[eDebate] Debating Debate
Wed Nov 21 17:26:15 CST 2007
I'm Desmond Mason, a fairly unknown debater from UMKC. I'm half African American and half Caucasian, but I embrace more of my black heritage than not. I grew up through the urban school system and I graduated from Southeast High School in Kansas City, MO in 2006. I guess you could call me underprivileged, since I wasn't raised in the burb's; matter of fact, I spent my high school years in DFS custody in a group home, and my life hasn't been a person's cup of tea, if you know what I mean. I started debating during middle school and all through high school, winning plenty of awards along the way, within its own dominant structure. I did alright on the national circuit too. Senior year I was in the top 20 speaking at the Caucus, went into a break round at least at the Dowling, and I upset probably the best high school team in the state of OK at the very first OU high school tournament in sems before losing in finals and I did very fine against TOC teams in
Kansas; as you see, success against high school teams debating from the Ivory tower. I've been plagued by a speech impediment for all of my life (in second grade, I couldn't even pronounce my s's and my t's right), even though people wouldn't notice it now because I worked my ass off with one of my teachers in high school to become the best orator that I could be. Even though I didn't have the resources that other schools have, I just worked hard on making good arguments and when I did, I had absolutely no problem beating any team I went up against, even though I wasn't terribly fast. Inequalities in the debate community didn't concern me at all, and I definitely wasn't discouraged. Matter of fact, seeing thest type of things within the debate community motivated me to work harder and to never quit debate, because I know from my heart of hearts, that I can beat these people.
I really have fundamentally disagreed with the Louisville project ever since I first heard about it in high school. I, an underprivileged minority, love this type of community of debate because 1. it is educational to me in the fact that I'm forced to come to terms with and research issues on the topic, therefore giving me more knowledge about what's happening around me, empowering me to support my views. Before this year, I didn't know that Russia was coming up in the world; I didn't really know the details of the nuclear crisis of Iran or how fucked up the situation is in Lebanon. My research, even on these tangents of the topic, empowers my view of not liking how the United States and the West are doing things right now and gives me evidence that I can use to support or empower my views. I can give more examples but I really don't feel like it right now;
2. this is the only community that I know that pretty much gives you the liberty of saying what you want and arguing what you please within the dominant system of things without fear of exclusion. I can argue my K, my performance, queer theory, stripping to solve cap, feminism or whatever I please. I can research any issue that I please. And if that thing is a good argument, then I know I'll have a chance of winning the debate. Do people realize that some of the fastest speakers make the dumbest arguments known to man/woman? Just because people speak fast or are highly technical DOES NOT MEAN WHATSOEVER that they have an predetermined advantage whatsover. My favorite debate video that I've ever seen was of Gabe Murillo's 2nc in the doubles v. Texas at USC last year. He didn't go fast during that round and the main argument that he was going for was this K of the use of data, and that speech was sweet!!!! b/c all of his arguments were GOOD and made sense,
no matter how fast Texas was going. My boy Geoffery Stone, before he was kicked out of school, ran this sweet argument about just fucking the system because it sucked; Geoffrey and his partner didn't go fast at all, they just made good arguments, were creative and they won rounds, even though they were from the underprivileged backround. UMKC fucking danced and won a debate round once!!!!! Yes, I , an underprivileged African American, think this community is sweet.....
3. All the judges are educated and pretty open minded. I think is wrong to put the generalization out there that judges in this community are somehow genetically predisposed to automatically voting for dropped arguments. The ONLY situations, in my debate experience, in which a dropped argument was voted upon was when the team advocating the dropped argument EXTENDED, EXPLAINED, AND IMPACTED THE DROPPED ARGUMENT. The team arguing for the dropped argument would have to do good explaination in front of a judge how the argument functions within that particular round, how that argument basically means the opponent loses in relation to the opponent's arguments.....etc. Just because you dropped an argument doesn't mean that a judge would automatically vote for it. I've been apart of plenty of those rounds and when I did lose (which is alot this year), I understood why the argument I did drop on the flow tarnished my ability to persuade the judge......and the
other team made good analysis on that dropped argument.........They didn't vote me down b/c I dropped the argument, they voted me down b/c they did great analysis, meaning that the other team DEBATED better than I did..............
Also judges aren't just predisposed to liking fast rounds or preferring certain forms of debate; if this is true, then why do teams like San Fransicco State and CSU Fullerton keep winning? (Because these teams make good arguments!!!!!!! and they DEBATE)
Bottom line, in my view, most good judges vote only for the teams that made good arguments....
Teams only win not b/c they're part of some sort of Ivory tower, but because they work their asses off and they are prepared to debate. Keep in mind that some teams from Emory, Dartmouth, and Cal lose their asses off too. The predominant reason why teams like Dartmouth KO whoop ass is only because they take the time out of their college lives to educate themselves on the issues, research the issue, construct arguments that make sense from those issues and they come prepared against the teams at that tournament. This is precisely the reason why Amy and Malgor came in second at the NDT last year, even though they were from lowly UMKC, because there were countless times in which I saw them in the squad room working their asses off, researching, and coming up with great arguments in response to different teams.
I want to make some random points before I leave.......
Isn't exclusion inevitable? Can there actually be an all inclusive community, given all of the different world views that our species has? How do we increase minority participation in this debate community? Does anybody have any evidence whatsover about the SPECIFIC THINGS that turn off minorities from this community? Does anybody have any evidence pointing to the fact that many minorities want to join the debate community (CEDA) now but are turned off from the speedreading, the judges, how we research, etc? And how about the minorities that do like this style? (I've seen a black person at the NDT before from James Madison through pics, and I seen an African American female from Rochester debate in elims before). What about them? And can somebody please tell me what this new community would look like, specifically? (I've asked that question a million times). What would competition be like? Would that competition exclude people like me who like the
technical style? What's the ultimate point of debate ,as we have it now, if winning isn't the ULTIMATE objective? (In my view, the dichotomy of a win/loss actually leads to more education because if you lose a round and are serious about being successful and persuasive, you would research and educate yourself on the issue that you lost on and be ready to more aptly debate that issue next time, is this not the educational point of debate? Why would people participate in debate if the win/loss didn't matter) What is the benchmark that marks when minority people have finally "overcame" the oppressive parts of this system in which we debate in? Participation? A different community? A minority winning the NDT? (two women have already done that). Please somebody, Ede, Ebony, Rosie or anybody, just answer these questions for me, so I, the underprivileged, African American, could understand.
To conclude, I just disagree with the project and just making a point to criticize the system in which you participate in. I think it's a sweet community for my reasons above. It would cause me pain if I were to debate LU in a round just to be told that the thing that I work my ass off towards just isn't good enough, b/c the system I work my ass off in isn't good enough to include minorities. I find the community as a release for me and my painful life.
There you go, an underprivileged person who likes this community.
PS....I also disagree with your assimilation arguments. I'm just as African American as I was when I began college debate. I'm still as autonomous as a person. I'm still me. I'm no machine. I'm myself. The forum that I engage in doesn't change me. And as an aside, Rosie W. used to whoop my ass in every policy debate that we've ever engaged in against one another.......lol....she won when I dropped arguments but the key thing is that she won because HER ARGUMENTS were better than mine and her analysis were better than mine.....just to add to what i said above.
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