by Hermene Hartman
Natalie Moore is a journalist covering the South Side for WBEZ. She is an author. Her new book is a modern day look at Chicago segregation, South Side.
Your new book, South Side, is a fresh view on the South Side of Chicago. Why did you write the book, what did you hope to achieve?
I want people to think about past and current segregation in this city and region. It’s not something that’s widely discussed but I find it to be the common denominator when we consider the issues of neglect and inequities in our black neighborhoods. Segregation has been deliberate and harmful despite all of the loveliness in black communities. I’m a proud South Side girl but I understand how separate but unequal is undermining. I also want people to understand their own housing choices – from Deerfield to Harvey.
What did you learn from writing the book?
There is some resistance to point toward segregation as the culprit. Some black people I interviewed wondered if I meant that white people had to be our neighborhood saviors. I’m glad I got that pushback early on because I address it in the book. No white people are not our saviors. No we don’t ‘need’ white people. I’m not saying black people or black neighborhoods are bad and need fixing. The system of segregation needs to be dismantled because it puts black communities at a disadvantage – from housing values to food access. It’s about resources.
How do you see the city moving forward?
I also emerged a bit more optimistic after writing this book. If the city and region want to move forward, there are scholars and public policy people who have some solutions. I lay some of those out in the last chapter. It’s a matter of political will. Not to mention changing people’s perceptions.
You address head on Chicago’s problem of segregation, do you think Chicago will ever be fully integrated?
Chicago is fascinating because it’s so diverse but so segregated. I don’t think desegregation will happen overnight or even in a generation but it’s something to strive for to make sure all residents have a fair shake. Banks and lending institutions still find ways to discriminate in black communities.
Do you think Chicago will ever have another Black mayor?
Yes…but I’m not sure when.
What are your favorite books?
Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Great Gatsby, Beloved, Cat’s Eye, The Warmth of Other Suns, Bel Canto
What is your favorite restaurant?
My favorite restaurant recently closed — Lightwood
Do you consider yourself an activist?
No; I’m a journalist.
In your view, what is the difference between the Activism of Black Lives Matters and those of the Civil Rights Movement?
BLM adopts intersectionality and is much more inclusive of women, gay and transgender people. The times have changed and the movement reflects progress. But I never want to pit one movement against the other.
What kind of stories do you like to cover most?
Stories that raise hell and can result in change.
Name three people you would most like to have dinner with?
Alice Walker, David Simon, Sade