Hearne: So Many Caucasians, So Few Hip-Hop Bars

Which is it…

Too many white folks or not enough blacks? Does not playing hip-hop music at dance clubs equate to racism? Should opinion-based writing appear on the local newspaper of record’s front page disguised as a news story?

Just as it was easy peasy for the Kansas City Star to lay down an exaggerated characterization of Kansas City as a “murder capital” a few months back, it was equally effortless for one of the newspaper’s cub reporters to serve up an exaggerated, racist spin on KC’s social scene for “young, black professionals.”

All it took was a handful of out of context quotes from 20-something black millennials and a couple of of unhappy deejays and voila!

What’s missing in KC, the story says, is “a hotbed of millennial upswing and Midwestern hospitality” for the upwardly mobil urban crowd.

Especially compared to the scenes in Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta.

The headline: Is KC social scene for whites only?

Of course it is…at least according to the half dozen or so people quoted.

The real question:

Is the dearth of KC nightclubs catering to upscale, young African Americans a case of rampant racism or simply too few people in the demo to support a scene?

Clearly the latter is the case.

Because missing in action in the lengthy piece was the fact that we live in a supply-demand world – where if the demand was there along with the customers to support it – any number of business people black or white would rise to the occasion.

Just like if KC had a large enough population and NBA or NHL fan base, we’d probably have one or both of those teams.

Unfortunately we don’t.

The fact of the matter is that Kansas City is a small midwestern metro and there are any number of other amenities – from radio stations to restaurants – that can be found in far larger cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas that you won’t find here.

That’s just common sense.

Cuz if there aren’t enough bodies to support a given scene, you won’t stay in business long.

On top of which, the urban populations of Dallas, Atlanta and Chicago dwarf that of Greater KC.

The Dallas area has like 7 million people, Atlanta more than 5 million and Chicago more than 9 million.

Compared to KC’s paltry 2 million.

Plus those city’s non white demographics blow KC’s away.

Dallas for example skews 50 percent white, 25 percent black.

Atlanta’s black population is nearly double that of its white population.

Chicago is 32 percent black and 31.7 percent white.

Kansas City racial makeup: 74 percent white to 12 percent black.

Get the picture?

All of which makes it far from surprising that a 26 year-old African American systems engineer from Atlanta quoted in the Star story says, “All you see in KC are Caucasians.”

Geez do the math, dude.

All of that said, do those statistics alone render KC a hotbed of racism?

Of course cities like Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta are likely to have a more vibrant upscale urban nightlife scene than KC.

Yet given how the writer stitched it all together in an endlessly long piece, it made it appear that two or three bars not wanting to play hip-hop music rendered the Cowtown racist.

The bottom line:

Remember that line, follow the money?

When and if the area’s young urban professional population grows large enough, there’ll be folks falling over themselves to cater to that crowd.

Until then, you know what they say; size matters!

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20 Responses to Hearne: So Many Caucasians, So Few Hip-Hop Bars

  1. Harwood Benjamin says:

    You used city-only stats for the other cities, but metro-area stats for KC, so you’re not making apple to apple comparisons.

    According to the 2010 census, the racial composition of Kansas City was: White: 59.2% (non-Hispanic white: 54.9%) Black or African American: 29.9% Hispanic or Latino (of any race): 10.0%.

    • admin says:

      I used metro wide stats for the other cities as well,..

      As in Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington and “greater” Atlanta and Chicago.

      Everybody knows KCMO is far smaller and has a larger percentage of African Americans…albeit not so much, an affluent millennial populations of African Americans

  2. Phaedrus says:

    I didn’t read the Star article, but as you rightly point out, a lack of hip hop bars doesn’t imply racism.

    If entrepreneurs wanted to open hip hop bars and were denied a license or something, that might imply racism.

    In today’s age of “everybody’s a victim of something”, I doubt many people want to understand the difference.

    • admin says:

      Well said. Phaedrus…

      FYI, they also think it’s racist that the non hiphop dance clubs won’t play the music though

  3. Rainbow Man says:

    I thought it was a good topic to explore.. but the article wouldn’t have passed an editors desk at any college paper. The most combustible allegation in the article was hearsay…not even direct sourced.

    • admin says:

      I can tell you this, Rainbow;

      It would have gotten a heckuva lot more scrutiny in the Art Brisbane era before all the body bags.

      And somewhat obviously, no reporter who ever worked at 18th and Grand could have flipped the tables and used a handful of random 20-somethings, a few DJs, an unnamed source and the reporter’s cousin to paint a story purporting the opposite view.

      That a handful of millennials are grousing that there’s no upscale clubs for them that play hip-hop is – well, not a non story – but a no big deal story. Because obviously if anybody thought they could make money using that theme they totally would.

      Stuart Solomon gave it a pretty good go at 39th and Main in the old grand Emporium room but threw in the towel and has a more mainstream, hipster hang at present.

      There’s a lot of things people here – me included – wish Kansas City had. Which comes with the turf being a medium small city.

      I’m sure in time someone will find the right concept and location. Until then…

      • Rainbow Man says:

        You are right. The headline and lead sounded like it was about a millennial minority problem for our city.. and it became a long beef session about clubs by DJs..

  4. chuck says:

    This article by the K.C. Star served it’s intended purpose. It further alienates and angers blacks against whites.

    The Democrat Party, here in town, needs blacks to be outraged and angry at whites when they vote.

    The K.C. Star, indebted to the Democrat Party Politicians that subverted taxes from the middle class to support the local paper of record, is serving it’s master. That master is in no way, “Objective Journalism” and the reporting of facts for the citizens of Kansas City.

    The K.C. Star’s raison d etre is to promote Progressive candidates into sinecure, money and power at the expense of the middle class and in service to their masters.

  5. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Oh look, another mainstream media outlet pandering to the victim-hood mindset in order to get clicks or shares. Shocking. Hearne perfectly illustrates why that article was complete and total garbage.

  6. Libertarian says:

    I noticed the line about “having to go to a part of town where we might be in danger”.

    Kinda says it all, eh?

    • David Nelson says:

      That line stood out to me as well. It was from Carrington Harrison who is on 610 Sports. Actual quote was “If you’re like me — young and black — you have to compromise. 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.”

      • admin says:

        That was a choice line, David…

        But isn’t that the way life is in general. You go to a restaurant or store and they’re playing whatever music is they’re playing.

        There are some very specific reasons businesses select music, art, decor, etc.

        The bottom line is that if someone thought they could make a ton of dough playing hip-hop in an upscale atmosphere in one of the more upscale parts of town, they totally would. And one day they probably will.

        In the meantime, we all have choices to make. Nothing particularly radical to me there.

  7. David Nelson says:

    Hearne – curious why you did not put link to the article. I did google the headline you included in your story and it did pop right up.

    • admin says:

      Guess I should – and I now will – but I’m generally hesitant to see readers off the site and if you’re not a Star subscriber you may have a hard time connecting.

      What did you think of the story?

  8. Guy Who Says What Others Think says:

    Everyone in the metro saw what happened in Westport with America’s Pub.

  9. Harry Balczak says:

    Walking into a crowded hip hop bar lowers your life expectancy by 20 years? Who wants that?

  10. Rap the Musical, now with no rap music. says:

    Your nonunion mexican blog equivalent had a good point the other day. It is pretty out of touch and racist to assume that hip hop is only a black thing and also that blacks only listen to hip hop.

    Gone are the days where you could play ‘where’s waldo’ at a rock show and spot the black guy.

    It is worth noting that KC’s two biggest rap stars are a 50 year old guy who plays tons of shows a year for majority white crowds- even playing the Juggalo festival every year…and a white guy who graduated from Blue Valley North (Mac Lethal) who does ironic raps.

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