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Chicagoan Tired of New Yorkers Asking How She Survived City's South Side

By Justin Breen | August 27, 2015 7:52am
 Moriah Dowd, a recent Brooks High School graduate, said New Yorkers routinely ask her if she knows Chief Keef.
Moriah Dowd, a recent Brooks High School graduate, said New Yorkers routinely ask her if she knows Chief Keef.
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Facebook/Moriah Dowd; Getty Images

CHICAGO — In the five months since she visited New York University, Roseland resident Moriah Dowd, 18, said she's been bombarded with the same questions: "How did you survive?" and "Do you know Chief Keef?"

The recent Gwendolyn Brooks graduate, who's leaving for NYU on Saturday to study film, this week tweeted those exact questions with a photo of her looking exhausted and zombie-like. The tweet was retweeted hundreds of times as of Wednesday afternoon.

"My face in the photo perfectly describes how I feel when people ask me this stuff," Dowd said Wednesday. "I guess I can't really be too upset because it's the way Chicago is portrayed in the media. I can't really blame people that much, but sometimes it gets annoying. I love Chicago and a lot of good things come from Chicago, but no one really ever pays attention to it."

Dowd had a 3.4 grade point average and most of her tuition at NYU — one of the top film schools in the country that boasts directors Martin Scorsese and Joel Cohen as alumni — is being paid for through scholarships. Her parents, Annette and Darnell, are an assistant principal and teacher, respectively, with Chicago Public Schools.

Justin Breen says Dowd has never seen a shooting on her block:

Dowd said she's never seen a shooting on her block but on Aug. 6, just around the corner, Kansas State student Briona White, 22, was found shot to death.

"I know that even though my block is safe, I can't say the same for surrounding places," Dowd said. "I've always been taught to be cautious when I'm walking places."

When Dowd visited NYU in April, she said she felt "a lot safer" in the heart of Manhattan. When she met future classmates and told them she resided in Chicago, Dowd said usually their first question was how she "survived" living on the South Side. Those conversations and questions have continued since then on NYU student Facebook groups, Dowd said.

Dowd described the Chief Keef question — Dowd does not know the rapper, who this week announced the birth of his fifth child, Sno FilmOn Dot Com Cozart — as "the silliest question ever."

"Just because Chief Keef is from the South Side doesn't mean that we know him and things like that," she said.

And Dowd, who wants to direct films or television shows, said she feels responsible for changing people's minds about her hometown.

"People shouldn't only focus on the negative things in Chicago," she said. "I guess I want people to take a little closer look. I'm a kid from Roseland going to NYU. That's not common at all. When I become successful, I can tell people I came from the South Side of Chicago."

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