[eDebate] 2nc 5ish
Thu Nov 22 23:42:43 CST 2007
Thanks sir, told you I was kind of stubborn, and yes I know I'm dealing with an elder, but I just feel that I just couldn't hold it in much longer, and the community cannot miss the voice of an underprivileged person actually in favor for the community. And I have to admit that I'm learning alot also, event though I may be against some of the ways you cache things.
"O/V": you seem to be ignoring my claims that first, exclusion is inevitable and there can be no all inclusive debate community w/o bringing the most pain to the most people, second, my new argument that capitalism is inevitable and probably the only way to relieve any financial or capitalist inequality is to completely withdraw from the ideology of captital anyways (for that ideology is the ideology which puts values on certain things.....actually causing class discrepencies in my mind). This will not happen because 1. what other system will we have left that will have the potential to suffice for everybody (give people autonomy, freedom, etc.)? socialism sure in the hell won't and 2. people are so entrenched (including you) that we will never leave, so we must find things to alleviate the system with checks and balances to make it work for everybody (this is why I agreed with you when you said more lay judges need to be in our community for the sake of
argument diversity and perhaps "reality" in the fact that it will teach us to really be aware in our interactions with people outside of our community, and matter of fact, I think that action would enhance our community a whole bunch because it would bring diversity into debate, and I will make another proposal that may be radical, but may be something else to think about also when it comes to the inequality debate which we may discuss on Monday, since you won't engage me until then, which is respected, because this had been a debate which has taken both of us on many roads. And finally, you say that my arguments are vague but I'll try my best to clarify when I make my actual responses, which will be now.......
First, I will bring back that the dichotomy of the win/loss is actually beneficial for education in debate. Again, if you're a serious debater that cares about winning, you will try your best not to lose to a great argument again. This means that the policy wonk, after a loss, would first educate themselves on the issue in which they lost on, and then they would push to research things on the other side of the spectrum, increasing education. Can I also be correct in saying that there can be no pursuit of truth without knowing both sides of the story? Malcolm X couldn't even win race debates if he didn't know both sides of the story, because he wouldn't have had anything to debunk as a myth, such as white privilege or racism, if he didn't know both sides. Therefore, I can safely say that within our current framework of debate, if you are a dedicated policy wonk, like any dedicated debater, the research/work that you do after a win or loss could actually
lead you to better pursue the truth, which can lead to better policy making, because you cultivated that ability within yourself, critical thinking, researching and all. If you're a person that know's more about the world around you, or if you're a person who has built up critical thinking through our way of debate (if you ask many people, such as Kade Olsen probably, they'll probably tell you that their critical thinking in their lives have went way up), then you're a person more likely to make better policy decisions.
Which brings me to this question....Are you assuming that most people from the debate community will actually become policy makers? And if so, what quantifies what a "policy" is? Is a policy a piece of legislation or a life decision? Since no evidence is provided that X percentage of debaters become policy makers, I will defend my examples through the lens of the person who just makes great decisions in life. Think about it, is a policy just a binding decision? I think it is. And on the basis of just making "policy decisions in my life", I think I'm winning this debate. Thanks for admiring my story, but also my story clearly shows how debate like it is can empower you to change the things around you. You know what, since I learned more though debate that poverty is a fucked up weapon used against people, that has influenced my policy decision to tangibly help those less unfortunate than me. At first, I was for George Bush and the Iraq war (Rosie debated
me on this, and again whooped my ass) but upon finding out in debate that the way the West runs things in the ME anyways is fucked, and that Bush's policies are actually leading us to perpetual conflict, I've found the truth and my views have changed, and now I can fight against the system because I'm more empowered and educated, hence another policy decision. Debate, as is, really opened my eyes, even though I go to debate tournaments to win (because I don't like losing, and your debaters probably don't neither, and you don't neither, or you wouldn't be engaging me at this moment). Debate has opened up my mind and eyes to the world around me, and has motivated me to make decisions and support things that help the people as a whole. And if you ask many more policy wonks just like me, they probably would tell you the same thing with a straight face. That's why I am supporting the squo (even though me and you would probably agree on somethings now, like
lay judges). I admit, you provided great evidence about how the type of debate you're advocating actually leads to real change, Malcolm X and all, and again, I concede that part of the debate. But EVEN IF your interpretation of debate would win that, I'm on face winning that your interpretation/alt would actually lead to more exclusion and pain, which according to your own analysis would not support great policy making and don't forget, your solvency happened through segregation. You hope that people won't just leave, but they probably will because of your monolithic interpretation will exclude the straight up policy monks who see debate as a game, and the people who like to debate what they believe in even though it would be the craziest things on earth. This is a "DA to the perm" and "turn to case" that you're conceding. You're also conceding a risk that judges are even open minded enough to even hear you out, making the current community as is at
least more viable than the sweeping alt. On the high school circuit, some judges and lay judges wouldn't even want to listen to advocacies like yours or like mine, but on the college circuit you at least find freedom. But I hope that now my connections with the current format of debate to policy making are more clear now.
Your next argument will probably be that "this is still being trained wrong Desmond." But that is just human nature. Some people get it and some people don't. If one of your goals are to build policy makers for the real world which make concrete policies for the people, there would still be people in your framework that will turn out to be the direct opposite. Some people within your framework of things still wouldn't get it. That's why we must endorse the system which benefits/includes the most people without the biggest DA, which is apparently the squo over your framework, because the squo allows for the most freedom and some people in the debate community end up making great policy decisions in their lives.
Second, you concede my argument that there are other vehicles for black power, this means debate doesn't decide your black power, and this means if you wish, none of it could be taken away from you. Then you go on to say that this claim turns out non-competitive to the fact that blacks could instiute change within the debate community. First, I hope the alt of more lay judges could be a compromise enough to kind of solve for that, because I agree with you on that part. But second, what makes my claim even remotely competitive is the disadvantage to the METHOD in which you are trying to pursue. Throughout this whole discussion, I've based my arguments on the ends and what it would do to the autonomy, freedom, and education of most debaters. Extend my analysis above. Also, your method takes away from the beauty of resolutional education because you'll make things too local, disentigrating our ability to at least know about the world around us. The squo at
least gives you a framework in which you're forced to research a topic in which you wasn't probably even familiar with, broadening horizons, and the squo gives you at least the option to argue what you damn please, increasing creativity, critical thinking, etc. all in one. What would debates look like in your framework, Doc? This is how I envision it....everybody would just debate about things happening around them hoping for real change every single round and most of these debates would be local. (correct me if I'm wrong). That type of debate would exclude Bard, which runs the "Perfect Aff", that type of debate would exclude the argument of philosophy, such that of OU CJ last year (a small school that won CEDA), because in your framework, that debate wouldn't be accepted, because it's only hypothetical and it isn't real. This is exactly why my arguments about how your fw takes away creativity, autonomy, etc. hold enormous weight, and this is probably
why many people are going to support me on this question, and probably use my narrative against your teams in the Spring. The squo would be the only thing that preserves any diversity or creativity in the debate community. You know what, I agree with you that it is sad when teams do not take true responsiblity for their arguments (like I have taken responsibility for my arguments, again ever since I've argued giving the land back, I've protested, I'm a Native American History Major, and it has influenced me to do things for the benefit of my heritage, and yeah, you'll say why in the hell haven't you left Desmond, and my answer is because I'm Native American and it's apart of my heritage, but I'd rather get into this dialogue later if you wish), but this will happen in any fw, because it's a part of human nature, so the DA that I'm extending throughout this discussion will always be NB to my advocacy against your fw, no matter what you do. My analysis
above also answer's all of your "connection to advocacy arguments" and my resistance won't fail, because again, I have power no matter what.
Now on to cap......what? Again, my learning about the disads to cap through debate and outside experience has led me to make the policy decision to make this argument against you anyways, no matter how I was trained. You don't think I realize the capitalism that's happening within my debate community? I don't take it as a personal attack at all but I just think that is a foolish argument to make Doc. Extend my analysis from the o/v above. Cap is inevitable and we just must take actions to alleviate that system. Your action of a complete overhaul of the system is more disadvantageous than my advocacy of the status quo and I won't repeat myself. Also, capitalism will always exist even in your fw unless you just outright exclude schools such as Dartmouth, Emory, etc. which then links you into the arguments that I'm explaining and beating with a bat. Capitalism is all around us, and most of us, including you and me, benefit from it. We are too entrenched.
My argument is that we will never get away from the ideology of capital, because, unfortunately, this is how we were all trained. But we can come up with compromises to alleviate the unfairness inherent in cap, which I will get to later.
Then you extend your argument that your fw would make people take more responsibility for their arguments but that's already answered above.
Finally, I still think judges are objective and I still think that winning should be the ultimate objective with education connected to the process.But now you've made this argument about debaters' responsibility to their societies. You have to realize that good people, good policy makers still come out of this community, and by human nature, some people are still just going to fuck up in life. The same thing would happen if your framework existed, some people will still be unethical in their policy making, and some people will still not grow to be great policy makers of the people. So really, this discussion comes down to which form of debate allows more freedom, education, broadening of your horizons, critical thinking, creativity, etc. and I think I'm on face winning this debate and my big DA to your fw o/w's your small DA's to mine. Through your fw, everybody, every judge won't be like you, Rosie, Ebony, myself, or anyone else who wants to be a
legit decision maker, a legit policy maker for the people and through the squo, the same things happen, but if more pain doesn't want to be caused, then people would side with me against your sweeping change.
So to end, I do agree with you on certain points Doc,
1. There's needs to be more blacks in the debate community anyways........
2. Yes, some schools have more money/resources than UMKC or LU does or any small school does and something must be done (but don't deligit the debater's work neither, remember, Dartmouth KO and Emory HW are most likely teams that work their asses off to even come up with the good arguments that they come with, resources don't work alone you know)
3. More lay judges need to be preffed and put in at our debate tournaments, to increase argument and judge diversity (I know how to persuade a lay judge too and contrary to some views around the community, I like the challenge of persuading a lay judge because they induce in me another type of critical thinking)
But instead of the sweeping change, at best, we must come up with a compromise in the end. Like you say, you need to hear all voices on the issue and I hope mine, from the background I came from, helps you somehow. We need to come up with a compromise that won't exclude people, destroy creatitivity, etc, because debate wouldn't be one of things that bring debaters back....which is FUN. Here are some radical ideas that you just might put in your paper that you'll submit.....
1. We need to figure out someway to enforce a cap of how much money a debate team could have (for travel, tournament fees, etc). I think this would be the most logical way to alleviate the financial disparity in debate (which has its disads, but I'm just throwing the idea out there). Or have a cap on how many coaches you could have? (but that may be impossible to enforce).....again, I'm just throwing ideas out there........
2. More lay judges need to be included (that means, still have your mix of policy/k judges but just add some lay judges in the mix, goes along way in increasing judge and argument diversity) There can be an enforcable rule pertaining to that.....like requiring that a tournament has X amount of lay judges and changing the pref rules a little bit..
Those are just a couple of ideas I could think of at the minute......I look forward to Monday......
Keep in mind that I think its very admirable what LU is doing, even though I may disagree with the ultimate end....and I'm not against your peoples at all....and when I judge in the debate community one day and if you're still here, don't hesitate to pref me, because I don't have any predispostion against anything and I'm always willing to listen and evaluate impacts the way they should be evaluated.......and if I have a LU judge in front of me one day or another, I will not hesitate to argue my performance or anything like that, it's all about diversity man.........but as a debater, I and many other people disagree with the ultimate goal you all are trying to achieve, which is to overhaul the debate community for my reasons above.
I look forward to Monday, great discussion so far and I'm learning alot, but my mind is tired
----- Original Message ----
From: Ede Warner <ewarner at louisville.edu>
To: Desmond Mason <dsmnd_mason at yahoo.com>
Cc: eDebate <edebate at ndtceda.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2007 9:14:01 PM
Subject: Winning debates versus finding truth
Enjoying the conversation. You are more than a worthy adversary. Much respect!
But you are dealing with an elder! :-) Anyway, back to the discussion...Oh, wait that is the discussion. You have learned all the standard ways to engage a Louisville debate. I have no doubts that you would fare successful in competition against many of our teams. But the end goal here is not competition, it is a search for the truth. And that is perhaps where the training of a Louisville debater separates itself from the rest of the community. The question is of what value is each type of training. I believe that training to win a debate is a very different approach then using debate as a method to effectively solve problems. And as awesome as your competitive strategies are, there is something to be said for solving problems. Now back to the debate proper.
The privilege discussions. The question becomes, what is the purpose of them? In my case, the purpose was to create an understanding that I had the power to change debate, using my rewards and benefits from my position of authority to create opportunities in debate for a different population of folks. My choice to discuss privilege is proactive, because the goal is to justify a framework to frame the question of do we have the power to change debate. Now your story, while passionate and emotionally compelling, is being used for a different purpose. It's a reactive discussion to generate "defense" against my story. Then from there, it attempts to generate offense for using your blessings as proof that acting outside the debate community is more important than acting within the community.
Two problems: The first is knowing where the debate is at: it's not about the magnitude of our respective blessings, it's about the policies that those blessing lead us to. So while I can never, nor would I enagage your blessings or the things you are thankful for, other than to show some empathy for the life you've led and respect for what you've overcome (all more powerful than anything I talked about), the question is what policies we generate and why we generate those policies. My policy has quantifiable solvency mechanisms and clear empirical evidence, including specific numbers of students assisted. Your policy derived from your privilege discussion is vague and not quantified. In fact, it is unclear how you can assess your work outside the community. For me, my discussion of privilege leads me to a concrete policy initiative that has been my goal for 7 years and my policy proposal can be measures, critically assessed, and evaluated.
On the other hand, your policy discussion seems to imply without a warrant, that it is better than mine (working outside debate more important than changing debate), when we both know that these aren't mutually exclusive (why can't you do both), and in fact, we should do both. Moreover, your policy option resulting from your privilege discussion lacks assessment and standards of evaluation. Why? Because the debate community has trained students to use their privilege discussion to divert the policy discussion. Throw in a strong story of my oppression and then you can move towards any types of solutions. No one can challenge your story, so consequently no one can challenge the effectiveness of your solution. But of course, that's not true. Yours is an attempt to invoke emotion for your policy without any detailed policy outcomes or assessment. Once again, we are in the house of the conservative right. This is Bush's strategy for getting his
agenda passed, and ignores how to make productive changes. But that is how teams have been taught to engage Louisville. Why? Because they lack any concrete policy development of their own, so skirting the policy discussion by "any means necessary" becomes the strategy. But that only works against young teams who lack experience in the method, or in front of judge's who run from the policy discussion and justify running by saying, "I can't evaluate the sincerity of these stories". True, but you can evaluate the policy outcomes produced from them. The reality is that Louisville wins many of those debates if the criteria is success of Blacks in intercollegiate debate by most quantifiable measures. Certainly, there are some exceptions, right?
Next, you make the claim that Black power can induce change without using debate to their advantage. Most certainly you are correct again, as hip hop started down that road but lost it's way. And I agree that many, many, many approaches exist to improve the Black condition, and that can be done without debate. Again, two problems: First, you are again making non-competitive arguments-because Blacks can make changes outside the system, doesn't address the question of whether Blacks should utilize the vehicle of debate as an agent of change. In fact, your argument is non-responsive to the question again. You make assertions that outside is better, but what is the evidence for those claims? You see the debate community was very receptive to those types of claims, why? Because the community had no answer either, but they did have a desire to win debates.
But their is a much, much bigger implication to deciding that Blacks shouldn't use debate in the exact same ways that Malcolm did: as a method for testing one's ideas and methods. Again, I use what I learned in policy debate to create a research question (a resolution); to interrogate my topic; to decide what course of action to take, and how to assess the effectiveness of my policy choices. But in your explanation of your outside activities, there is no understanding of how effective your policies will be and what relationship your outside policies to help Blacks will be based on anything you learned in policy debate. For Malcolm, everything was connected: his purpose for debate, was connected with how he debated, what policies he advocated, and how he assessed his choices. The broader debate community is willing to generally forego that self-reflection when discussing outside activism, especially with regards to Black participation: again why?
Because the purpose of their activism was reactive: a response to the Louisville strategy to win a debate. So their policy choices had little structure, little quantifiable outcomes, and little assessment. Proof: four to five years ago, every team in the nation had a strategy challenging our methods to increase Black participation. The question four years later: what have those policies produced, how have they been assessed, and what changes were made by those advocates when those policies failed? You see Desmond, the Louisville method requires assuming responsibility for a problem and following through on that policy until effective solutions are formed, including a march of evolutions necessary to get the type of change needed.
Your attempts at changing the world, already divorced from your policy debate training, are already set up for failure. The fact that you can't see the connection in your advocacy, makes it unlikely that you will see those connections as you move forward. Your example offers all the proof I need. I hope you take this the right way, but I have a lot more faith that a Louisville debater or judge is better prepared to destroy the capitalist system than you are: and I say that not as a personal attack, but an institutional challenge to the way the system trained you.
Why? We'll your call to challenge capitalism is once again outside the activity. Your reading of debate in worlds outside of debate, allow you to see a system of capitalism operating outside of debate, where you should unconditional love to the people and to the system which trained you. Now the question of how race interacts with class aside, your decision to see capitalism outside debate, means that you choose, for whatever reason, not to see capitalism in debate. You ignore the many economic privilege arguments I've made about debate. You ignore how the process of having the most tubs, having the most arguments, and having maximum individual choice in picking arguments, are all capitalist structures, living and breathing in debate. My debaters are trained to look for how the theories they read about, or even those they know nothing about but are brought to them in a debate round, exist in places staring them in the face. They engage in policy
debate starting from themselves and those around the community they participate, in the same way Malcolm did. Consequently, they have a better chance of producing solutions that see the entirety of the problem, which often includes our own behaviors, and not just the behaviors of "others" somewhere else far away.
They have to take their theories of the debate community, and engage other minority interests, which often requires difficult negotiation and critical reflection on how their policy advocacy affects others, because it's not far away, but it's right in their face. So by putting theories they read about into actual practice, and subjecting them to evaluation by judges and assessment, they can learn a process for fixing problems that debate just doesn't currently teach. And that process is important, more important winning debates. And that means that whatever power you leave debate with, is less than it could be, and perhaps helps to explain the void of Black leadership today from yesteryear.
Finally, you keep saying that I'm questioning the judge's you believe are objective. It's not a question of objectivity, in the sense of winning, again what seems to be your focus. It's objectivity as a result of training, and whether they can solve problems in front of them in the ways we try to train our debaters too. The "Take it to the Streets" initiative happened, and people made choices, and my assessment is what happened. That's not a personal attack, it is more constructive criticism attempting to show why policy debate needs to reexamine some of the claims you speak so unconditional of. Self-examination is not a bad thing, so I'm unsure why you believe that criticism of the community's actions is so wrong? If a community that teaches critical thinking, can't be engaged with critical thought about it's practices, were does that leave it? Above question or just above question when conclusions disagree?
All of this is so much more than race, that's just my story to explore my struggle. It's about effective decision making versus winning. It's about giving every one the same type of problem, with the same type of challenge to overcome it. It's about recognition that right now we play a game to win, but instead we could engage in a competition that furthers our collective decision making skills more directly. I'm going to stop now Desmond. More on Monday.
From: Desmond Mason <dsmnd_mason at yahoo.com>
To:Ede Warner <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>
CC:eDebate <edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 11/22/2007 5:54 PM
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Debate: the power to change the world
You are exactly right in the fact that I engaged this forum just to be a voice for the community that I've come to love, that has given me an outlet from the pain in my life, and you're right in the fact that my narrative will probably be used against you this spring. I want to apologize for my foul language, because some of it wasn't required, and I'm really a better person than that. And thanks for caring about me even though you haven't seen me yet, and for engaging me in my conversation. This shows me that you're an adult, like all of the other figures in my life, that I can look up too, even though I fundamentally disagree with your advocacy/alt in some ways (I'm just a stubborn person, that's all).
I'll return the favor with recognizing my blessings too. First, I'm thankful that I have a great roof over my head, that my brother's still alive and going to college with me, that I'm in college for free, and that I have not worried about having something to eat or clothes to wear. I'm very thankful that I'm still able to walk, think, see, touch, move, and have just the vitals necessary for life. I'm thankful that I'm alive, because I should've died when I went into cardiac arrest in my own apartment with no one home to call 911, and locked in, but God saw it fit to bring me back, because apparently I have a mission to be on. I'm thankful for my friends and family that do care for me. And I'm definitely thankful for my gift in music, because music has brought me through some tough times. I'm thankful that God has allowed me to make a positive difference in people's lives, given that I'm a musician at the church in which I'm a member and that I volunteer
regularly in my community to help those less fortunate than even I. I'm thankful that God has given me a open mind to discern and even think and I'm just greatly thankful for all the trials and tribulations that I've had to fight through throughout my life, because that has made me a stronger person.
Okay, I knew I was right that debate wasn't stolen per se because really the only group of people who owned the thing, to my knowledge, were the Greeks, who made it (unless you could give me evidence to the contrary, which you probably could) We all just took away from that. We never owned debate, but you're right in the fact that we have used it in the name of "real change." And that is greatness in debate at its best, for you're right in the fact that Malcolm's debates went public, and then changed the system for the better for us (there's still a lot of work to do in the "public" today, but things are infinitely better today then during segregation). Given that, I think I could say that the position you're taking is this: "Blacks had power through debate to change the system for the benefits of blacks. Whites gave us the privilege to debate them on these things and we beat them bad and the system changed for the better. And once whites were felt to
feel uncomfortable with what blacks were doing to them, they constructed the current system that we have today, without our say, thus taking our power away from us and taking our privilege away from us and making it a game, of sorts. Maybe I agree with you on the history now that you have given me more sufficient evidence on the matter, but I don't think this has taken away "black power" to induce real change, for the college debate community isn't the only venue in which Blacks or other minorities could work to induce real change. Black power occurs when we help one another in our race, and that's not happening Doc. Black power occurs when we actually empower ourselves through knowledge, and unfortunately, from my experience, that's not happening. Just because debate has turned into a game doesn't mean that Black policy wonks do not have any power!!! Malcolm X didn't let the system in which he engaged as he was debating whites take away his power, it
actually empowered him to try harder and make the arguments that win. Blacks still have the potential of revolutionary power in our system, just in different ways which I will highlight in a second.
Then you talk about the judges in the community again, which again, I will think of as inherently openminded until my experiences tell me otherwise. I still think that our judging pool is best to conserve even the openess that we have now. And I will always hold on to my views that your interpretation for debate will be bad for debate because it will take away from the autonomy for everybody!!!!! Your interpretation will cause more pain than needed. I will probably agree that more lay judges need to be entered and preferred at college tournaments, just for the sake of judge diversity, but to overhaul the system which I came to love, which benefits alot more people than you think, will cause more pain, and I thought you said that ultimately, by human nature, humans should find ways to avoid pain. Your interpretation will again be more exclusive than inclusive and you still haven't answered that argument and in this argument, historical analysis doesn't
even matter to me, because yeah, I may be conservative, but I'm right in the fact in stating that your solution isn't the best for everybody.
This form of debate doesn't give minorities power? I agree that debate as it is now doesn't go public and that great debaters like Rashad don't get recognized often for the great arguments that they make, but that shouldn't decide how much power you have. What should decide how much power you have is what you do outside of this community, and the power you gain from doing debate. I'm a great underprivileged example of this. Debate has gave me power because of the reasons that I've highlighted in past posts. Outside of debate, I participate in doing things in the community, as highlighted above. Debate doesn't assimilate me and doesn't decide who I am, even though its a big part of my life, and you shouldn't make it to decide Black's power neither. It's generalizations like this Doc that make me criticize your advocacy so much sir. I'm powerful and I have power, becuase I do things that help my mind, and I make changes in the community. Just because
debate was constructed by the white man during segregation DOESN'T MEAN Blacks don't have power.
And if you really want to talk about solving inequalities, we must get rid of the Capitalist system, and guess what? That's inevitable!!!! So the alt is to go with the best system that's best for everybody, even if it creates exclusions here and there, and that's our system now, call me conservative if you want. Again, you're not answering my argument that exclusion is inevitable because people will always have different views, racist or non-racists. Some people will always like the crazy shit, the game or advocacy for real change.
Yeah, I'm unknown in this community so far, but I will be known by the time I'm done, either through what I'm saying here, or because I'm going to be very persuasive to alot of people. So that doesn't faze me whatsoever. I've always been a warrior and I will continue to be. I'm just asking you not to endorse a system in which it eliminates a whole bunch of people only for the benefit of the minority. Your system would be a hurdle to people who don't like it, supporting that exclusion is inevitable, people will have their likes and dislikes.
And all oppression that you're talking about w/ inequality isn't based on race, I will explain more later.
I'm eating so I'll write you later.....
----- Original Message ----
From: Ede Warner <ewarner at louisville.edu>
To: Ede Warner <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>
Cc: eDebate <edebate at ndtceda.com>; Latonia Green <toniagreen5 at hotmail.com>
Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2007 1:04:57 PM
Subject: [eDebate] Debate: the power to change the world
While I sent you a backchannel with some private thoughts, the more I try to avoid this public conversation, the more I realize that I'm skirting the important questions you ask. Your choice to make this a public conversation is because you feel your beliefs are correct and I'm wrong. My choice to try and avoid this conversation is my attempt to demonstrate that I care about you, believing that this is a private conversation that we should have, much in the same way that Michael Douglass, as the "American President" believed it inappropriate to discuss his dating habits publicly. However, much like Douglass, eventually the public conversation must happen. Why? Because so many out there listening on this Thanksgiving day want to believe so badly, that your position will be support for their position, and will be then justified in hurting my position, usually through repeating your position in debates this spring against my students, as well as in
future e-debate talks, and perhaps in voting for new resolutions calling for a change in CEDA/NDT debate. We all know that in the end, there is only one rule on edebate, it is all about who speaks last. If I don't engage, the assumption is that I lost, and others can use my unwillingness to engage as proof of me being wrong. So I will engage, and I pray that I can do so in a way that is respectful of who you are Desmond, as well as who I am, a Black teacher, trying to inspire a Black student of who else you can become.
Let me start by recognizing my blessings. It's Thanksgiving and I have a lot to be happy and thankful about. A wonderful wife, two great kids, a new car and house, and a job that is unmatched in terms of the opportunities it has bestowed on me. I have a great staff, and debaters who have seen the highest of highs and the lowest of lows working with me. I have given 68 different students scholarship opportunities that they would likely have not received for debating, and 61 have been given to Black students, with a wide diversity of socio-economic backgrounds, including 37 women, 33 Black women, 1 Latina, 8 Black and Latina women who are single mothers, and at least 4 openly gay students. I've truly been blessed and I have had more privileges and opportunities in this world than most.
I asked my wife about your argument that debate isn't stolen, she immediately sided with you (nothing uncommon in my household). When I tried to explain my position, what I really meant is white schools gave HCBUs and Malcolm the privilege of debating them in public forums, with substantial media attention in Malcolm's case, but through the advent of tournament debating, took the privilege back. We both immediately said, "that's Indian giving". Why? Because that is what our cultural heritage shamefully taught us: a heritage of America, but worse yet, a heritage of Black America. We immediately concluded that term was morally wrong and offensive, so we looked for the right term. We came up with reneged or renounced. So I concede that the language of "stolen" isn't technically accurate, and this one example isn't comparable to the plight of Native Americans in America. Blacks were given the opportunity to use debate in a way that met our collective
purpose during segregation and when we became successful at using it in that way, whites had the privilege of changing the terms and conditions of the game again, without our ability to protest. I pray that my children learn the appropriate term for renege, and never, ever learn the inappropriate one.
The example reminds me of Louisville's attempt to "Take it to the Streets", asking opponents to substitute the privilege of a mutually preferred critic for a lay judge with no knowledge of the debate about debate. We would have a different type of topic debate, an objective debate in front of the "people" who were not tied to previously conceived notions about "topicality, counterplans, impact assessments, policy versus performances, or kritiks" It was the ultimate test of whose ideology transferred best to the public: debaters with mountains of information processing and research or debaters looking for a balance between those things and an emphasis on persuasion, called ironically in our community "performance". And much like the HCBU's and Malcolm, eventually we won hands down. Then the community, after the premature boisterous prognostications like my friend Ross, that contemporary debate practices would win in front of any judge, reneged,
instead going back to saying "no" to our invitation, and having debates about "lay judges" being inferior to those trained in debate. Yes, for me the parallel is identical. And at first, my intention was like the HCBU's, simply give up and walk away. But something in me decided to stay and fight. Not something, I remember exactly what moved me. My former student Tonia Green saying to me, "God brought you too far to walk away now." Although not a very religious man, her words made sense to me. Tiffany Dillard's beliefs that we were not near the end of our work also inspired me. So I stayed, even when my wife thought it time to get out. We had sacrificed enough she felt and their was nothing left to gain. But I stayed.
Desmond, you have overcome hurdles thrown at you in debate, the same way that Black slaves overcame the institution of slavery; the same way that Black Montgomery bus riders overcome segregated buses, the same way that Thurgood Marshall overcame perceptions by both whites and Blacks, that Blacks couldn't become judges--and certainly not JUSTICES, and the same way that Rashad Evans overcame any difficulties the game of debate put in front of him to become one of the best debaters ever (notice no Black in front of that). And Desmond, every victory for Black folks is an important one in the fight for Black humanization and I thank you for willfully fighting for your victories. It is appreciated.
However, I can't compare you to Malcolm or Shirley quite yet. For you still fail to see the biggest difference standing between you and them. For Malcolm, he saw the problem quite clearly. While you have accepted that you have the intestinal fortitude to overcome the legacy of institutional and overt racism that still exists in America, you choose to accept it as the norm and your herculean efforts to fight to overcome them as the norm too. But that SHOULD NOT BE the norm, and Malcolm understood that. He understood that America shouldn't create different hurdles for some more than others, and that the legacy of mandatory segregation was just another unfair hurdle, following those of slavery. The hurdles Louisville challenges in debate, even if as small as minority debate impacts being evaluated differently than traditional policy ones, is still a legacy of disparity that you Desmond, shouldn't have to overcome. In fact, debate done right for
Blacks as for all minorities, should allow them to equalize the playing field and engage whites or any majority, on close to equal grounds (as close as we got anywhere), to discuss and confront the evidence on racial disparities and what needed to be done to overcome those disparities. And that's what Rosie and Ebony do in every round they participate in, and they are losing more of those battles than they are winning.
But Desmond, most Blacks are losing most of those battles, even you. When you identified yourself, you said, "a likely unknown debater from UMKC". And the question I ask is, why is that? Is it that you lack the capacity to be a prebid? Is it that you aren't afforded the same opportunties of other debaters? Why is it Desmond, that over a decade since the advent of UDLs, have there been so few Rashad success stories? Where are the UDL students getting prebids, tournament victories, and not just speaker awards? If the opportunity is equal to that of everyone else, why do public schools not win in proportion to private schools? Why have 18 of the last 20 NDT championships been of private pedigree? Why was that not the case before tournament debating and speed?
It's because those students have to overcome insurmountable obstacles. They have to overcome the obstacles of their social location starting points. Then debate, instead of being an equal playing field where everyone starts with the same advantages and disadvantages, instead of an equal place to voice different concerns related to the topic, no debate places a few more hurdles, no matter how small or how large, it's still not equal, nor is it fair.
Had Malcolm been involved with the HCBU's or that Howard program that went to the first NDT instead of learning debate in prison, I doubt that tournament debating would have evolved the way it did. Why, because Malcolm has a quality that I think is missing in almost every current participant in debate today, but a quality I found in Corey Knox, Liz Jones, and Tonia Green, as well as many other "outsiders" to the game. A quality that I was taught by my colleague Rick Jones and by Motriyo "Tria" Warner.
Agency, or the power to change. For all the talk by contemporary debate folks that they believe debate teaches them how to change the world when needed or strategically convienent, few if any really, truly believe in debate's power. You see Malcolm had that believe. His believe grew out of struggle. His belief grew out of him figuring out how to use debate for his purposes, much like the early d.j's figured out how to use old turntables and pass me down records to make new music. You see, one of the greatest legacies that you and I share, Desmond, is that we are descendants of a people who knew and understood the value of struggle. And Malcolm, through his personal struggle, figured out a way to use debate not just to play a game, not just to compete and overcome personal triumphs. He used the game to transform the world. And I too, believe that debate can turn the tide on the rampant problems we have in society, barreling us head first into a
doomsday scenario like the one's debaters have predicted literally thousands, perhaps millions of times. But the ones that deep down, none of them think debate can avert. But I do. In fact, I think that policy debate done right, is the ONLY salvation we have. Malcolm understood the power of debate and he got more out of debate than anyone in the history of the activity. He transformed things, starting with his self.
That transformation included have Black prisoners watch debates to improve their self-esteem. That transformation included having debates against Black civil rights organizations fighting for integration solutions, when Malcolm knew it wouldn't work because know one wanted to address the disparities of the legacy of white race conscious decision making for centuries, which would produce an inferiority complex for Blacks unparalleled in history, and only entrench a white superiority complex that allows folks of all colors to believe "whites can save blacks" through assimilative practices in debate. And Malcolm knew that he had figured out how to confront whites about what they were doing in debates, and that confrontation to lead to personal transformation. Had Malcolm been a part of the HCBUs when they started having interracial debates, I suspect he would have fought the move to tournament debating substantially, and likely would have won. Would he
have stopped tournament debating altogether, I suspect not. Would he have won a fight to keep the important aspects of debate for him as a minority voice, like preserving the value of an audience, or debating in styles accessible to that audience? He would have fought that evolution to the bitter end. And he would have won.
I see the same possibility for debate today that Malcolm saw, and I choose to fight. I recognize that few, very few, stand with me, and likely none of those live outside of Davidson 101, on my campus. But about those who don't stand with me, does that make them a sellout?
About as much as stolen means reneged...No one is a sell out because they choose to accept the lot in life they are dealt with or because they fail to see the same promise of an activity that they participate in with someone else. But the choice to accept the world the way it is and not advocate changing it, when clear inequities exist does make that person, a conservative. Conservatives are comfortable with the way things are today. They choose to not rock the boat or attempt to fight for change because they believe that fight is not productive. For example, protesting too much about the rules and norms of a game that Blacks don't owe, could create fear in some Blacks that those privileges might be revoked. Just as the UDLs cometh, they could leave. And Desmond, much of your willingness to engage me publicly is grounded in that fear: that the good natured folks who dedicate a substantial portion of their lives and time to creating the opportunity
of debate in urban areas, might leave. And if they do, where does that leave me and those like me? A very understandable and justified concern.
Part of my prayer is that they won't leave. Part of my prayer is that they too see my call for change, perhaps even revolutionary change, is not an act against them, but I'm here to help. In the same way that Malcolm's call was to help. Now that said, what about Shirley Chisholm, how does she fit into all of this? Well, Shirley's political struggles occurred more inside the system, because that was where she was. She had to figure out ways to challenge things she believed to be a problem all the while, participating in that system. The more I study Blacks who chose to support integrationist efforts like Martin and Shirley, the more I recognize that their efforts were more similar to Malcolm than I imagined. They recognized the same problems with integration that Malcolm saw: they just never saw the alternatives that Malcolm saw. Shirley didn't use public debate after her college days in the ways Malcolm did, probably because she saw less utility
or purpose in doing so. I don't know.
But what I do know is that Martin, Shirley and Thurgood used their debate training to change the system from within. There where far from conservatives. Any study of their lives saw that they constantly fought for smaller changes of fairness an equality that did challenge the system. So together the two teams: Malcolm working outside the system, challenging it's overalll fairness and legitimacy; and Shirley and Thurgood, working within the system fighting for internal changes as they saw the opportunity, created the foundation for the changes of the sixties. I'd be remiss to say one side was more important than the other.
So I guess I say to you: be Shirley and Thurgood and work inside the system to create changes that make the system more equal, whatever you presume those changes to be. I'll continue along my Malcolm path towards fighting for system overhaul, because that's what God has trained me to do, and I believe I have the power to make that change a reality. All I ask is that you recognize the need for change, and challenge anyone who says stay the course, but find ways to support change that work for you. Because not supporting change means things stay the way they are. And given the problems of the world, the problems of America, and the problems of debate, I'm sure of one thing: conservative is not where anyone should be.
I'm going to send this note. When I sit down to celebrate my blessings, I'm going to pray for change until we have equality, and my agency believes for me that starts with intercollegiate debate. I will pray for everyone in our activity, especially you Desmond, for having the willingness and the courage to engage me publicly. I will pray that I can help inspire others towards a path understanding the need for change, and began a dialogue of what that change should look like. I will pray that my experiences in the struggle can find benefits for all of us, as Black folks, as a debate community, as Americans, and as world citizens. That struggle has learned experiences that can benefit us all, if we are open to the possibilities and use our critical thinking energies to make those possibilities a reality. That's what I will pray for.
Then after dinner, I'm going to watch football, while working on a final document entitled, "LOUISVILLE MPOWER TREATISE for DEBATE". I put Louisville in because what we've done is attached to the institution where we did it, and the institution deserves respect for us doing it there, even in spite of the fact that sometimes we did it, in spite of their support. A year ago, our squad decided we were a social movement, we named it M.P.O.W.E.R. which stands for the Multi-cultural Policy Organizing with Emancipatory Rhetoric Movement. Finally, I call it a treatise for policy debate because my goal is to identify the source of the recurring nature of debate and divide organizations, in an attempt to provide a direction and some stability to what we all do, whatever the organization calls their debate. On Monday, I will release the MPOWER Treatise to all debate communities, to jumpstart the dialogue.
Why do all this? Because I must acknowledge and confront the blessings and privileges, especially in debate, that I've been given. I first, must acknowledge that I have gifts that others don't. Then I must figure out how to use my gifts to the betterment of other. And so I do what I do. Not to hurt anyone else, but rather, because I believe this is what God wants me to do.
Have a wonderful holiday Desmond and take care,
Ede Warner, Jr.
Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
University of Louisville
308E Strickler Hall
e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu
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