Toto or riding a horse to school. After having a revelation of sorts, I no longer make a face or a joke after telling people I am from Kansas.

On a sensitive note, Kansas has found itself to be the buckle on the Bible Belt. With the Phelps family and the debate over intelligent design, we’re the head of the parade of moral crusades. Senator Sam Brownback is running as a very conservative Republican, which fits how most people think of Kansans. Kansans stick to their guns, although, apparently this is not true of establishments like the Olive Garden, which already has a no concealed carry sign in the window…

Despite all this, there is something remarkable about a state that waged its own Civil War away from the battlefields of the south and east. There is something remarkable about a state that perpetuated the very leftist, socialist agenda with newspapers published in Girard, Pittsburg and Iola. There is something remarkable about the people of Kansas, all over “Flyover Land,” even. These folks are often decent and hardworking, as the stereotype says, but they are far from ignorant, as the stereotype often continues.

Kansas has a fascinating history, one Kansans often forget in the glare of Dorothy’s slippers. Forget the stereotypes, remember that it was a Kansan whose name is on the Supreme Court decision to end segregation around the country. Innovators in the field of sports and aviation, actors, writers, musicians – Kansas has had them all. Sure, other states have had them, but Kansas has cultivated these minds while maintaining its agricultural roots. Sure their roots may have been extremist, but Kansans have a solid base to maintain their characters.

All of you “real” Kansans can keep your Jayhawks and your Wildcats and your Wheat Shockers and your Gorillas. Whatever. Give me the Huskers, any day. But, I can say I am very proud to be a (transplanted) Kansan. Oh, and I really did like “What Kansas Means to Me.”