[eDebate] Debating Debate

Desmond Mason dsmnd_mason
Wed Nov 21 23:19:47 CST 2007

Doc, I've read all of your posts until this point and I guess this is my response.

First, you make the argument that the debate community was stolen from minorities, as the land was stolen from Native Americans. You tell the stories of many great people such as Malcolm X and Shirley Chisholm and how the arguments they raised during their time actually went on to promote real change, which I agree to be entirely true, and which I know just through studying my heritage. You explain that these people were excluded from the table of policy making because of segregation and racism, which is also entirely true. I think I'll disagree with you on "debate" being stolen from us though. I guess my first question as I'm thinking about this should be "how was 'debate' stolen from us if we never had it in the first place?" Through your analysis, I'm getting the vibe that you're assuming that 'debate' was a possession of ours which was stolen by the predominantely white/segregationist system for their own benefit, and I don't think that through your
 own argument, your analysis is right whatsoever. Matter of fact, I think your analysis actually supports what I'm saying through my post, that it is possible to win your impacts that you advocate in the debate community. There is literature out there stating that racism, dehumanization, exclusion, etc., whatever you want to talk about, are actually bigger impacts than those that look at fake shit such as nuke war as an event. 

What I'm saying is if you make a great argument like Malcolm or Shirley has done many of times, you could engage the system and win. Hypothetically, you could always win that we should do this real movement because Racism exists NOW and that racism is worst than Nuke war or CAUSES nuke war, and there's ample amount of literature out there that you could always use. I can speak this truth from experience. That same senior year that I discussed earlier, I only ran one argument all year, and that was, ironically, to give the land back. I argued this because first, I feel land claims and disputes are also apart of my heritage because I have Cherokee blood in me, second, I feel through my initial studies of history that even the atrocities of Blacks wouldn't have been experienced if Native Americans weren't subjugated, and third, it was an argument that I loved. And even if the judges in that community gave automatic credence to the big impacts such as Nuke
 war, I won those rounds too. I can't even count how many hegemony debates I was apart off when arguing this advocacy. I did this as a performance. I read narratives, I used non-traditional evidence, I even rapped sometimes (and one of the lines if I could remember was "why are we debating the resolution? it's time for a real solution, to solve this colonial institution)!!!!! And I still persuaded judges, even if they were against me, because I made great arguments. That same debate that I discussed earlier in which I beat the best team in OK? They ran 6 off against me, all w/ Nuke war impacts and unfortunately, I caused their team pain after that round because of my very smart argument stating that my advocacy would actually solve militarism. I also gave justifications for looking at the place in which we are. I persuaded people and made my presence felt, and you can ask Conor Cleary or Matt Vega if you want more analysis because they judged me through
 high school. My view won't change that I think that judges on the circuit are very open minded about things and are not pre-disposed to the system. You can persuade most judges on your circuit that your advocacy/performance is great and this has happened before for Louisville without worrying about judges trivializing your impacts for fake things such as Nuke war. You just have to do the same impact work as the "trained debaters" have to do. Nobody would win a Nuke war impact debate without doing the calc/analysis. Same thing goes for performance teams/K teams. You just have to do the necessary calculus/work, just like Malcolm and Shirley did. Nothing will change my views that the debate community, as is, is a community that actually welcome's performance and free speech, you just have to be ready to defend what you say, and that's will alway's be a uphill battle no matter what, because all of us will always have different ways of viewing things. 

With that said, what post of your's answers my questions: "Is exclusion inevitable?" or "What will the new community look like?" Exclusion will always be inevitable Doc, because that is part of human nature. From my view, there will never be an all inclusive debate community, because there will always be people that like "the game", and there will always be people who like the "crazy shit" and there will always be people who really advocate real change. I think the main question of your argument is "how do we get to the point in which minority performance is accepted in the debate community?" And I think I've answered that in my last post and this one, that performance is accepted already and you just have to win your arguments, such as a policy wonk has to win theirs. And your assertions that state that you will not stop until "debate as a game is dead" is proof that exclusion will always be inevitable, because you will automatically exclude those who
 think the game is actually good. I think the game is kind of good, because it has given me the benefits of an education, which has served me right in college and in choosing my course (I'm a Native American history major). This means your views exclude me, and probably a whole bunch of people. Debate already isn't really based off a monolithic interpretation of what things should be like in the squo, because if your interpretation of debate is true, then that takes out a whole bunch of teams from the table of winning and persuasion, Bard College, CSU Fullerton, any team that runs the K, Fort Hays, etc. that win regularly by not really debating policy. Your proposal of change, through reading your post, is that we should change this community to be a community that mostly accepts one type of paradigm, the paradigm of real change. This interpretation is very exclusive and not only takes away from peoples autonomy, but destroy's creativity, personhood, and
 limits the scope of what we learn. Realistically, if we were to take your interpretation and really bring it to being, this would require that topics only be local, and according to your historical analysis, only about race. You also say that in order for us to learn to avert pain happening in the ME, we must learn to solve pain in our community. The community in the squo may cause a little pain in my eyes, but if we were to have your interpretation Doc, I think you would cause infinitely more pain than the squo. That's a logical turn to your case sir, if you want to cache this in debate terms. What about those people who are poor? What about people who go through abuse and violence? All of those things aren't about race and through your paradigm, we wouldn't be able to look at those issues fairly because we will only look at solutions which restore equality to minorities based on the rhetoric of race. We won't look at how capitalism actually causes
 these things and we won't look at how the subjugation of Native Americans actually gave America the incentive to carry out more subjugation of others thoughout history, but through your interpretation, we will only look to things only in black and white, in the local, and we wouldn't get to learn about things outside the local, as picking topics in which we are NOT familiar does for us as people, extend my education analysis here. 

This is why I'll probably reject the project for as long as I'm debating (don't get me wrong, when I'm a judge in this community someday, and if the project is still going on, I won't be inherently against it and I would vote for it if good arguments and analysis is made and if LU DEBATES their advocacy and defends it) because I think that what you're advocating won't be beneficial for the most people and that it will actually take away freedom to be. 

I just want to reiterate Doc that debate was NEVER stolen from us. The only thing that happened was that Whites created their own style of debate that benefited them. Debate as a whole was never ours and unless you give me good evidence to the contrary, I will never compare this claim to the subjugation of Native Americans or anything else you will bring up. You analysis just only PROVES that our great people, Malcolm, etc. just did their own thing and then engaged whited in their system, and then kicked their white asses!!! because they made excellent, provocative, creative arguments. I realize our history was fucked up, and I think you're very credible on most parts, but on the debate part, I think you're very wrong on the history. And debate should be for everyone, not an entity which holds a monolithic interpretation over how people should construct their ideas. And I think the squo does adequate in that regard, and I hope my analysis proves that.
 ANY MINORITY IN THE SQUO HAS THE POTENTIAL TO DO WELL AND PERSUADE A LOT OF PEOPLE, INCLUDING YOUR DEBATERS, and you know this out of all people and I know this through recent history, you just have to defend your stuff and debate. And again this is proven through many of rounds.........UMKC Dancing......OU's "Fox News Exclusive K" last year with Cleary/Johnson..........CSU Fullerton's current K of how things are conceived of in debate........OU BS's "Fuck da System" last year.......again, many examples of minorities (race or the way they argue)  being heard and persuasive.

I just hope you don't view me as a sellout of African Americans or anything, but this is what I believe debate to be in the squo, and I hope my analysis and examples were sufficient for you. If there's any holes in my argument, then don't hesitate to respond and we'll have a dialogue. 

With much love and peace.......

----- Original Message ----
From: Ede Warner <ewarner at louisville.edu>
To: edebate at ndtceda.com; Desmond Mason <dsmnd_mason at yahoo.com>
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2007 8:04:02 PM
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Debating Debate

Hello.  Thanks for expressing your feelings.  I do recognize that there are many beliefs I have that are not shared by other Black students, coaches, judges in the NDT/CEDA community.  I also recognize that there is sometimes a tendency to stereotype and generalize beliefs, including ignoring how thoughts change over time.  I have been in the game now for 30 years and my thoughts have changed many times in many ways.  That said, my call for change is surely not the most popular belief and not shared by many.  And I recognize if I continue the path I am on, feelings will be hurt and people will grieve, it is only a question of who.
That is the nature of change.  Historically, change never occurs without hurt feelings, people disagreeing about the justification for change, or even when folks agree in the need for change, they likely disagree about the type of change called for.  But trust, I care about the pain that I'm causing you and every student, coach, judge, or director who disagrees with my beliefs.  I care, I cry, and I understand because I've been there.  I cared about you before you came to debate, and I care about you now. Most importantly, I will care about you: whether or not our disagreements result in things staying the same or result in massive change.  Even if you believe differently, I'm still here because I care.
Finally, no change can occur without all voices being heard.  Yours, mine, and the voices of each school before change can occur.  It's possible that your voice is the beginning of a substantial resistence to change.  And it's possible that my call for change never makes it further than a few e-debate posts.  At the end of the day, everyone will make decisions that they feel are in their best interests.  That's to be expected.
I won't speak for Rosie, as that would be inappropriate.  But I will say this: when Rosie came to Louisville, she did so for a reason.  She walked away from what would be a successful traditional debate career as you demonstrate by your post.  I find it hard to believe that Louisville was the only school interested in her, but that's a question for her.
I'll say this, I know why I walked away from coaching debate the way you now debate.  I know why I walked away as the first Black Director to reach quarterfinals of the NDT, 2 quarterfinal teams at CEDA nationals the year before I made the stylistic switch, elim's many times, pre-bid caliber teams, and the other accomplishments I had doing the style of debate you love.  And the fact that you love it Desmond, and can't understand my choices, doesn't change my reasons one bit.  I won't engage you publicly about this, but I encourage you to reread some of the last posts I've written.  I have already engaged a lot of your concerns.  And I encourage you to engage Rosie or any of our debaters.  Only they can tell you their motivations for the choices they made.  Take care,
Ede "Doc" Warner

From: Desmond Mason <dsmnd_mason at yahoo.com>
To:<edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 11/21/2007 6:26 PM
Subject: [eDebate] Debating Debate

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.
My $.02 
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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