Although he’s the first speaker in South Puget Sound Community College’s revamped Artists and Lecture Series, Eddie Moore Jr. has no desire to lecture to anyone.
Instead, Moore, who speaks internationally on diversity and social justice issues, wants to engage the community in a conversation — and a provocative one at that.
His talk, happening Tuesday, is titled “Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen, Riley Cooper and Moore: A Courageous Conversation about the N-Word, White Supremacy and Race in America.”
The world is changing, Moore said, and what we see on the news reflects those changes.
Celebrity cook Deen has suffered financially since she admitted to using the N-word — so offensive that it’s referred to only obliquely in mainstream discourse.
“It’s such a critical and essential example of incompetence around issues of diversity,” said Moore, director of diversity at Brooklyn Friends School in Brooklyn, N.Y. “This incident is costing her tremendously.
“America is becoming a more diverse place, so you need diversity skills competency,” he said. “In 1960, if you were incompetent, it wouldn’t cost you your job; you might even get promoted in those days. In 2020, if you have incompetence in diversity issues, it will cost you your job.”
His goal is to help people develop that competency in big ways and small, with language just one part of the picture.
“With some of the things from our ugly history, we haven’t completely put them away, but we’re moving on,” he said. “Yet it seems like this word manages to stay alive and well in present-day society, and that’s what we’re going to look at.”
At his presentation, he will play music with lyrics that include the N-word and invite listeners to examine the feelings that arise.
He himself doesn’t shy away from the word.
“We’ll be exploring the concept that all music with the N-word in it is bad music,” he said. “I’ll be getting the audience to think about the fact that some of this music could be looking at some important issues like immigration or like poverty or like violence.”
His talk will examine oppression in all of its forms, and will aim to begin equipping listeners with the skills to cope with a changing world, inviting them to have tough conversations with their family and friends and to speak up when they hear something offensive. Moore also will be conducting workshops with faculty during his visit to the college.
“Individually, everybody’s got work to do,” he said. “It’s not something just for white people.”
“We’re very excited about Dr. Moore, because he is so well regarded,” said Kellie Purce Braseth, dean of college relations. “We’re excited to launch this series with him and with this conversation that I think is important to every community.”
The Artists and Lecture Series, which this year will focus on issues of social justice, began in 1987 with an appearance by Harry Belafonte at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. It hasn’t happened since the 2006-07 academic year.
“We have new leadership, and we have this fabulous facility, the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts,” Braseth said. “We want to really make use of it and bring interesting conversations and interesting people to the community.”
SPSCC ARTISTS & LECTURE SERIES
What: Diversity and social justice educator Eddie Moore Jr. will kick off the return of South Puget Sound Community College’s Artists and Lecture Series with his discussion, “Trayvon Martin, Paula Deen, Riley Cooper and Moore: A Courageous Conversation about the N-Word, White Supremacy and Race in America”
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Minnaert Center for the Arts at South Puget Sound Community College, 2011 Mottman Road SW, Olympia
More information: 360-596-5304 or spscc.ctc.edu/alseries
Coming up: The series will include talks by Mexican-American author Luis Urrea (7:30 p.m. Nov. 5) and African-American poet Nikki Giovanni (7:30 p.m. Feb. 20), plus a celebration of the 60th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education in May.