The South Side A portrait of Chicago and American segregation

Natalie Y. Moore

Book - 2016

"Mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel have touted and promoted Chicago as a "world class city." The skyscrapers kissing the clouds, the billion-dollar Millennium Park, Michelin-rated restaurants, pristine lake views, fabulous shopping, vibrant theater scene, downtown flower beds and stellar architecture tell one story. Yet, swept under the rug is the stench of segregation that compromises Chicago. The Manhattan Institute dubs Chicago as one of the most segregated big cities in the country. Though other cities - including Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Baltimore - can fight over that mantle, it's clear that segregation defines Chicago. And unlike many other major U.S. cities, no one race dominates. Chicago is divided into black, white, and Latino, each group clustered in their various turfs. In this intelligent and highly important narrative, Chicago-native Natalie Moore shines a light on contemporary segregation on the South Side of Chicago through reported essays, showing the life of these communities through the stories of people who live in them. The South Side shows the important impact of Chicago's historic segregation - and the ongoing policies that keep it that way"--

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New York : St. Martin's Press 2016.
Main Author
Natalie Y. Moore (author)
First edition
Physical Description
xii, 250 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 25 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages [227]-241) and index.
  • Map of the South Side of Chicago
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. A Legacy Threatened
  • 2. Jim Crow in Chicago
  • 3. A Dream Deferred
  • 4. Notes from a Black Gentrifier
  • 5. Separate and Still Unequal
  • 6. Kale Is the New Collard
  • 7. We Are Not Chiraq
  • 8. Searching for Harold
  • 9. Sweet Home Chicago
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
Review by Booklist Review

A proud South Side native and South Side bureau reporter for Chicago's NPR station, WBEZ, Moore seeks to dispel misconceptions about this large and diverse community, the heart of black America and a prime example of the consequences of persistent racial segregation. Moore tells the story of her African American family and their invisible lives in a middle-class neighborhood, a veritable black cocoon. Their experiences play in counterpoint to her thoughtful and clarifying investigation into the sources of the chronic economic and social afflictions plaguing most of the South Side and other segregated urban areas across the country, beginning with discriminatory banking and real-estate practices. Moore vividly, even poetically, describes neighborhood scenes bright and bleak; cites intriguing studies; conducts telling interviews about Chicago's public-housing debacle, struggling public schools, and the effort to eradicate food deserts; and critiques inaccurate, racialized media coverage. By bringing the South Side into focus as a place people cherish as home in spite of systematically racist obstacles to their well-being, Moore refines our perception of the realities of segregation and the many possible paths to change.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Moore, WBEZ's South Side reporter, documents the various ways in which the racial segregation of Chicago's neighborhoods has come to define this Midwestern city. Moore, a South Side resident herself, narrates an excellent history of residential as well as educational segregation within Chicago, despite the legal remedies that the courts have offered. The author believes that institutional racism, more than the class of the city's residents, has made it difficult for African Americans to advance in life, as other groups have done historically. Interviews with local business owners and teachers add much to strengthen Moore's arguments of tracing the efforts of residents to battle institutionalized racism. Moore incorporates stories of growing up in a middle-class household into the essays, which at times intrudes too much into the narrative and gives the book a false note, but this is a minor point. More important is that Moore focuses much of her discussions on productive solutions to problems, including the "food deserts" that affect cities such as Chicago, ways in which schools can be healthy institutions, and how neighborhoods can work together to improve lives. VERDICT An excellent work for all readers interested in knowing more about important, ongoing urban issues.-Amy Lewontin, Northeastern Univ. Lib., Boston © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A journalist who grew up comfortably in a black South Side Chicago neighborhood examines how racial segregation harms everybody. Moore (co-author: The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang, 2011, etc.) is a radio reporter in her beloved yet racially divided city of Chicago. "The legacy of segregation and its ongoing policies keep Chicago divided," she writes. In this deep-dive examination of segregation's many negative impacts (in neighborhoods, schools, retail businesses, crime, and politics), the author combines third-person journalism and intensely personal first-person sharing. Chicago has always been a city of neighborhoods (black, white ethnic Irish, white ethnic Polish, Chinese, etc.), which sounds charming. Unfortunately, those neighborhoods tend to serve as mainly impenetrable enclaves unfriendly to outsiders. The focus has intensified since 2008, given that Michelle Obama grew up in a black Chicago neighborhood and Barack Obama launched his political career in a segregated political environment. In the first-person chapter "Notes from a Black Gentrifier," Moore wrestles with how to alter the status quo, especially regarding housing. "I represented the wave of young black professionals moving in during the 2000s," she writes, "buying in to a historical legacyand the change to usher in an urban resurgence." Moore regularly challenges white stereotypes of blacks while simultaneously explaining how relatively well-to-do blacks stereotype less-fortunate individuals of the same race. That is especially true in her chapter about violent crime, "We Are Not Chiraq" (a combination of "Chicago" and "Iraq"). The chapter on the lack of high-quality grocery stores in black neighborhoods breaks new ground in a long-simmering discussion about food deserts. The pages about Whole Foods making a surprising decision to open a store in a black South Side neighborhood are also fresh. In a highly readable, conversational style, Moore demonstrates refreshing candor about how racial inequality infuses every aspect of daily life. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.