[eDebate] Answering Adam's Question

Josh jbhdb8
Tue Apr 8 02:15:59 CDT 2008

Hey Ede,

That is a pretty good question:

 Josh, *What have you personally done to create and support how Adam feels
about the treatment blacks get in this activity?  *

Not enough, thats for sure, I think the things I have been trying to do
often arent as obvious or as well-articulated as my less frequent (but still
too frequent) edebate wars.

One thing I want to clarify is that I was not trying in any way to paper
over the feelings of the people who spoke out in any way.  You are right
that I need to pay attention to the feelings of people actually feeling the
pain.  You are certainly right to point out how quickly a conversation about
how to address racism became a defense of competitive motives.  In fairness,
I think my larger point was whoever wins a national tournament (Towson or
Wake) had to work their asses off to do it.  But your point is well taken,

I am struggling quite a bit with some of the issues you raise in other areas
of my life.


>  *To Scott:*
>  My Dear Scott.  Thoroughly convinced that the answer to Adam's race
> question is to ignore it and fight what you believe the real problem to be,
> elitism.  Here is the evidence that I must ignore to make you the leader
> that I would have to follow:  1) there are 119 CEDA members and 114 in NDT.
> The members are the same.  The organizations do the same thing, and the
> modicum of difference is so statistically insignificant that any respected
> scientist would laugh (one has an open national tournament and one doesn't);
> 2) The race issue hasn't been solved in any organization in America, perhaps
> the world, but Adam should trust that participation in one debate
> organization versus another will solve racial ills; and finally 3) The
> non-elite ran from NDT to CEDA; then the non-elite ran from CEDA to parli;
> now they run from Parli to NEDA, and the Great Western Forum.  All this
> moving and yet each organization cries elitism still.  Why CEDA that has
> decreased over 2/3's in membership from it's glory days is the nirvana is
> something I still don't understand, any more than I understand why Towson's
> criticisms apply any less to CEDA schools than others.  But again, even to
> engage these fallacies only pulls us further from Adam's question now
> doesn't it?  So my choice to build bridges with Scott, requires that Adam
> drop his focus on race and pick up your focus on elitism, or he's got
> nothing?  Just wondering Scott, how do you calculate the value of different
> racial experiences into your critical thought process?  What is your method
> for considering our differences on racial perspectives?  And after you
> answer that question, I ask the same question of you:  *What have you
> personally done to create and support how Adam feels about the treatment
> blacks get in this activity?  *
> **
> *To J T*
> Two things at the outset: 1) I really, really, really appreciate your
> willingness to disclose, discuss, and assume responsibility for the hallway
> or squad room comments that you made.  The biggest reason we can't have
> productive conversations is that people aren't willing to honestly and
> ethically engage the issues.  Yours is an important first step; 2) If your
> story of being called "racist" refers to a Louisville debater or coach, then
> I would like to personally apologize.  We spend a lot of our preparation
> time discussing how to deal with loss and perspectives we disagree with.
> Finding productive ways to engage difference has become more and more a
> centerpiece of our program.  We have kicked people off our squad for
> disagreeing with judges in unproductive ways (something I sure many of you
> disagree with and I'm okay with that), because at the end of the day, while
> I told Adam that our decision to stay and participate makes us responsible
> for the way we are treated, there are certain human rights and
> responsibilities that come with being part of the community.  And I assume
> the responsibility of making sure the Louisville program engages race issues
> in educational and societally productive ways, I can't not defer that
> responsibility to the students.  Although I do recognize that my human
> nature as defined by my personal frustration, alienation, and anger at times
> has violated my own rules.  Often my conversations of quitting over the
> years were my recognition that I couldn't deal with these issues
> productively at that given moment in time.  But I appreciate that you can
> forgive those students and/or coaches and not allow your frustrations to
> stall your search for that productive discussion your post says you are
> searching for.
> Your initial reactions, defensive in nature to the charges, serve to
> attempt to marginalize or reduce the impact of Adam's/Andy's/Jackie's
> claims, similar to the early discussion about Josh, so I suspect they are
> usually met with trepidation.  Ironically, I agree with the first two
> wholeheartedly and in large part, the Louisville direction shifted to
> address these concerns.  But here is the difference:  I'm a director
> actively searching for policy solutions to race on a day to day basis for
> students interested in participating in that advocacy.  You are a
> coach/director chiming in when someone asks the question, "what have black
> people done to deserve the treatment we get in this activity?"  I guess what
> is missing in your response is your demonstrated "compassion" and commitment
> to the issue.  If you believe that parts of their criticisms have merit, why
> so much concern with the accuracy of how those concerns are communicated and
> expressed?  Can you not see how one might receive your tone as "playing the
> debate community as the victim" and trying to make Adam the oppressor, and
> how that might invalidate the rest of your discussion about the importance
> of calling out racism?
> I wonder JT, would you see compassion if I was a young woman, walking out
> of a classroom at a debate tournament, clothes disheveled, clearly beaten,
> saying that two men just tried to rape me.  Hysterical, upon seeing the men,
> I started cussing them out and trying to swing at them.  Would your primary
> concern be the lack of productive communication I used?  What if a young man
> ran into the Classroom building in Lexington, running from a mob trying to
> bash him because he is gay?  Would you be concerned about accuracy of
> response if several members of the debate community caught them at the door
> and threatened them if they didn't leave, even if it perhaps went against
> your non-violent beliefs?  These students won a national championship
> regarding a very controversial, intense and difficult issue, and have been
> met with unique hostility and resistance every moment since.  Can you not
> see the emotional similarities?
> I mean your note is: 1) all the high fives weren't racist; 2) Towson's
> argument over-generalizes; 3) Towson's rhetoric is antagonistic and hence
> not productive; 4) Towson's rhetoric ignores over forms of privilege; 5)
> here's what I said--I was inaccurate and speculated about the end goal of
> Towson's argument; and 6) don't piss off judges.
> Nowhere does your post acknowledge Towson's criticisms, outside of some
> generic and theoretical, racism exists and should be called out at every
> turn.  But you don't describe how and when it is productive in the debate
> community, only saying the way they did it wasn't.  Do you think Adam should
> feel that your with him, that you care about his issues, or that if he just
> gives in to your concerns, you'll be more of a supporter.  Just wondering
> JT, *What have you personally done to create and support how Adam feels
> about the treatment blacks get in this activity?  *
> **
> *To the Community:*
> Adam asks a simple question, *What have black people done to deserve the
> treatment we get in this activity? *The responses as I heard them: 1)
> Andy- Racial insensitivity of some in the predominately white debate
> community; 2) Josh-It's not all bad; 3) JT-Your approach if flawed and not
> productive; 4) Scott- It's NDT elitism, come home to CEDA.  None of these
> answers truly engage the question asked, but I'd like to take the liberty of
> a friendly rephrasing into, *What has each member of the NDT/CEDA debate
> community done to create the treatment black people get in this activity?*
> **
> I think how each person answers will differ based on experiences and
> perspectives.  I likely that many will say "nothing" or attempt to somehow
> debate the question.  But is that enough to stop thinking about the problem
> or the solution.  That's the issue.
> I think that most won't answer this question by saying how do we
> personally support institutions that create disproportionately negative
> consequences on black people.  I think that most won't pay attention to the
> reality that there are common perceptions and frustrations by most blacks in
> NDT/CEDA debate that transcend debate ideology, or style, and many will be
> quick to unproductively focus on efforts to disprove that reality.  That is
> the challenge for those who believe contemporary policy debate is good, just
> and sufficient and criticisms should be eliminated or reduced or changed to
> a "different forum", although no other effective forum structurally exists
> to produce change outside the ballot, and even the ballot has been proven to
> not always produce change, although sometimes it does.
> I also think that most won't see this question as friendly and related to
> the more important broader question, of how do we personally support
> institutions that create disproportionately negative consequences on
> minority perspectives? That is my challenge to *blacks to see that
> relationship*, lest they become complicit in their treatment of others
> when they don't consider the broader question, as it relates to concrete
> persuasive solutions and coalition building.
> Until a structure exists that doesn't create those disproportionately
> negative consequences, the likelihood that acts of racial insensitivity,
> acts of disrespect, and general non-educational acts will continue to
> fester, grow, and turn into repeated bad events.  My thinking about what
> this community should look like doesn't start with the assumption that
> policy debate as exists, is superior to other forms of education, but
> rather, what goals and/or purpose could policy debate have to make it truly
> superior to other forms of education, and I choose to keep tinkering with my
> approaches to debate until I find it.  My thinking doesn't assume that I can
> pick and choose who I want to engage in the community to find that
> solution.  My thinking doesn't believe that adoption of any single political
> perspective should trump what my experiences and those of others in similar
> situations teach me are the most effective policy route.  And my thinking
> believes that as long as people respond to Adam's question beginning by
> talking about someone other then themselves, we have no chance of getting
> closer to a solution to the problem of difference in debate.
> But that's just me.  What does your thinking teach you, about you?
> With love,
> Doc
> **
> *Ede Warner, Jr.
> Director of Debate Society/Associate Professor of Communication
> University of Louisville
> 308E Strickler Hall
> 502-852-3522
> ewarner at louisville.edu
> http://uofldebate.com/*
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> eDebate at www.ndtceda.com
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