The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation (Moore)

Having lived on Chicago’s South Side for 8 years (granted it was Hyde Park), the description of this book caught my attention. Moore, a local NPR reporter and a past and current resident of Chicago’s South Side has combined an analysis of the historical causes of Chicago’s segregated neighborhoods, with a memoir of how her family experienced this segregation and how she encounters it in her neighborhood of Bronzeville. She also works outward from there to show how neighborhood segregation is not an isolated or accidental issue, but how it intersects with our “apartheid school system,” health and food issues, and political power. Underlying all of this, Moore argues convincingly is race.

To her credit, Moore is not all doom and gloom. She identifies some pieces of hope, even if it often moves in fits and starts.

Two issues, both about the writing, were minor obstacles. First, Moore couldn’t seem to locate the register she wanted to write in. In other words, some of the writing is accessibly academic while other parts are quite casual. It made for a kind of whiplash experience. Second, I found more than a few occasions where I questioned the editing of her work – word choices that didn’t make sense, sentences that didn’t follow from each other.

Still, as insight into Chicago’s South Side and case study for America, I think this is an excellent book.

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