[eDebate] Josh's refusal to see his cultural difference

Ede Warner ewarner
Sat Apr 12 14:33:49 CDT 2008

Your outrage that I "disrespected" you with the tone of my response to your post once again ignores cultural differences to how we communicate.  For you, respect is about civility and tone.  If these elements exist, it is clear that any argument can be forwarded and deserves the right to be engaged by responding in kind, with a civil tone.  That for you, is productive conversation.  And for the majority of the 1,100 folks on this list, it is likely that they too, have a similar expectation of conversation.
For me, I am the minority in this discussion in terms of perspective on two levels: 1) as a racial minority fighting for inclusion; but also as 2) a stylistic minority challenging how the community trains itself in debate.  Cultural difference plays out in both relationships.  The same stylistic differences that I talk about between Black and white women are at work.  For you, tone and civility are the keys to respectful dialogue, but for me, the argument sets that tone just as much if not more.  Can't you see that generations of historical differences in "power" relationships create the different tones.  Blacks anger in conversation comes from a history of powerless, whether we are talking about the lack of wealth, political power, or even the ability to speak safely and freely in a classroom.  White civility comes from having that historical privilege and power.  So when an opportunity to discuss an argument grows out of what was essentially a mobilization of shared Black experiences in debate on the listserv that crossed debate ideology, can't you see that someone using a nice tone, but threatening that moment by moving the agenda, would be seen as 1) disrespectful; and 2) a threat.  Can you not see that the onus or responsibility to attempt to change that agenda required "on fire" evidence, and wouldn't be easily resisted without a fight?  Perhaps you can't, because for you, tone is respect, and arguments, well they are separate from tone.  Fair enough.
When I was growing up, it didn't matter how nice and civil you are where when you told a "your mama" joke, them were fighting words.  The argument or claim was key, not the tone.  My wife and argue sometimes in ways that you might perceive as utterly frightening, yet for us, it's what we do, and accepted for what it is.  I have had nastier, uglier fights with whites in completely civil tones than I've ever had with Blacks.  Why?  Cause most of the Blacks I know wouldn't get that far before it got physical.
Your attempts to marginalize me and my arguments because you don't like my tone may well be effective in a predominately white listening audience.  But there are 1,100 of you and most are not personally offended at this moment.  That at least gives me the chance to explain the cultural differences and hopefully, they can see the difference that you are unable to see.  If your efforts to create me as the angry irrational Black man in an effort to ignore my criticism of your strategic move succeed, then congratulations, good for you.  My hope and prayer is that this community has the critical thinking skills to see past that.  Take care,


From: Josh <jbhdb8 at gmail.com>
To:"Ede Warner" <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>
CC:"edebate at ndtceda.com" <edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 4/11/2008 10:35 PM
Subject: Re: Desperate Times?
This is literally absurd, I made an argument about what I perceive to be a major problem and long term trend facing debate.....You went crazy....It wasnt even directed at you...and you went way over the line.  I do believe MONEY is the LARGEST thing hurting debates ability to increase diversity.  You dont...Thats no reason to turn into a total jerk. 
No apologies = no discussion, dont question my integrity, insult me, and make a bunch of ad hominems if you want to mutual respect.  I have been excessively polite to you - you are treating me with zero respect - have a nice night.

On Fri, Apr 11, 2008 at 10:22 PM, Ede Warner <ewarner at louisville.edu> wrote:

I am all about assisting, showing empathy, and understanding the serious problems you face regarding University budgets.  We are all given the climate.  But the question is simple:  why did your frustration and your typing compel you to link it to the educational goals of debate discussion as opposed to keeping them separate?  Can you not see why 1) your credibility is shot when you make the connection because it changes the tone of your meaning; 2) nothing else you wrote supporting change matters (like a backhanded compliment) because the choice to make the explicit comparison becomes the central claim; 3) now you just whine without defending it; 4) what makes it worse is that you can answer an email in five minutes when you want, but when I ask people to begin discussing the educational goals of policy debate...silence.  
Your not the victim:  you are not the sole victim about dwindling debate budgets; your not the sole victim regarding people being flamed on e-debate (can't stand the heat)...surely I've taken my share the last few days..., and most importantly you are not the reason for why this conversation started or what this conversation means and your personal issues (budget) don't justify attempting to divert this discussion...
One day, the people in this community will see and understand that all of these problems are interrelated, and the aritifical efforts to make them separate and distinct is 1) bad policy making; 2) antithetical to every thing we touch; 3) ultimately self-destructive.
No pity parties or apologies today.  Engage productively and with some integrity or go away...This is bigger than your feelings or mine, whether you see that or not.  


From: Josh <jbhdb8 at gmail.com>
To:"Ede Warner" <e0warn01 at gwise.louisville.edu>
CC:"edebate at ndtceda.com" <edebate at ndtceda.com>
Date: 4/11/2008 08:54 PM
Subject: Re: Desperate Times?
I have responded to this letter in a backchannel to Doctor Warner.
I will honestly say certain things in this letter hurt my feelings more than a little...Let me highlight a few:

EW: It almost seems as if you are just flailing, desperate for anything to move the current debate in a different direction.  That's morbidly sad, but even worse, do you not understand that it's exactly the quality of arguments made in these efforts to avoid the truth that keep making me more convinced debate needs something different?  The coach of a late out-round team at the NDT makes an argument lacking basic reasoning skills.
EW:You look like a sad, under-educated self-serving obstructionist that will do anything with and to evidence to justify and protect your world.  I'm sorry if this is harsh, but this is really frustrating to a productive community conversation.  Please stop.
Ok, before this progresses.  Allow me to mention a few things:
1. I wrote this letter because I am very very frustrated with my own problems with getting University support despite a high level of success.  It literally was not addressed to Doctor Warner or the "current trends in debate."  I literally wrote the letter this refers to in a moment of frustration over internal University issues.
2.  I literally said changes in method and topics etc would be good - I said that I think there is a LARGER crisis and NOT that the crisis was ONE issue.
Now, that said, I refuse to engage in this conversation any longer.  I feel I have been trying to be extremely professional in my conversations with Doctor Warner lately.  I feel that this was not a fair or collegial response.  I believed before, as I do know, that Doctor Warner wants the best for Debate, that he is one of the best and most innovative coaches in the activity, and that I must have caught him at a bad time (since the letter was not addressed to him or anything that he has written lately).
Anyway, hope all goes well,



-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://www.ndtceda.com/pipermail/edebate/attachments/20080412/825b0338/attachment.htm 

More information about the Mailman mailing list