[eDebate] An open Letter to Dr Warner

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Tue Mar 20 19:21:36 CDT 2007

Dear Dr Warner,

I hope the emergent spring finds you well even if the basketball wounds are
still fresh. I Am writing today to ask you to reflect on your participation
in the topic process and the effectiveness of your call at the onset of this
topic for an inclusion of cases that dealt with racial jurisprudence. I
remember being initially skeptical yet ultimately hopeful when reading the
discussions about the importance of debating about race, and initially
really enjoyed the inclusion of a school segregation case as important as
milliken in the discussion...But now as we enter ceda and the ndt i wonder
if it was net disadvantageous to work for the inclusion of school
desegregation in the supreme court topic.

This is the only time in a generation that we will debate school segregation
and we did it through what by the end of the year became obviously the least
effective way we could have done it. By channeling the school desegregation
discussion through the law those looking for empowerment and liberation
through a discussion of a hyper releveant political debate found themseleves
gobbled up in the  eurocentric white suprmacist culture supporting legal
system .I dont doubt that important struggles have to be fought through the
law to bring about material and attitudinal change in the society at large,
nor do i doubt that certain students "learned alot about school
desgregation". Ultimatly i believe though this community handled this topic
badly, that much of the education was shallow. I dont think real
understanding of the compelling problems and potential solutions to racial
justice in the education, where really even dealt with...largely because the
debate structure and its one year colonization by legal theorists mirrored
the eurocentric and racist, made it so they didnt have to be. I.e the lesson
of milliken perhaps mirrored in the community.

Yet, all of the liberatory space opened up by debaters working to empower
themselves ultimately support the hegemony of inclusion. defenders of legal
topics get to say " That was cool stuff they did reading race into the
history of law on the scotus topic" In this phrase the defenders of a
liberal inclusive, multicultural(in the bad way) topic process get to center
the work around the law and the topic instead of around race. Now its
certainly ok to do work for the law, but should you have to in order to talk
about race, segregation etc?

I know progress is slow and incremental no matter where it finds its origins
or ends, but i write you today to hear and understand your reflections on
this years debates about milliken. And to reflect on the idea that this was
the only chance in a decade probably to debate this very important topic
that lies at the heart of much of the makeup of the current community.

Is debate as currently composed a historically white college and
university(hwcu) activity.Perhaps the last bastion of non integrated sports
on the college level because its not regulated by the NCAA ?

Finally in the fall you mentioned an idea about EMPOWER...basicaly
developing new standards of policy evaluation, this is a great idea, the
best i have heard in years, to me it means not only critiquing but also
creating and implementing the altenraive. But i wonder if thats possible if
the political course the students follow is set by a community that at best
aims to secure and advance liberal progressivism. It seems like though
liberal progressivism provides a good place for the racial justice struggle
to live it perhpas does not provide a very good place for it to work.
Perhaps in order to make empower work studnets need be able to determine
their own political course. I am not naive i dont think that you can wish
away the system, i know there is work required that is not on your terms any
time you are working for freedom,but it seems difficult for projects
currently being  tried as long as the topic is a) the center of the
discussion and b) not the least bit geared toward racial justice , merely a
frequently tacit glance to the race issues in existing policy issue. To me
the topic process is one of the many things that excludes people from this
topic and i want to change it and i wonder what you reflections are after
having worked through it. Does it provide the potential to frame debates
that on their face are empowering or will it continue to support the
maintenance of the political status quo writ large? Is it worth it work
incremently through it? What about an alternative topic process, not against
per se the existing topic process but to provide needs that are not provided
now? But within the current community?
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