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Natalie Moore Acts As A Conduit For Chicago’s Most Important Stories

Written by on May 11, 2021

Reporter, playwright, author and Chicago native Natalie Moore is deeply engrained in the fabric of the city. Her work covering segregation and inequality connects her directly with the community, sharing crucial stories that rarely get told. This is what her Chicago Sounds Like.

Are you from Chicago? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago called Chatham. Working class, middle class, black neighborhood, with lots of homes where the lawns were kept pretty pristine; but also apartment buildings, a lot of block clubs, a lot of neighbors who roll up their sleeves to make their community better. Chatham is also a neighborhood that because of segregation didn’t have as many amenities and didn’t have some of the same resources as other neighborhoods in the city.

Overall, in the city of Chicago, we have seen wealth rise… and we have seen poverty rise. We’ve also seen a shrinking of the middle class, and this is in neighborhoods throughout the city. And I think that this is the case in a place like Chatham: these types of communities are still trying to recover from the foreclosure prices from the [2008] economic crash. So, while the neighborhood still has its identity, and its ethos, it takes longer for these types of communities to have a comeback and to also maintain stability.

So where do you live now?

I live in Hyde Park currently. We love Hyde Park. It’s a walkable neighborhood, and there are actually corner stores that don’t have Plexiglas here… and you can get items. A lot of options for entertainment for food, proximity to the lake. We love living here.

What got you initially interested in journalism?

I was kind of oddly obsessed with what I wanted to do at a young age. At 13, I decided I wanted to be a journalist. I liked to read, I liked to write, and I thought journalism was a way to marry those things. People weren’t saying the term “social justice” in the late 1980s the way they are now, but I did think that it was journalism. The pen is mightier than the sword. How you can effect change, you can tell people’s stories.

Sometimes as a writer, I see myself as a midwife and I become a conduit for these stories to get out into the world.

What draws you the most about Chicago?

Chicago is the quintessential American city, so the problems that we face here are problems that other cities face. The one that I write about the most and care about the most is segregation. That means wealth gaps between Blacks and whites with wages, with homeownership. What makes Chicago unique though, is that it’s a diverse city. You can have diversity and segregation coexist, whereas some other cities that are segregated, you don’t have the type of a third a third a third diversity of Black, white, and Latino that we have here.

And, you know, despite our problems, I still think that it’s the dopest city on the planet, and our food and our culture and our arts and the people are what make the city. And this is what we should lean on when we try to remake public policies.

What have you noticed from being a journalist during the pandemic?

Conventional wisdom has said, even in our own newsroom, that you can’t do radio from home. You need a studio, you need to be out in the field, you need to get good tape. The fact that we were able to adapt speaks volumes of our resiliency. There are lots of challenges, but I think we persevered and didn’t miss a beat.

Any words you live by?

Probably sounds odd for a journalist, but my tagline on my Gmail is a Nikki Giovanni quote: “I’m so hip, even my errors are correct.”

Follow Natalie Moore on Twitter!

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Interview edited for length and clarity by Luis Mejia Ahrens