THE SOUTH SIDE by Natalie Y. Moore
Kirkus Star


A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation
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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 legacy…and 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.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-137-28015-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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