Tyrone is everywhere. He's a rap star, the gay black man on the "down-low," a baby daddy and the black man who climbed the corporate ladder to success. He's the media's mixture of black male stereotypes, and he's in desperate need of some serious deconstruction. In their first book together, journalists Natalie Y. Moore and Natalie Hopkinson delve into the complicated issues surrounding black masculinity as portrayed through the media, hoping to dispel many negative stereotypes associated with the hip-hop generation. Because it's nearly impossible to talk about hip-hop culture without discussing women, Moore and Hopkinson also dedicate chapters to the "video hoe" phenomenon, strippers and their relationships with their fathers, and interviews with adolescent black girls about their opinions on black boys. Each chapter offers an insightful, enlightening look at this hot-button, contemporary-American cultural issue.
Tell me about your latest book, Deconstructing Tyrone.
The book is narrative non fiction, and we wanted to do a project that was looking at media images that are out there around black men. The book also looks at black women, which also makes it a gender studies book. We wanted to challenge people on whatever their preconceived notions of black masculinity are, broaden their minds on some of these issues, and really create dialogue about what's going on.
Tell me a little bit more about the images of black men and black women that are discussed in the book?
We did a lot of reporting for this book. There are chapters on black men in the workplace, Detroit "hip-hop" mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, a political prisoner in Indianapolis, women in hip-hop and how they negotiate their gender space in such a hyper-masculine industry, and strippers and their relationships with their dads; it's a real variety of voices in the book.
How did your background in journalism influence the subject matter of this book?
Natalie Hopkinson and I are both trained reporters. We saw that a lot of the critique that gets out there is pretty one-sided, so we felt that we should give a voice to some of these issues. We took our newspaper and journalism skills and did a lot of interviews, so each chapter is almost like a magazine article. Our goal was to get different voices out there on these difficult subjects.
What type of news do you generally cover as a reporter?
When I was in Detroit, I was covering Detroit pretty hard—mostly hard news. I was covering city council, and that's how Kwame Kilpatrick got to be a subject [in the book]. My background had been working as a daily newspaper girl. [When Natalie H. and I started work on Tyrone], both of us dropped what we were doing. [At the time], she was getting her PhD and I was working in Detroit.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to read, play the piano and also spend time with family and friends.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished The Known World by Edward P. Jones, and I just started a book that I'm writing a review on for Bitch called Dr. Rice in the House. It's an anthology of different writers, scholars and artists talking about Condoleezza Rice. It should be out in the winter issue.
Got any favorite local hangouts?
I like Cuatro on 21st and Wabash. One of my favorite restaurants is Vermilion, and I also like the Bungalow.
What are you working on these days?
I'm at Chicago Public Radio at their public affairs desk in the new Englewood bureau, so I'm covering the South Side. It's one of the new bureaus that the station has opened, and I'm working news features, focusing on a lot of urban issues.
What is the other Natalie, Natalie Hopkinson, up to?
She is an assignment editor for the Outlook section of the Washington Post.