Robert E. Gutsche Jr.

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The city of Iowa City’s website promotes its “small-town hospitality” and its focus on “culture.” But a closer look at Iowa City, home to 70,000 and the University of Iowa, reveals a community trying to redefine itself as urban African-Americans relocate to the area.

This is the focus of Robert E. “Ted” Gutsche’s book, A Transplanted Chicago: Race, Place and the Press in Iowa City (McFarland, 2014). In it, he takes on the “Southeast Side” and all its meanings.

“Southeast Side” has become a coded term by local press to describe an area of Iowa City it associates with crime and unruliness, sometimes even using the term when the actual crime does not occur on the Southeast Side.

“Home to a mixture of white townies and new, black arrivals from Chicago, St. Louis, and other metro regions in the Upper Midwest,” Gutsche writes, “the Southeast Side is known—mythically—as a bastion of affordable housing, black families, and stories of devious behavior.”

Through original interviews and research, Gutsche, a former reporter, shows just how wrong the press has it about Iowa City’s Southeast Side.

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