[eDebate] Answering Adam's Question
Tue Apr 8 12:02:19 CDT 2008
I am usually extremely inclined not to write on this list serv, or any list serv or blog because it rarely every leads to productive dialogue, only a string of loosely connected monologues, but I feel compelled to say something since a large part of this conversation is about me.
I am not very social, or sociable at tournaments with people outside the towson team (with a few exceptions). Even when people try to be social with me I am often not very interested in hanging out with people. This stems from years of debate experiences with white people that have made me have very low expectations of them in regards to them dealing effectively with their whiteness. I start with highschool....
I am a baltimore urban debate league alum, we often competed with the local CFL schools (county and private schools) at tournaments. My very first tournament at a CFL I was debating a private school team who was thought to be really good, round 3 and it was a flip for sides, the kid (a white kid) says to me "it doesn't matter what side your on, we'll probably win anyway". This was amazing not only because he made it clear that he didn't think very much of us, but that he felt we didn't think very much of ourselves which is even more strange because we had just told him that we won 1st place varsity team the week before at a BUDL. We won that debate and ever since the two boys would talk to us very differently. They treated us with the kind of respect that they treated their fellow CFL competition. This speaks to what many white students think when they know they are debating a UDL team.
Same year, next tourney, my partner and I debated two white girls from a county high school in the area. They must have thought that they were going to have an easy time with us, but my partner and I (Chris Randall for those who may know him) were having a ball in this debate, we were beating the hell out of these girls in this debate. It was so bad that after the round one of the girls wouldn't shake our hands after the debate. Chris and I thought that we did really well that day, but we didn't win any awards. Come to find out one of the white girls told their coach that Chris had mouthed the word "bitch" during her speech and the coach told the tab room, and so they decided to void all of our rounds for that day. Chris did not mouth any words to this girl during her speech, there was no reason to, we were having fun in that debate, I suspect she felt embarrased to have lost to us. Another example of white people reacting to me in ways that cause me to have very little
faith in white people that they are effectivly dealing with whitness and white privilege.
Last example that i'll give and then i'll make my point because i could really go on with many more examples. Emory debate camp my senior year in high school. I was in scholars lab (the advanced lab of the camp). One of two black boys in the lab and probably seen as the least skilled debater in the lab (i am pretty sure because people told me so directly and indirectly). For starters, no one really talked to me (except the black people) until the beginning of the second week of camp. I had people say to me "I thought u were just a thug from baltimore until you opened ur mouth". Other students would ignore me when i would ask debate questions. I would try to be friendly and people just seemed intimidated by me (not making this up either because people told me this eventually as well). I didn't start feeling comfortable until the second week when i found out that half the girls in the camp had crushes on me (which is interesting that people starting being my friend,
and wanted to talk to me not because they learned that I read and understood dense theoretical literature, or that I had a really good knack for K's, and im also pretty sure of this because people told me directly and indirectly, but thats a whole different convo) and I was very conflicted because my goal at camp was to become a better debater, and I tried very hard to ignore the social aspect of the camp. But what was important about my experience was that many of the white people who interacted with me didn't talk to me because I was a good debater to their standards, but because i was "cool". I still resent that to this day and have gotten that feeling sometimes in the college debate community.
Here's my point, I love debate because it has given me the tools intellectually, to advocate for the people of this world who have been the most severe victums of whitesupremacy, imperialism, patriarchy, etc... I have read stuff and talked about stuff that has helped me to do what I have been put on this earth to do. As a man from baltimore city I see suffering, and it hurts, I have spent my life trying to figure out how to change the conditions that have caused the people who i've grown up with to live the bleek and hopeless lives that this society has forced on to us. The arguments I make in debates are an invitation for the community to begin to reflect on how all of us can participate in eliminating the conditions that create massive suffering. Im talking about systemic suffering, im talking about the girl who is sexual abused by her step father and doesn't say anything to her mom because she knows that the mom can't support the family without their step dad
(capitalism), or the woman who has a child when she's 16 and ends up marrying an abusive and womanizing husband and who stays married to him because she has no way of supporting herself, and thinks too little of herself to do anything about it (patriarchy), or the black kid who never learns to love themselves because most of the people who could teach black people to love themselves were killed by the counterintellgence program of the US, and those of us who are left are either too young, or demonized, and so they look to white produced and controlled images for a sense of self that only leads to perpetual self destruction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5as5S6eyZhg (white supremacy).
In closing, really think about what YOU are doing to fight oppression and suffering. I do all I can to advocate for those people who I feel comfortable advocating for, and to support those are are advocating for other oppressed people. This isn't about individuals being racist, but an institution that is complicit in the oppression and suffering that is rampant through this society. I do what I do out of love. If you are not interested in finding out what happened to black people, and other aggrieved communities to put us where we are in this country, then you should exclude yourself from being considered a person who is interested in justice. I always tell people that there are only two conclusions that can be drawn about the condition of black people in america. Either u believe deep down that black people are just inferior (collectively) or there are some social phenomenon that is impeding the livlyhood of black people. If you believe the latter, then u should be
asking yourself, what those are and how they manifest themselves. If you believe the former, then I deserve all the antagonism that I have recieved recently.
"The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who are silent in times of injustice" - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
You rock. That's why Blockbuster's offering you one month of Blockbuster Total Access, No Cost.
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