[eDebate] Are you serious?

Ede Warner ewarner
Wed Aug 6 17:38:55 CDT 2008

No rest for the weary...
Let me get this straight:  you are coming at me like I started this?  Hostile email from the guy who claims he tried to get Deven to acknowledge my contributions to their success during the final round, only further demonstrating the lack of ethical boundaries and out of control behavior that I'm speaking of.  Now you want to run to his defense like I'm treating him unjustly?  You can't check him, but when he shows his figurative behind by randomly calling me out publicly, when I'm showing support for what they are doing, in spite of my concerns and misgivings, you want to challenge me for fighting back?  And then declare him a leader of some type of movement?  And you are suprised that I have legitimate concerns about whites attempting to raise these children...Are you serious?  Or is your issue that you are frustrated that you know I'm right and your decision to attach him to your movement puts the whole thing at serious risk?  No matter, we got plenty of body bags to go around...
Two weeks ago on America's Best Dance Crew, Lil Mama said that the "Boogie Bots" didn't get her excited.  Last week she apologized to them, not for what she said, but because she didn't say it to their face.  Andy, let me apologize for not clearly stating my position on policy debate training and it's relationship to UDL's and how all of it relates to the issue I am currently concerned with, the non-strategic nature of minority impacts in policy debate as this issue relates to increasing effective decision making in a multicultural society.   Give me a moment though, let's dispense with the irrelevant distractions you bring to the discussion because you are falling over your privilege trying to demonize me in an effort to restore some ethical and moral center for Deven. I'm still not sure why my words affect anyone other than him, but I'm sure at some point you'll tell me.
What I don't do for Black folks in the prison, economy, workforce, education system, middle class
I don't march.  I don't organize.  I don't protest.  I don't work at soup kitchens.  I don't teach debate in prisons.  I don't volunteer at a homeless shelter.  I don't do anything that I suspect Andy would respect as actively contributing to all of these causes.  Let's be clear:  I think all of these are noble, I just don't do them. I don't directly contribute to any questions in your list, save perhaps education.
What do I do for Black folks
I raise two Black boys.
I am a Black husband.
I am one of a small, minute percentage of Black professors in the nation. And one of only a handful that actually speak to issues of race on my job.
For fifteen years, I went to work daily in a predominately white work environment, in a predominately white city, in a predominately white city, in a predominately white state, in a predominately white country, in a predominately non-white world.
I recently had my job appointment moved from the predominately white Communication Department to Pan African Studies.
I recently entered our debate program into a teaching partnership with the Center for Social and Criminal Justice in the Black Community, where debate will develop and teach distance education programs for Pan-African Studies.
For seventeen years, I have researched and written arguments about the Black condition for use in a predominately white debate community.
For eight years, I have maintained a predominately Black debate team on a predominately white campus.  I have created a program with a net worth of almost $400,000 from an original scholarship and travel budget of less $50,000, with a disproportionate amount of those resources supporting Black students and staff.
>From those experiences in debate, I am in the process of writing books that challenge how we make decisions in American society, decisions that affect Black folks in all of the areas you discuss, whether you believe that these issues are connected.  But enough about who I am...
Plantation rhetoric
Two Black men, one an elder with a terminal degree, the other an undergraduate student, have a public discussion about personal responsibility and respect, after the younger calls out the elder. Then a white man jumps in and feels it is justified to not only enter the discussion but to condemn the elder, questioning the elder's commitment to Black people.
The same white man, ironically, who repeatedly has asked the Black man to participate/fund/support his "urban" outreach endeavors, which I have chosen to not do due to the lack of mutual respect in the relationship. You have supported this dictator rhetoric explicitly and implicitly, even calling me out on a conference panel we sat on, then you wonder why I won't support your initiatives.  Are you serious?
Two years ago, the Black man referred to UDL's as a plantation.  Although he is not affiliated with these programs in any way, somehow this is spun as damaging to the program. Ironically that rhetoric came in conjunction with on-going battles with most of the predominately white college debate community, even when before that he made a good faith effort to come participate at UDL events, only to be met with backlash and disrespect at most of these events. John Davis stood up and insulted me and my program for 45 minutes, and that was during his introduction! No one checked this behavior either.
A Black man creates a different program, using the attributes of collectivity found in the Civil Rights Movement and is called authoritarian throughout this community for those decisions simply because they deviate from the norm. As well as several other names.
Teaching Black students that they should always fight, they should always have autonomy, and that hierarchies are always bad, which is a growing part of debate's empowerment pedagogy, is dangerous for Black and other minority students who will reap disproportionate consequences if they engage in some of these behaviors at the same level white students do, like swearing rants in email posts. The consequences for such behavior is not the same.
Deven, Towson, and UDL's
1990 - Black debate coach writes his first Black argument on the topic.  For ten years, his predominately white teams debate his arguments about Black people.
2000- Black debate coach decides to recruit a predominately Black team.  Met with substantial community backlash when he decides to do this by not speaking fast in debates. Called dictator, totalitarian, for the first of many times.
2001- Predominately Black debate team begins a process of making a general criticism of the debate community as it relates to Black participation
2004- Predominately Black debate team achieves national success with it's general criticism.  Tremendous community backlash accompanies success.
2003-2005 - UDL's invite Black Director to speak at a variety of UDL events.  Often met with hostility and backlash by students, coaches alike. Certainly creates discussion, division at these events as some students and coaches get excited, others hate it.  One of these programs is the Baltimore UDL and Towson University.
2005 - Black Director criticizes UDLs as plantations, speaking specifically to the lack of equality between UDL and non-UDL debate opportunities. Also suggests that larger policy debate community treats UDL's as inferior and UDL officials must challenge those stereotypes.
2005 - Against the wishes of the team, Black Director abandons the general Blackness criticism of the community.  Met with backlash from team and some factions of the debate community.
2006 - Deven transfers to Towson.  He and partner begin to use the general criticism that Louisville abandons.
March 2008- Towson wins national championship with new and improved version of the general criticism.  Black director shows support for their accomplishments and defends them against the huge backlash they face.  Deven then criticizes Black director for how he operates program. Black director choses not to engage his criticism.
August 2008- Towson releases video of a heated altercation after debate.  Black director shows support.  Deven criticizes Black director again.  Black director responses.  White coach "calls" him out for hurting a person and a movement.
Why Policy Debate hurts Minorities, in particular urban youth (which includes UDLs):  Debate training makes minority impacts non-strategic; this requires an abandonment of minority identity (can't strategically address issues important to their identity) during participation; UDL's made up of mostly minorities; Policy Debate hurts UDL students.  And you call this minor because UDL's are doing non-debate things too? WOW!
White Racial Privilege: Let's be clear Andy, privilege operates differently for the two of us.  You confront yours by working tirelessly by creating outreach programs, etc.  I can respect those sacrifices and appreciate them.  But I face a very different set of challenges as a walk through my career.  If I run a program that is decentralized like most, then my program would look like everyone else.  My centralization to force confrontation with white privilege is no different than a white director's decentralization in an effort to "let students find themselves".  I confront my power and privilege with the sacrifices I make to create a program that directly addresses race, as opposed to others that decentralize with the hope that Blacks will show up and be supported in the decentralized system.  And the fact that you and most of the others in the community, haven't spent much time thinking about those differences, and in support and even encouraging my castigation means I got no love, and I haven't had any in a while.  Ironically, I agreed today to go to Kansas City for their Great Debate event in September and now I have to rethink that.  I don't want to come off as a hypocritic.  I'm really sensitive to putting my face in front of these activities if I fundamentally disagree with what is going on, and if my face legitimizes them.   
Finally, I don't care whether you answer me or not.  And the war was originally waged on Deven, not Towson or the UDL's, but if you see it differently, just let me know.  Like Deven, you initiated this, but best believe, I'm going to finish it!  

From: "Andy Ellis" <andy.edebate at gmail.com>
To:eDebate <eDebate at www.ndtceda.com>
Date: 8/6/2008 03:52 PM
Subject: [eDebate] If its war you want...
Then so shall it be...

I'm not going to engage you in a debate about deven, deven will handle himself, but just like with mel gibson some people are actually listening to you, and the words you say about the UDLs as you attack deven  have meaning, but they also betray how detached you are from what is actualy going on,  i  won't simply  defer to you and watch you do the kind of damage you did  with the plantation metaphor .

So you like to ask people questions about meaningful black participation let me ask you a few

What are YOU doing to increase meaningful black participation in the workforce?
What are YOU doing to decrease meaningful black participation in the prisons?
What are YOU doing to increase meaningful black participation in the economy?
What are YOU doing to increase meaningful black participation in the education system?

we have data from baltimore to back up what we are doing, and people working on things that are far bigger than this conversation, and debate as VIK says is a means to an end. An end you profess to care about but seem to think will only occur through better policy debates. It won't . Debate can help and be part of a process, but better debates that speak to topical minority issues will only help so much, though they no doubt play a part of the process.

also WHAT are YOU doing to increase black leadership in college debate? Have you created new programs that are now headed by black folks? We are trying and have asked for your help and advice, and invited you to attend our college summer camp and our tournaments, but with one exception you do nothing, so im gonna stop asking you and lead, and create opportunities for those folks who may not fit your middle class standards of structure and value.

Heres another question, What are YOU doing to increase meaningful black particpation in the middle class you seem to admire so much? 

so if you are gonna wage war on deven and towson and the UDLS then i am ready, you have speant to long attacking people who won't respond to you, and have declared your intention to hurt a person and a movement that actually exists in the real world and you simply won't get to just do that. I'm not attached to a team, I'm not scared, and im not gonna defer to the played notions of change you have propagated and i have internalized for the last several years.

You don't have to respond now i wont, i will be busy trying to make sure we have the money to create the kind of jobs you point out rightly are not currently available. So flail about all you like, when i have done my work i will answer you.

Andy Ellis
Managing Director 
Youth Organizing Urban Revitalization Systems
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