Nina Moore speaks on race relations in America at OzSpeaks

Nina Moore discussed the current political climate, race in media and the “federalization of crime” in Marano Campus Center on Thursday night.

Moore, a professor in political science at Colgate University, was recently named one of the best 300 professors in the United States by the Princeton Review, spoke to the audience openly about her upbringing on the south side of Chicago. Moore was motivated to make societal change because of her experiences of neglect by police and the courts to in the 1980 rape and murder of her friend Alfreda Creekmore.

In this case, Moore said that Creekmore’s assailant, Michael Madden, was known by the court and local authorities as a serial offender. Despite tying her motivation for reform to this experience from early in her life, Moore’s biggest goal is prison reform and a shift toward rehabilitating prisoners into society.

Moore said that she does not like how criminals and their needs are swiftly dismissed in society.

“Criminals are the last minority it is okay to hate in this country,” Moore said.

According to Moore, media portrayal of black criminal activity helps to create a focus on incarceration. This focus has effects on using cheap inmate labor, while also bringing in revenue for those supplying goods to prisons by incentivizing incarceration.

Moving forward, Moore said  bringing in more professors to help her educate and rehabilitate prisoners into society is her ultimate goal.

Moore did not place the blame for federalizing crime and having such a divided government on any single group, as she made clear in her most recent book, “The Political Roots of Racial Tracking in American Criminal Justice.” One group she did speak to was the black voters in the U.S. Since the early 1900s, Democrats have easily carried the black vote, but Moore asked black voters to ask what they are getting for their vote. With other minority groups such as Latinos and LGBTQ voters, Moore says there is consistency on voting for policy and not always following a single political party.

“You have to vote for the policy and what the policy campaigns on,” said Eusebio Omar van Reenen, an Oswego State sophomore studying political science.

Coming from a common law parliamentary government system in his home of Namibia, van Reenen said that Americans should be grateful for their political system because of the diversity in opinion between the two main political parties.

The divide among political parties in this country is clear but as a society, and specifically at Oswego State, issues of inequality are not completely escapable.

“I believe there are instances where students are grappling with these issues and those type of interactions on a daily basis,” said Dan Roberts, Associate Dean of Students at Oswego State. “A lot of that stuff will infiltrate our campus and infiltrate the way we think.”

Moore and Roberts agreed that the best way to treat the issues of racial inequality is to simply inform students and allow them to their own opinions.

“We’re all ultimately responsible for the persistent role race plays in the criminal justice system,” Moore said.

Roberts hopes students at Oswego State will continue to have conversations about race and inequality outside of talks like the one hosted Thursday night.

“I see in every single one of our students I interact with this desire to want to affect change and this energy and this hunger to inform themselves on how to do that,” Roberts said.

Moore said that presenting honest information is more important than diversity. Pointing to examples of mainly white men in politics and a majority white Supreme Court making some of the biggest racial reforms in the U.S. However, Moore sees the value in exposing students to all cultures and ideologies and letting students form their own opinions.

“I don’t see it primarily about them [minority groups], but rather about exposing other students to the fact there are other experiences and different perspectives,” Moore said.

Working in the area of judicial reform, Moore saw instances of criminals being taken advantage of. Seeing a grown man helpless and crying out for help because expenditures were not tracked well and he lost money to struck a chord with Moore.

“I intend to see to it that folks that are from my background are getting a hearing at the table,” Moore said.

 

Photo: Haofeng Deng | The Oswegonian