[eDebate] Knowing when NOT to debate

Ede Warner ewarner
Wed Apr 9 22:38:15 CDT 2008

I respect where you finished in #7 and appreciate your willingness to
reflect Duane.  One of the areas I uniquely see what I perceive to be a
contradiction in the white world regarding race and other issues of
privilege, is the merit standard which generally says more experience,
more qualified.  But in the area of "isms" those suffering the most, are
usually not treated as the most qualified to create policies to reduce
the suffering.  It's almost an inverse relationship, the more suffering
you've experience, and especially when you speak about it, the less
qualified you are.  That's a problem to me.  Someone who has suffered
the most is likely to have the most potential for compassion for others
in pain.  Not always true aka Clarence Thomas.  But usually.  
Your decision to conflate racism with institutional racism is where the
problem sits.  I can think of numerous examples where the action isn't
racist, everyone is treated the same, but the consequences are
disproportional.  Your examples "the water sign" all speak to
intentionality.  Unless we get past that hurdle, nothing productive can
happen.  My students at CEDA Nationals argued that MPJ was
institutionally racist and sexist because it disproportionately hurts
people of color and women.  I don't think that MPJ is racist or sexist
though.  Given that most consequences come from that institutional power
to make decisions that benefit onesself, society needs to be addressing
institutionalized forms of oppression.  Why?  Those are where the big
impacts are?  
That's explains why Dayvon can see a lot of white aesthetic all around
him and you see little racism.  Your inability to acknowledge, see, or
respect what he sees will create further alienation, hostility, and
distance between you two.  
Technically, by your definition, you are right.  By his, he is right. 
The question is: does society have the right or is it in society's best
interest to ignore his definition or not treat it with just as much
resolve as yours?  You tell me...


From: Duane Hyland <privethedge at yahoo.com>
To:Ede Warner <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>, Steven D'Amico
<stevendamico at gmail.com>
CC:<edebate at ndtceda.com>, Dayvon Love <dplove05 at yahoo.com>
Date: 4/9/2008 09:40 PM
Subject: Re: [eDebate] Knowing when NOT to debate
Dear Dr. Warner:
As promised. Now that I'm home from work and practice, I will attempt
to answer your questions. It's been a while since I've taken an essay
test - so...
1) I would call that racism. Any circumstance which impacts a person
BECAUSE of their race is racism. If there's a sign on a water fountain
that says "whites only." That's racism. If you go to the mortgage broker
and he or she refuses you a mortgage because you don't "belong" in a
certain part of town - racism. Where the line gets cloudy for me is if
you are debating  white team and that team wins - is it racism? Is it
that the other team was better? I don't know what to call that.
2) The examples above could be called institutional racism - obviously
in the Jim Crowe south the governments of the states mandated racism as
a matter of course. And, restrictive covenants etc are examples of
racism. So, there I would say there is no difference. I guess the big
difference here is that I don't perceive the NDT or CEDA or the debate
community to be racist. If any thing - I think on matters of race and
acceptance they are some of the most forward thinking people I've ever
known. I don't consider the way the debate world has evolved into speed
and gamesmanship to be racist - I think African American debaters can
and do adapt and suceed in the way the game is played today. I'll
confess that where as I will never be able to change your view on some
things, I can't change my view on this - I understand it's not
attractive to some (the speed, the technical nature of the activity) but
I don't view that as racist. Same way as if I went out to play football
- I wouldn't consider the guy 
tackling me to be racist simply because he
was knocking me on my ass every down - Id' say that's the way it is.
3) Sure..giving a black team a loss and having to really think about
ways to have them lose - that's covert racism in action - I can justify
the decision anyway I want, I don't have to come out and say "you're
black (again, confused on black or African American - nobody has given
me guidance here) you lose." But I could justify it in other ways.
BUT..what if I pick the black team up because I feel that blacks have
been opprressed, etc and I want to "even" the score..am I then guilty of
reverse racism?
4) Of course scientists draw conclusions from the evidence. And Dayvon
has done his research and reached his conclusions. NOW..let me ask you
in 1981, in 6th grade, a black student beat the crap out of me in the
classroom - he had been held back 3 times, was much larger and a lot
more violent than me - the teacher didn't even intervene out of fear. I
got a chipped tooth, a concussion, and some wounded pride. Now...should
I conclude that all black males are violent? Out to beat down people?
How many experiences do I get before I can make the similiar far
reaching conclusions that Dayvon has? 
5) I'm not sure that Dayvon is an expert on race anymore than I am. If
he has 100 instances of racism to my one instance....I would say he's
suffered more than I have, but I'm not sure that confers expert status.
I will say that he is probably more able to judge his life choices, made
from his experience, than I am able to judge his life choices.
6) Yes..That I see. Thank you for pointing that out to me. It was wrong
me to assume that he hadn't. But, Dr. Warner - what if, based on my
experience in 1981 - I decided that all Blacks were to be avoided.
Wouldn't you call out my assumptions? And offer reasons why I might be
wrong to take that view? I would like to think that you would challenge
my assumptions (if I had made that particular set of assumptions) and
try to change my mind - rather than let me go on thinking that way. at
least I hope you would.
7) Again, thank you for reminding me that I'm not the sole arbiter. I
sometimes tend to view the world in absolutes..it's a habit I'm working
on breaking. 
I meant no ill will in what I posted. I just hate to see students cut
themselves off, for whatever reason, from the world - a bit part of
debate is getting to know other people, to get to see other lifestyles
(one of the reasons I'm passionate, for instance, about gay rights is
because one of my debate partners was gay, and through him I learned
about the issues that gay men and women face and it was  cause that
interested me), etc....And, I just didn't want him to be cut off.
I think you are very right to say that only discussion and
confrontation of this subject is a way to provoke changed minds. I
re-read my post and I can see that it was sanctimonious (sic) and your
criticisms have made me think.  I think the college debate community has
changed a lot since I was a part of it in the 80's and 90's. I think,
perhaps, I should come to a couple of tourneys next year (if nobody will
beat on me for walking the door) and really observe what goes on..I
think it might be educational.
1) What do you call situations that create disproportional consequences
on a racial group?
2) What, if any, difference do you see between your definitions of
"racism" and "racist" versus definitions of institutional racism?  
3) Can you name an example of covert racism that couldn't be also
argued to be something other than racism?  Given that your definition
requires expressed intent, is not everything that doesn't have that
express overt intent?
4) In debate Duane, we can factor in quantity of evidence.  What
quantity of experiences can Dayvon look at for evidence before he can
convince you that he has seen enough to draw conclusions.  Scientists
certainly draw conclusions based on correlations, don't they?
5) If Davyon has hundreds of experiences a
bout race and you
substantially less, does he get credit in your mind of being more
qualified on the issue than you are?  Or do you think that both of your
voices are equally credible?
6)  Duane, can you not understand how your attempts to get Davyon to
see other possibilities, assumes that he hasn't already considered them
and rejected them?  And your choice to assume he hasn't forces him to
constantly have to be interrogated by you.  Given that you and he might
disagree about the first three questions, when does he have the right to
stop considering your alternatives and conclude that he is right about
what he believes?
7) Finally, your definitions of "racism" are just that, your
definitions.  They completely ignore his discussion of "institutional
racism" so much so that you seem to treat them the same?  Does Dayvon
have the right to define things differently then you do?  And if he
does, why should we just accept your definitions as the "correct ones"
and why should he be given the burden of proof to justifying using yours
instead of his?
Most importantly, none of this gets at the central question of whether
your attempts at forcing him to think differently, functions to
marginalize and minimize his feelings and his experiences.  You seem
very dismissive of that reality.  Duane would you engage some of the
examples I have used in previous posts, making analogies of the
emotional toll of racism, whether real or perceived, and why critcism is
a productive response to those feelings?
You seem stuck in your box based on your experiences Duane and that
justifies for you not listening to the full context of what is being
said at so many levels, that even I'm not sure this is productive.

"You may be whatever you resolve to be." Thomas J. Jackson"
"If all mankind minus one were of one opinion and only one person were
of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing
that person that he, if he had the power, would be in silencing mankind

If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of
exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great
a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth,
produced by  its collision with error." John S. Mill
 Who said Dr. Who isn't Funny: "Rose: You Didn't Have to Kill him!
Dalek: "Neither did we need him to live."
Dalek to Cyberman: :"You are Superior to us in one respect." Cyberman:
"What is that?" Dalek: "Dying!"

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