[eDebate] Being White in debate

Andy Ellis andy.edebate
Wed Apr 9 01:44:24 CDT 2008

Ill answer daves question
surely i will engage in crude reductions
my descriptions will not describe every situation
i will anger liberals who think i am focused to much on whiteness and
i will anger radicals who think i am focused to much on whitness and
i surely will fail to capture effectivly the process of becoming white and
dwell in the rigidity of modernity
but what i am attempting to describe is the way that whiteness works on a
personal and instituional level within our community.

being white in debate means
1) you are more than likely to have most of your debates against opponents
and in front of judges of your own race, think of how many times a black
team deabtes another black team in front of a black judge?
2)you don't have to recognize whiteness if its not your nitch or you are not
debating a team that will bring it up, whereas most people of color or of
difference are cosntatly described as black latino queer asian indigenous or
some other form of naming
3)you can count on jobs and graduate assistantships being available to you,
whereas people of color can look around and seriously doubt that they could
get a job
4)you can count on most of your friends to cut you slack even when you say
racially offensive things
5) you can count on with a great deal of statistical accuracy that your
coaches will be of the same race as you
6) a safety net exists for you within the community to make mistake after
mistake, outlandish display after outlandish display
7) you can look at the list of successful post debate graduates and see
possibility of being one of them
8) you can be racially divisive in your argument choice with out ever having
to explain it
9) you can explain away racism in debate practice to people likely to share
your viewpoint and convince yourself that the self referential feedback loop
you have engaged in produces truth
10)you can be expected to be the voice of reason and experience in
conversations regarding race, often because you have read a lot about it,
and some times because you are good at argumentation
11)your mistakes and transgressions will be excused by  most people of color
whereas theirs will become subjects of discussion and demands for
12)you can have an academic experience less racially diverse than most of
the classrooms at most campuses
13) you can expect that social awkwardness is the only barrier to meeting
most of the community
14) you can stop detailing the ways you are privileged whenever you like
15) you can opt out of the POLITICAL system of whiteness, even if you cant
shed your white skin

this list is of course not all inclusive, but i think the point is that
these things are invisible to most white folks, but they along with a series
of other practices already detailed keep people complicit with a struture of
racial exclusion, no one has designed debate this way(except the folks that
responded to the growing power of hbcus debate programs by insulating the
community into a structure that required tournament competition and
inetsnive resources to displace the successful balck challenge described in
the great debaters) but their are privileges that come from whiteness in the
debate community that make the community what it is, most of these things
are not racist per se but are inherited from a larger american tradition of
white privilege that if we do not challenge makes us complicit in its
functioning. This is not even to get into the questions of white way of
knowing or being in the world, but to suggest that the little day to day
practices have material and psychological effects effects on what we call
community. 15 is an important one and one that duane seems to have never
learned, white people are not inherently and biologically superior, nor is
race is irrelevant in america today, they choose to take advantage of a
system that structures the world in a way that is comfortable for them often
unknowingly often without question. When those privileges are challenged it
is unlikely that people will give the credibility to those speaking these
experiences, instead as duane demonstrated they will try to explain away or
dissemble...i am actually writting much more about this, expect sometime in
the later summer....before i do i need to read more on the things people
have suggested to me in response to the posts i have made on this topic, so
keep that some times angry criticism coming
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