[eDebate] Thanks Jimbo

Ede Warner ewarner
Tue Jul 24 21:33:49 CDT 2007

Thanks for the time you spent answering my questions.  Afraid to interpret parts of your prose, so I won't.  But I will try to engage the parts that speak to me as best I can.
The last seven years for me have been as the adage goes, "the best of times and the worst of times."  Sometimes I have acted without a full understanding of the potential consequences of my actions and at other times I knew exactly what my choices would produce.
The last seven years allowed me to realize a dream that I've had since working in my parent's funeral home, determined to give my life the purpose of finding the opportunities and benefits that I found through debate to other Black kids.  My hope was that perhaps, I could help in some way stop the cycle I saw of Black youth ending up on that embalming slab before 30.
We didn't get there the way I had planned.  I originally hoped to get there by debating policy debate, just slower.  There was some backlash to this choice.  But that evolved as a result of feedback from the community and trying to understand what was in the best interest of our team based on their strengths and weaknesses.  So we evolved to not using plans, playing hip hop, debating the 3 tier process, and talking about purpose, privilege, and metaphorical interpretations of the topic.  There was 100X more backlash to these innovations, although we became more and more successful with every innovation.
The best of times was seeing my part of my goal realized: that I had in 4 years given more debaters that looked like me, the opportunity to succeed in intercollegiate policy debate, than I had seen by Black students in the entire debate community for my previous 20 years involvement.  It was the best of times.
However, those students didn't do it the way I did when I debated and I'm sure that I never achieved the original goal of giving them the same opportunities and benefits that I had.  It was a different opportunity.  Better or worse than what I originally wanted:  don't know, I haven't resolved that one in my mind, although most in this community have made up their minds.  As far as the benefits, again tough to say.  They walk away revered by part of the community, while dismissed as novices or less than average debaters by so many others.  They walked away from many debaters angry and hateful towards a community that I once loved unconditionally.  I too, felt that frustration, as did those who once cared about me.
Tournament administration for me as a director became crisis management.  I would not enter the judging pool, not because I didn't want to, but because literally every Louisville team in every debate they were in, likely ended sometimes in tears of joy or more likely fits of anger, shouting and rage.  I ran from round to round trying to gage the emotional content of the room, not knowing was the culprit in any given debate a racial offense, or simply one of vehement disagrees about what the "correct" style should exist in policy debate.
During this time, I was engaged almost non-stop, sometimes by those with loving praise wanted to support the cause, others with honest curiosity trying to understand, and finally, many, many who walked away with a bad taste from a Louisville interaction, or simply deep hate by some who never had an actual interaction, for what they thought we did.  And this doesn't engages the depth of the war of the worlds between Louisville judges and the rest of the community, another conflict and I sat in the middle yet again.
During this time, I quit and came back no less than 100 times, especially if you count the tension and uncertainty that existed within our own squad, always moving methods, a lack of any real stability, and the constant pressure to conform to sometimes more radical approaches and at other, more traditional ones.  Rarely could I make a decision that wouldn't make someone extremely unhappy.
And when I couldn't continue with the day to day conflict that my previous choices had created, and attempted to broker a peace deal, many of my own debaters revolted, refusing to write "my baggage" speeches for CEDA Nationals 2006 as an olive branch to begin the process of re-integrating ourselves into the community.  But we persevered and we went back to find a different way of approaching our perspective and the community.
That said, I'm still here and no worse for the wear so I'm not looking for pity.  I'm still committed to finding a way to exist that works for us, and I hold a vision of yet a better policy debate community for all of us.  We have a small, yet committed group of debaters and staff ready to engage in our unique way.
Now what does all this have to do with your prose?  It's simple:  you and I, Jimbo and Ede (no quotes), missed several opportunities to connect, and for that, I am too blame.  But the reality is that I missed many, many opportunities to connect with many, many folks.  I won't apologize for the past because it would require me to conclude that I should have made different choices, and I can't do that, because I am proud of my choices, in spite of some of the negatives that resulted. 
But what I can say is that I am committed to making every effort to search and fight for compromise in these communities so that we can come together and move forward in the most productive and educational way possible.  I have made a commitment to engage anyone willing to engage as long as it remains respectful and productive.  So I am replying to your post.  I am engaging in any dialogue on edebate as well as dialogue on the CEDA-L, set up for directors.
Take care Jimbo and I will try to take full advantage of any future connections that arise between us and I hope those intersections do continue to occur.  
Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu 


From: "James Maritato" <james.maritato at gmail.com>
To:<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 7/22/2007 11:18 PM
Oh Dr. Warner can't you see
wanna have you in my corner so won't you be
you say you don't know me personally
so i'll let you inside so you can see

you wrote my name inside of quotes
and the internet simply can't emote 
the distance built by punctuation marks
it seems they have more bite than bark

dr. warner i hope you know 
i looked up to you as i began to grow
i sat on a panel at NCA 
with your debaters that made my day 

I tried to help and give you gear 
so your kids could make music for all to hear
you said you'd e-mail but something musta went wrong
and now I'm writing you this song

this is my love song to ede 
so i hope you all are ready 
to hear about our intersections
and how we have failed to make connections

i picked up your team for three years straight
tried to teach traditional kids not to hate
the new perspectives, the questioned assumptions 
and why i won't vote neg on presumption

your debaters moved me to tears
i've been hearing from glueboy about it for years
there was a big mistake made by idaho state
they said my unique ballot could change debate 

i knew after all i'd seen you do 
and all the times i voted for you
the simple fact is that ain't true 
cuz i keep votin' and debate's still screwed

this is my love song to ede
so i hope you all are ready 
to hear about our intersections
how we have failed to make connections

i got my degree and moved back home
started to build my old team on my own
went to judge a round of the 'ville
and to au bon pain to find someone with less skill 

i watched your team lose to some jmu hacks
who supported killing because of some "facts"
when i tried to give your squad some advice
they said i'd ruin the project, but thanks that's nice 

I will admit that I have not seen you in a long time
And I wish you had gotten to know I think your sublime
And that this story wasn't so long
Because this gettin' to be a long damn song
And I'm running out of things to rhyyyyyyyyyyme! 

this is my love song to ede
so i hope you all are ready 
to hear about our intersections
how we have failed to make connections

Now it's oh-seven yet another year 
and i'm looking to debate to make things clear 
As a senior I was a novice debater 
So it should be clear I'm not a novice hater

You're looking for purpose and so am I
But the purpose I had has seemed to die
I came here cuz"it's open to everyone" 
And because it challenged me yet its fun

But discussions of pedagogy and topics
Get linked to derision and politrix
i watched tuna claim for some secessions
as i sunk deeper into depression

I can't claim to have done what you have 
But you said you were leaving and it made me sad
I realized then what I realize now
I never made a difference and I don't know how.

so now I look at debate and I see a job
a paycheck, stress, and how to live like a slob 
My team and my program are all that I got
The community rhetoric is all but shot

this is my love song to ede
so i hope you all are ready 
to hear about our intersections
how we have failed to make connections 
though we were thinking in the same directions

I like Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock too
I watch Stewart and Colbert like the nightly news
I wrote grad school papers about all of those dudes
because they educate through culture and entertain too 

I know that verse had some really weak rhymes 
but admittedly this song is taking me time
And I have a lecture to write on culture jamming
so this rhyme isn't really all that slamming

i think ceda and the ndt 
should open up their hearts and let us be free
but I think people have forgot when it's plain to see
that most of us in ceda are in the ndt

i think topics are really great 
and some better ones would really help out debate 
but starting political movements to question the process
seems reactionary, factionary - full of losses

this is my love song to ede
so i hope you all are ready 
to hear about our intersections
how we have failed to make connections 
though we were thinking in the same directions

I still dream of a community
maybe that's my flaw and will continue to be
But the only way I can function in this activity
Is to make fun everything that I see... 
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