[eDebate] Fwd: DCA and Discrimination

Charles Olney olneyce
Fri Apr 27 15:15:29 CDT 2007

Forwarded message from Jonah

I'll jump in, too, and just add that while the concerns raised are
absolutely fair, I think we should also notice all of the great people
who *were* recognized as important members of our community.  People
like Kathryn, Jessica, Aimi and Julie, Gabe and Andy, Brenda and Luis,
Ross and Matt, etc (I could go on for a long time).  Some of them are
women, some of them don't fit into easy ethnic categories, some of
them are white guys that are awesome.  But all of them have done great
things and they're all great people.  I like the DCA because it's a
chance to recognize that - that they are noticed for being good at
debate, but are also wonderful people who deserve a little extra
praise for the kind of people that they are.  They are not just good
debaters, they are also our friends.

So absolutely, let us be worried about why more minorities aren't
included, but let some of that worry be tempered with a recognition of
how many fantastic people we do have in this community.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jonah Feldman <jonahfeldman at gmail.com>
Date: Apr 27, 2007 4:00 PM
Subject: DCA and Discrimination
To: Charles <olneyce at gmail.com>

Hi Charles.  Can you please forward to e-debate

Hey, just had a couple thoughts about the DCA results and how that
reflects gender and race issues in our community.  I think it's a
mistake to interpet what happened as a result of an anti-female or
anti-black bias on the part of voters as opposed to a larger systemic
problem in which women and African-Americans are not consistently
reaching the upper echelons of competitive debate.  What I mean by
that is I don't think anybody got "screwed".  There are certainly
female judges, such as Sarah Topp or Greta Stahl, who have a
reasonable claim to being among the top judges in the country, but the
people who recieved votes probably are the best adjudicators of
debates.  There weren't a lot of African-Americans who won the various
categories because there aren't that many African-American candidates
to be considered for those areas.

I'm not naively stating that racist/sexist beliefs don't exist in the
debate community.  I strongly believe that everyone involved in debate
and our society at large has a lot of conscious and unconcious bigotry
that shapes what we do all the time.  But I don't believe placing a
judge in a late elim because she is female or voting for a team
because they are African-American gets at the root issue.  Individuals
like Ed Lee who are obviously awesome are recognized as such without
any extra credit given to them because of their identity.  The
question should be why aren't more women and racial minorities getting
to a place where they can be recognized for being awesome?  I'd ask
that the DCA race/gender discussion be less about shaming voters for
their preferences and more about how we can respond to larger issues
that disadvantage large sections of the population.

>From my heavily priveleged position here's how I see it.  Women have
not had the same level of success as men because of screwy gender
beliefs that tell women that they should not be as aggressive and
intensly competitive as men.  Given that our activity heavily favors
these attitudes it causes women to feel uncomfortable engaging in
these behaviors, and when they do they are in subtle and not so subtle
ways punished for it.  For African American individuals it seems like
class issues play an important role.  Individuals with more money, who
are more likely to be white, are exposed to the ideas and educational
opportunities that favor debate success earlier and more frequently.

What are the solutions to these problems?  Well, yeah that's the
tricky part.  But I don't think making people feel bad because of who
they think is a better debater, better judge, funnier or more gullible
person is productive unless it's linked to a dicussion of larger
transformative forces that effect who becomes better, funnier, etc..

Many thanks to those who are trying to reduce inequality inside and
outside of debate.  I know I could do a lot more to make things better
and hope to do so in the future,

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