The Political Roots: Professor Nina Moore Introduces New Book

On Thursday, February 12, Associate Professor of Political Science Nina M. Moore gave a presentation on her book titled The Political Roots of Racial Tracking in American Criminal Justice. Her lecture took place in the O’Connor Campus Center (COOP) and will also appear on C-SPAN’s Book TV channel in the upcoming week.

Moore has been teaching at Colgate since 1998. She has dedicated her academic and professional career to investigating the role of race in politics and the United States’ judicial system in particular. She has published many works addressing this and related topics, namely Governing Race: Politics, Policy and the Politics of Race, published in 2000.

 In 2009, Moore began her four-year term on the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct. In her most recent book, Moore confronts what she believes to be one of the main human rights issues with which our country is currently dealing and has been for decades.

Growing up in the Robert Taylor Homes housing project in Chicago, Ill., Moore experienced firsthand the intrusive but scarcely effective police force. The involuntary apartment searches to which many of the residents were subject created a significant wedge between the residents and law enforcement officials. Yet, the residents did not resist or challenge the

occurrence of these intrusions. 

“Everyone was complicit,” Moore said. 

Her book expands on this type of injustice and differential treatment imposed on blacks. It also considers which forces drive our nation to enable the race problem and to avoid remedying these social inequalities.

“1 out of 5 black persons is projected to go to prison at some point of his/her life,” Moore said.

Moore devotes a major portion of her book to investigate the actions of Congress, specifically its Racial Justice Agenda, to explain how we deal with the issue of race on a national scale. 

While Moore calls attention to individual members of Congress and the role they have played in supporting racial reform, she more broadly explains that the overwhelming representation of African Americans in the criminal system is due to the

federalization of crime.

“Post-conviction punishments strip these “ex-cons” of basic aspects of opportunity, liberty, right to vote, parental rights, etc.” Moore said.

Moore explains that although it is easy to place blame on specific individuals, a single political party or the way the media shapes public opinion – a topic which she explores in detail in her book – these actions are driven by the beliefs held by American voters. 

Some of these beliefs include the feeling that blacks are the most violent racial group or that crime should be the main focus for policy makers, not racism.

According to Moore, the first step we must take as a nation is to move away from the idea that these actions are the result of individual decisions and acknowledge that the problem is deeply rooted in national policy.