[eDebate] UDL's and college debate-check the facts.

scottelliott at grandecom.net scottelliott
Tue Aug 5 12:31:46 CDT 2008

As usual, Ede you are  wrong on several fronts. I think the ignorance is on your

The Louisville project, circa 2008 was put to me this way 1) Policy Debate is
too fast and too technical (I heard it four times this year alone) and 2) What
have YOU done to increase minority participation in policy debate? These are
the claims made by your teams as the key issues in college policy debate.

1) On the first issue, speed and technique. The evidence from UDL's refutes
this. If enough resources are put into minority debate programs, then students
can compete on those pesky technical topics and at a pretty fast clip. My
African American students seem to be able to handle the complexities of the job
and don't go home crying about the Klan of speedy speakers.

2) The more important point, what have YOU done to increase minority
particpation in policy debate at the college level. (I'll stand by my record any
day of the week.) I say if you create it, they will join. My program is a good
examle. From zero policy teams to ten teams. From zero African American
students to five in just one year, in rural Lousiana.  Again, what have YOU
done to increase minority
particpation in policy debate at the college level? This is the question your
teams pose to other teams around the country for at least eight years now. I
simply turn the mirror back at you and ask, what is your project doing to
actually create real advancements in the numbers of minorities particpating. I
say your strategy(s) of debating about debate is a failure.

You claim the reason why minority students do not participate is because the
topics are not germane to their lives. This is not me being paternalistic Ede,
this is straight up saying you are flat wrong. The past three topics and this
Ag topic have huge areas of research about the African-American expereince in
America and in the World.

I think your teams last year missed out on huge opportunities to
show how America's historic racism permeates our international relations. You
missed a huge teaching opportunity. I believe
your Project impoverished them and denied them a deeper analysis of race issues
in America and in the World. No Paternalism here.  The
current agriculture topic has a huge area regarding racial politics. Seriously,
the entire history of U.S. Agriculture is bound up in racism (e.g. slavery). I
just finished reading an article on how German POW's were used in the South to
cotton harvests during WWII, and to keep Black sharecroppers poor. Over 1
million African children will starve to death this year because the United
States has a cotton subsidies policy that benefits almost 100% white upper
class farmers. If you cannot convice minority students of the signficiance, and
relevance of these issues to your African American students--that is YOUR
failure, not a failure of the Topic. Your Project's focus on how debate is done
ignores the real issues of race the permeate just about every policy topic we
have. Can you not find an issue regarding race and racism inherent in a
Universal health care topic?

You say the debate practics and topics make it where African American students
do not WANT to compete. First, I say not true. I say it is because they cannot
afford to compete. The UDLs prove this and my own program proves it. If you
build a program and fund it, they will come. Second, I say it is your failure
to show how these issues effect their lives, not the topics. Third, not
everyone wants to play water polo. I don't like Halo III. Just because many
students do not want to debate does not mean that policy debate is racist.

You say debate dehumanizes the Black expereince because it wieghs impacts. I
think that you have not taught your students how to make good arguments then. I
would vote for a racism impact with a deontology D-rule and, in fact, I have
voted for it. The same with Justice impacts. Learn to take out a nuclear war
impact--its really not that hard. Policy debate does not exclude.
But it does force people to defend their arguments.

You say the reason why HBCU's left policy debate was because the norms of policy
debate changed. The only HBCU I know persoanlly was the Southern University CEDA
program. It stopped because of budget cuts. I think that there has been almost
zero push (Andy Ellis and a few are doing some work) by the policy debate
community to bring HBCU's back to policy debate. I think that if time were
spent recruiting and building new programs, instead of debating about debate,
real cahnges would be made. Ask yourself-which has a better chance of increasing
minority particpation in college polic debate--talking about how debate is
unfair within debates, or going out and creating a new policy program at an

On the other hand, if your claim is true that HBCU's left because of a culture
of exclusion, then you end up back at the orginal discussion point--namely,
your attempts to change the culture of policy debate have been a failure. It
has NOT increased Black participation in this activity to any significant
degree. And, therefore, it may be time to create an alternative organization
that will serve the needs of these underrrepresented students. From either
perspective your Project is not advancing your cause.

You claim that my argument about economics is racist and it ignores the Black
middle class. No. Not true. I think middle income students across the board
cannot afford to debate. I also think that a large percentage of the middle
class Black students you are referring to go to colleges and Universities that
do not have programs. So, what is racist about saying the resources (Directors,
coaches, and travel funds) do not exist for these students to participate? Your
ignorance of economics is distressing.

Your last point is that I am stereotyping Black students. Dude, you are the one
promoting, via your teams, that Black students cannot or will not compete
because college policy debate is too technical and debaters speak too fast. My
African American, and African-descent, debaters are insulted by YOUR
stereotyping of Black students as not being able to handle the complexities of
United States Public Policy. They are insulted by your insinuation that unless
the topic deals with which is better East Coast or West Coast hip hop, Black
students won't participate. We find issues of relevance to students personal
lives in every topic. Its called research.

Maybe you should check out what your teams are saying and arguing as part of
your project. Because the only stereotyping going on is within your Project. I
always like the racism charge when it is thrown because it usually gets people
off on the track of "I am not racist, some of my best friends........" I think
you should check yourself Ede, see what racial stereotyping you are engaged in,
if it matters. I believe your focus on debating about debate, rather than the
racial issues inherent within these topics is hurting your students  and is not
really advancing your overall cause.



Give me at least another year to get the state of Louisiana back on track with
policy debate, and I will take your $200 and show you that I can do in just a
few years, what you have failed to do in a decade. It seems, however, that you
would be the best person for the job. You would have the best chance of
reaching out to HBCU's and minority dominated Universities. But, when someone
tries to give you power, real power for real change, you always run away from

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