April 4, 2016

Journalist Addresses Racial Segregation in Chicago

On March 31 at the International House (I-House), journalist Natalie Y. Moore discussed the politics behind policies that she said have sustained a stark racial divide in Chicago.

In her book The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, Moore attributes the ghettoization of Chicago to segregationist housing policies. The separate and unequal living conditions of black, white, and Latino communities is hardly unique to Chicago, although the city has maintained notoriety for such prominent segregation.

Black families are burdened with unfavorable loans, subprime mortgages, and low home value appraisals. She explained that this “black tax,” or the notion that blacks face more adversity than their white counterparts in their pursuit of success, is further demonstrated by fewer city services, resources for schools, and amenities in black communities.

Moore criticized the University for its history of supporting restrictive covenants that limited where black Chicagoans could live. Her condemnation was met by audience applause.

According to Moore, segregation is strikingly prevalent in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) system. Moore stated that CPS schools are more segregated than suburban schools. She added that while not all schools in black communities are low-performing, white families are wary to send their children there. Moore attributed the failure to further integrate CPS to Mayor Richard J. Daley, who served from 1955 until his death in 1976.

Moore also stressed the importance of outside business owners in the pursuit to tackle segregation. She urged policy-makers to help business owners understand the logistics of opening businesses in black communities and prove there is opportunity for success.

Moore noted that expensive stores are perceived by many members of the black community to be a “welcome mat for gentrification.” She argued, however, that the introduction of Whole Foods to Englewood does not compromise the community’s identity but rather ushers in a form of coexistence.

“When something good comes to a neighborhood, black people sometimes think it’s not for them,” Moore said.

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