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Author Topic: The experiment has failed...  (Read 36281 times)
chunsr5
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« on: November 15, 2012, 12:00:54 AM »

The following does not represent the views of any institution or University and are solely my own.

“The experiment has failed…”

For context on this post, I made a few edits to my judge philosophy for Georgia State. If you have not read it, the relevant change is below:

“Race/Project teams:

--I have a suggestion for you this year. Try me. This is not to say that I am easily persuaded by your claims. In fact, I am certainly the critic that you probably strike. But hear me out, if you really want to change debate and the culture, you are going to have to convince judges like myself rather than your ordinally ranked top 25. If it is solely about the win, then I understand if you do not want me. However, I do think I can be persuaded. I do think I have a lot to learn and develop on these issues. I cannot guarantee that I will move away from my beliefs, but at least we will have a dialogue. If you have any questions about my predispositions on these issues, feel free to ask me at a tournament or email me at seungwon DOT chung AT gmail DOT com. The door is open: now it’s your move.”

Three tournaments into the season, I found myself judging a debate between two schools at the Shirley. One was a traditional policy school. And the other was (for lack of a better phrase) “race/project” team. First, I would like to applaud the latter team for engaging in the dialogue. But that is not where the story ends. I am refraining from mentioning any of the schools’ names not because I wish to be secretive, but because I do not wish to overstep any boundaries (as I do not know how the respective schools would respond to me naming them). Detective work can provide you with the details if you really must know.

I ended up voting for the traditional policy school (who was affirmative), after what I thought was an incredibly close debate. A coach of the opposing team came in for the tail end of the RFD and discussion. They listened for maybe five minutes, if I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt I’d say eight. They then proceeded to ask what I would describe to them as a “caricature of my decision.” “So you basically voted on try or die.” I guess? That is a small part of the decision, but the difference at the end of a close debate. The discussion was over. I thought the debaters had more questions; but the verbals and non-verbals were given to signaled by the coach “I don’t want to hear more, let’s get out of here.”

As I have done with a couple of the other debates I have judged, I offered to email my RFD along with a bunch of additional comments to the debaters. I received the emails from the winning team. The other team remained silent. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I asked them on my way out if they wanted to give me their email address. They said: “No thanks, we tried you. The experiment has failed.”

Sitting in the passenger seat on the way back to the Sundance, I contemplated what those words could have meant. Did they think I was ignorant? Stupid? Or maybe it was as I had originally thought, they lost so they did not want to take the chance that they could lose again. If you think I am ignorant, I implore you to look deeper into our engagement. I listened. I questioned. I sought to make your argument more persuasive for people who hold similar beliefs to me. If you think I’m stupid, I believe this is where we part paths. No matter what debate I judge, I give a determined effort to make a fair and reasoned decision. You can disagree with my decisions. It happens. I’ve been at the bottom of a 4-1. But, on the whole, I am trying to give you the tools you might need to make progress in the judging community. Only if you listen. What would have happened if I had voted for them? Would that have been an experimental success?

Defining success: success of the experiment is causing me to question my assumptions and my beliefs. I did. Again, this is not to say that I prefer listening to this style of debate. But there were moments, written on my flow, and when I explained it in my RFD where I stopped and thought. There were moments when the negative’s arguments were resonating with me. There were moments when the affirmative’s arguments were not. The 2NC was fantastic. The 2NR was a couple adjustments away from winning the debate. The dialogue had begun. I surprisingly excited to discuss with the negative all of the things that I thought would have made the difference in the debate for them. All of that development, and the experiment was deemed a failure.

Well your experiment might have failed, but I consider mine a resounding success. I have made progress understanding the argument, the potential it has, and I think I have gained additional insight on why some programs debate the way they do.

My experiment is just my way of trying to understand and listen. For many of you, you do not really know me; you just assume that a policy debater from Wake Forest University conforms to a particular identity. Yes, I am privileged. I have grown up with the loving and full support of my hard-working parents. I attribute a lot of the success I have been able to achieve to the privileged position they put me in. I have only recently begun to interrogate the position of others, through several thoughtful and enlightening conversation with various members of the debate community far less privileged than myself. I’m not perfect, but I hope I am getting there. I care a lot about the debate community. So when I see this dogmatic response to engagement, I worry.

This is where it gets real.

Stop. I am asking you to stop alienating and attacking people who are trying to engage. I’m asking you to stop assuming the worst of people. I read the thread that Sarah Spring started. I first read it when it got posted during the Shirley and thought it was incredibly insightful. Then, I watched it develop into a defensive, borderline ignorant response on the part of some of the posters. Stop twisting words. Stop looking for racism and oppression in everything. It makes you look less credible. There is a real crisis being faced by the debate community. The representation of womyn and people of color in our activity IS a real problem. Stop making out members of the community as your “cookie cutter” white oppressor. When someone responds to you in a post “line-by-line,” they are not trying to oppress you. They are trying to engage you.

Done yet? I’m not. Stop using the word “authentic.” I find it divisive and alienating. How do you know Sarah Spring or anyone who tries to reach out is not authentic? It is this kind of dogmatic approach that I see as part of the struggle to create a larger coalition. To be honest, it is this attitude that has made it take so long for me to pursue my engagement.

I do believe there is a problem with elitism in debate. I also believe that there is a problem with a “holier than thou” group who judge members of the debate community from their pedestal. It sickens me. I worry that this judgment is used to make individuals to create moral hierarchies. I worry that these individuals care so much about their place on a higher rung of this hierarchy that they concoct ways to see flaws in the people that reach out. I worry that they do this to preserve their place in the moral hierarchy. I hope I am wrong. I pray that y’all are genuine. I believe most of you are. But just like you call upon members of the privileged community to call each other out when they make improper comments about Louisville or Towson (referring to Deven’s post on Sarah Spring’s thread), I hope you call out individuals you suspect of being dogmatic.

I’ll leave this conversation with a bit of optimism. Someone showed me a post that from my understanding comes from one of the “secret facebook groups designed to overthrow all that is good in debate” (read: sarcasm). The post in question refers to my judge philosophy and whether or not particular teams should pref me. I saw few responses that caught my attention:
1) Outright rejection of the possibility --- “this must be sarcastic.”
2) Some people I consider my good friends in the community coming to my defense.

I hope more of y’all are like the latter than the former. If so, there is a lot of progress to be made, and it certainly can be. I’m sure I will be attacked. I guarantee it. But before you do, I beg you to read deeper and understand where I am coming from and where I want to go. Be reflexive. I do not think any of y'all are horrible people, I think we can all benefit from more engagement.

Regards,

SC
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chunsr5
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« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2012, 12:02:47 PM »

A response to Rashad Evan's post (http://www.rwesq.com/yet-another-failed-expiriment/):

You ask a bunch of rhetorical questions. Who would I be without Wake Forest? Who would I be in this community but for my commitment to the plan and the resolution? It would be naïve to say I would be no different. Just as it is equally naïve to believe that Wake Forest constitutes identity. Just as it is equally naïve to believe that “my commitment to the plan and the resolution” constitutes my identity. Just as it is blatantly insulting for you to try to ad hominem me by talking about making jokes about the project/race teams. I would be, more or less, the person that I am now.

A side note: if you ever. And I mean ever, demean me in a post by using a pejorative such as “the Asian man” again, the conversation is over. I apologize if you think I was being off the cuff before. And I do want an engaging conversation. But it seems whenever someone tries to open up, the response is to deride and make fun of them.

What makes me think I was competent enough to properly judge that debate? I’ll get into the substance of this. But this is just insulting. Not because you question my competence, but because of how you do it.

Learn to listen. I know I am not competent and well versed in the argument. I am not even saying I made the right decision. I made the best decision with my knowledge, understanding, and with the debate at hand. You are so committed to presuming that I believe in my superiority. You are so committed to believing in my arrogance. You cannot see what is right in front of you. Yes, I lack the training. Through straight up rounds judged, rounds debated, books read, people engaged. If that makes me irredeemable in your eyes, you have a big problem. How does one become more “trained”? How does one meet your burden of competence if they are never allowed a starting point? Again, this dogmatism sees the starting flaws and attacks. This dogmatism is fighting to close off any positive possibility from this engagement.

No, I do not think I am better than the debaters. I had what I thought was an insightful RFD cross-ex with them. That engagement to me was valuable. Do I perfectly understand how they see the debate? The debate community? No. But I am getting there. I think I am competent enough to judge the debate round from my perspective and learn and evolve while I do it. I am smart enough to know I am not there. I am not on your level of understanding. Instead of trying to figure out what I am trying to say, you are trying to say I made the wrong decision. Instead of really listening and reading the context, you want to make this a referendum on my intelligence.

This is why you will fail. We would not be having this conversation if I had made the same post and I had said “guess what! I voted for the project/race team!” Does that statement hurt you? Did you think to yourself… he’s lying? Stop fooling yourself.

You misunderstood a lot of my experiment. You chose to assume the worst because I labeled it an experiment. I did not tell them “whatever, I got what I needed, thanks.” They did. They are they one’s that said, “the experiment has failed.” And that, was the point of my original post. I wasn’t there to study them. I was there to be the judge. I could copy parts of my original post to show you that you are actually reading events the opposite way. Then you would call me patronizing. Perhaps that is what you want to see. The next stage in this process cannot be to deride me or ignore my engagement. It has to be to figure out where the communication went wrong.

I don’t think you have to be nice or risk alienating us. Not in an absolute sense. I am asking you to be reasoned. I am asking you to realize there is not one monolithic identity that can be prescribed to whiteness. There are cracks and fissures. You could see them or exploit them if you were not behaving so dogmatic. Stop ascribing my argument to those that you have heard before, especially when you know it’s not. It’s this regression to the big monolithic white community, with no deviation and no nuance, that I think hurts the ability of you and I to have a productive conversation. I want it. But the real question is… do you?

I do not get the presumption of innocence. I never said that. There is a medium between presumption of innocence and presumption of guilt. Let’s find it.

I’ll leave you with one final thought. Again, this will hurt. It’s fun for you to call people out for not being as engaged, as black, as knowledgeable as you. You seem to get entertainment by making jokes about me “cutting politics updates” as if you know me. As if that is my identity. I think it’s schadenfreude to you. You enjoy that there are people for you to criticize. You enjoy that you can establish your superiority. Maybe you are. If you are, then help me get to where you are. Stop twisting my words. Stop looking for the whiteness in everything I do. Am I wrong? Part of me thinks so, but with the responses of late, I cannot be entirely sure.

Regards,

SC
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stephen.mf.davis
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« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2012, 02:09:29 PM »

a point of clarification--


i am the they that these post are referring to--i said "the expeirment has failed" i believe that it did and ill get to  specifically what that means in a moment.

first id like to say that i am making no attempt to wade into any of this, have not read all of the spring posts and responses-- and have not read all of rashad's stuff, nor do i think that he needs a great white  paternalistic a hole to help him with any of this. I've  been busy and might not ever get around to wading into that debate--i reserve the right to but for now i would just like to clarify a few things regarding the experiment and its failure


a. it sometimes takes some effort to convince my students to trust that i have placed a judge in the rounds that they should be excited about--that is open to listening to them, that will adjudicate the round as fairly as possible and that they have a fair shot at winning the debate in front of the specific individual that has been placed in their round. this is no doubt an effect of the situation debaters of color are in vis a vis this community--its never a safe space for them and some of what i attempt to do is mediate the safety of that space by exerting some control over the pref sheet. as much as we are always looking for new judges,  my students tend to be extra cautious and skeptical of many members of this community--  i am not attempting to speak for them or attempting to be paternalistic here just speaking honestly about the observations i've been able to make in my time here at towson. Frankly, i  cannot blame them.

b. If my students are to trust me( not completely obviously--i am a white guy after all) but enough for us to have a working relationship they need to know that i trust them and will back them up in all instances without question or condition. so when they tell me that a. this was a poor decision  or b. the RFD is not helping to them understand why they lost or promoting a dialog that helps them to understand this--i have only one choice-- to trust that what they are perceiving is true for them. regardless of how you see yourself in that debate or the capitial T truth of who you are as a critic their perception is what governs your reappearance on our pref sheet.  in this respect, the experiment of trying out a new judge had failed--communication broke down--they didn't understand you and you didn't understand them--at least well enough to explain to them why they lost in such a way that made them ok with it--in such a way that they could see the decision coming down to what you said it came down to-- that is not their failure--they are students, we are educators--when you don't understand why you should vote for them--thats' their fault--when they don't understand how or why you voted--that's yours.

c. its a tacky and classless move to put my team and me on blast on the internet because you took what you even admit could have been a relatively benign statement( explained above as such) to mean something about you and how we relate to this community and the judges who have the privilege of seeing my students. you could have sent me an email--i would have explained that not everyone that drops  us falls off the pref sheet-- some people are better at explaining some shit to people that are different than themselves--for whatever reason my students got nothing productive from their experience of having you judge them--experiment failed--not that big of a deal and certainly not a reason to have some long drawn out state of you vs. race teams discussion on cedaforums-- in your 10 minute car ride back to the hotel did it ever cross your mind that this isn't about you--that the dynamics a play in those debates are more complicated than you figured and that maybe,  just maybe,  you didn't do the best job you could have done in explaining your decision such that these girls would listen to you. 
or was it easier to assume that stephen just wanted to be mean to you because he  couldn't care less about  your written down RFD.

d. CLEARLY, i put you in that room, i took you up on it when no one else would and many of my contemporaries and even my students told me i was a fool.  i did so knowing full well that you might not get it but i did so because i believed what your philosophy said--i believed that you believed what it said. i obviously thought there was a potential for my students to have a valuable experience in that round and no one is more disappointed than i am that they didn't. it didn't work-- not because you dropped us(staples of our sheet that will never go anywhere do that all the time) but because for whatever reason the debater didn't understand why they lost and you were unable to help them understand that. experiment failed--

e.   those girls run FOUCAULT. their argument is a critique of the liberal subject, the individual,  and the process which produces race in the first place. in laymans terms, they read "identity politics bad".  they are not a project team--they talk a lot about overcoming their racialized identity--the argue for the radical freedom from all identities that have been constructed to divide a separate individuals from their communities which causes all violence. speaking as a strategist  i didn't realize that you don't have a terrible amount of experience judging the K proper--those two are much more a K team than they are a race team in that respect. theres prolly some things about amalgamating all of these teams into one monolithic notion of what a race team means to you--but ill leave you to contemplate that

f. ive got no beef-- i had no beef at the end of that round and provided you are done running your mouth about me and my team to the internet--i will have no future beef-- we can have as many backchannel emails about this as you would like but this forum is not a place i want to have these conversations with you and it really only risks hurting either your reputation( a times you sound kinda like your trying to claim the role of the victim) or my students--as everyone already knows im prone to saying jerky things-- i don't actually think i said or did anything too jerky here--our shit isn't for everyone, some of the people i most love and respect in this community don't want to or are not suitable to judge it , im cool with that, so are they --just let that be ok... not everything has to be a big ass deal.

respectfully,


stephen davis
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chundr6
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« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2012, 02:35:46 PM »

Against my better judgment, I'm going to enter this discussion. I may save you some time by noting that Seungwon is my brother and I also went to Wake Forest, an institution that Rashad has described as a "main circulator of anti-blackness." While I strongly disagree with the assessment of Wake Forest as that type of institution, if those two facts alone warrant a dismissal of what I have to say, you can stop reading right now. However, I think dismissing anyone on those grounds alone is short-sighted.

I understand that this is a subject necessarily infused with passion, strong opinions, and even anger. In these circumstances, people can say things they don't mean or things that are hurtful to others. However, I fear that this discussion either already has, or soon will, devolve into attacks on people, not ideas. I want to attempt to bring us back from that brink and focus on the actual issue advanced.

There was one, clear main point in Seungwon's post. He expressed his belief that the current dialogue on this contentious subject is being undermined by a refusal by both sides (both sides, not just one) to engage in a two-way dialogue. What he identified as his issue, his problem, was the the "signal by the coach "I don't want to hear more, let's get out of here." What caused him much discomfort was not the arguments read by either team, but the apparent lack of desire to engage, to discuss. What caused him discomfort was that after one debate, another person (not Seungwon) had deemed that "[t]he experiment has failed." This is, in fact, the core of what his post was meant to communicate. Stephen's post provides more insight into the some of the motivations of the comments (and obviously speaks to the danger of assuming motives), but the central point of Seungwon's post (two-way dialogue) is still intact.

I hesitate to attach a monolithic expression of the goals of group that is composed of different individuals, different goals, and different ideologies. But I can't help but assume that some form of two-way dialogue must at least be a component. Seungwon's post was an expression of what he perceived to be a one-way dialogue in a particular circumstance. He wants to engage in the dialogue, attempted to engage in the dialogue, but according to the event he described, was told that dialogue was not necessary because "the experiment had failed." Why? Because he had voted on try or die? His point was that he believed that there was more productive dialogue to be had that he felt had been foreclosed. Stephen has since enlightened us on the rationale, but at the time, this is how Seungwon felt. The fact that he had voted affirmative in THIS round does not mean he is forever disposed to vote that way. I think he wanted to stress that such a dialogue is an on-going process, one not determined by a single judging interaction.

What has been expressed by Seungwon is not a blind adhesion to white privilege and the institutions that uphold that privilege. The description of my brother as an Asian man voluntarily defending his "white cohorts" and "aligning" himself with whiteness is incredibly problematic. Your rhetoric is inflammatory for a reason, it's a part of your strategy, but it's not productive. It's easier to attack the views of an Asian lackey (we're Korean by the way), willfully snipping at the heels of his white cohorts. But that is NOT what is going on here. It's inaccurate at best and offensive at worst. Seungwon says he "recently begun to interrogate the position of others" and is "not perfect, but [hopes] that [he is] getting there." It's an expression of a desire to understand, to reflect, and to progress. Before you attempt to recharacterize another person's intentions, consider the actual facts.

I believe Rashad's post mischaracterized Seungwon's post in several ways: (1) that Seungwon was asking for a "cookie" for being willing to hear a "race" team, (2) not competent, (3) that Seungwon was the one who forwarded the concept of an experiment and that such a term is belittling, (4) assuming the use of the phrase "race/project" team in a demeaning manner. All of these mischaracterizations are relevant because he uses them to question the intent behind Seungwon's "experiment." He then proceeded to, unnecessarily, throw in insults and asides ("after you do your politics updates"). I fail to see how comments like these can advance the conversation in a productive manner. Not productive in a "white" sense, but productive in the sense that I honestly believe and hope that change is something all parties are interested in. I think we as a community are much more likely to succeed in realizing actual change if we ALL choose to be less divisive through personal attacks.

At no point did Seungwon ask to be rewarded for listening to a "race" team. He described his experience in a particular round, described a following event that he found disturbing to him, and forwarded a request for a more open dialogue. He was not on an "anthropological study." He changed his judge philosophy because he wanted to become engaged in a dialogue that he believes to be important, both to him and to the community. It's not a declaration of "here I am, so change me."

It was not Seungwon who used the term "experiment." Your reference to a "little trip to Africa" is cute but wholly inaccurate. It was a coach of the other team who introduced the concept. It was a term that someone else chose. To go after his post on those grounds reflects at least a surface level ignorance of the actual facts of this discussion. If you have a problem with that term, your issue is with someone else.

Seungwon has already adequately addressed the question of competence.

There is no good, succinct way to describe the group of persons Seungwon was trying to engage with. Perhaps there shouldn't be, because it is an attempt to find one universal term to describe a diverse set of people. Truth be told, "race/project/whatever you would call it" teams is obviously an outdated and wholly inadequate term. But at no point was he using it to be demeaning: do not delude yourself and others into thinking otherwise. He even acknowledged his reluctance to use that particular phrase ("the other was (for lack of a better phrase) “race/project” team").

"What incentive do you have to change debate when that change would make someone like you obsolete?": "You finally got fed up with them so much that you decided to finally jump into ceda forums discussions after years of silence and raise the issue?": "You were really with us the entire time?": these comment trouble me greatly. It reflects a belief that anyone who has ever been entrenched in the system can never be trusted or allowed to combat that system if they find it oppressive. If your point is that anyone who benefits from the system (presumably because the system made him/her) cannot be trusted to engage in change, then I feel deeply sad and troubled for the prospect for change in the community. If authenticity is determined by prior engagement with the system alone, then you unnecessarily condemn an entire class of persons to being oppressors who do not want to be a participant in that system. Like it or not, change is about building coalitions, both inside and outside. Believe it or not, people who are privileged and have benefited from privilege do wish to see the system changed. Do these statements take a lot of privilege to make? Of course. Does that fact make it any less a reality? Not even a little bit. Privilege is inherently problematic. No one is saying "because we hold the power, you MUST convince us to change." That is a distortion of what is going on.

Maybe your argument is that a request for dialogue is an example of how the oppressor keeps the oppressed down. Even if that is true in general, how is that true of this specific case? Does that mean anytime someone who considers themselves to be a "traditional policy" debater avails themselves to a "nontraditional" debate, they're really just trying to coopt the discussion?

I want to stress the following: people who seek change in a system (not just talk, but actual change), should consider what means are most likely to contribute to that change. My post is NOT a judgment that dialogue is the only way it can be achieved. Neither was Seungwon's. Instead, it is an expression that it is one effective way such change can begin. With that belief, it is an expression of dismay at the state of the current dialogue (as expressed by Seungwon's specific experience) as close-minded on BOTH ends. The result was a post by Seungwon expressing a desire for more open and two-way dialogue.

As a note, I understand that Seungwon has also slipped into personal attacks. To avoid mischaracterization of my statements, I'll say right now, I am not saying it is okay for one side to make personal attacks (Seungwon), but not for the other side (Rashad). I'm saying everyone should keep those out of the discussion. Discuss the actual issues.


As a quick aside to Stephen:
1. I see your rational for the disengagement, and backchannels should have been pursued. I'm not using your comments here to blast either you or your team (I wasn't there), but rather to advance what I think is the actual point of Seungwon's post, which the idea of two-dialogue in general.
2. Seungwon thinks realism inevitable answers Chaloupka and any Derrida deconstruction K, Foucault is probably just as foreign to him.


Doowon Chung
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chunsr5
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« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2012, 03:09:38 PM »

I'd like to make a quick clarification.

My post was not meant to be a personal attack against Stephen, his debaters, or his program. I understand how it can be taken. It was meant to start a conversation about a problem that I think exists in the debate community. I hope that the conversation will continue to evolve; as I believe it has, at the very least between Stephen and myself. I respect Stephen for handling the post the way he did; I know that different people might have acted and responded differently.

I'm glad that the dialogue has led me to understand different perspectives. I believe, as discussions with Stephen has shown, that this was not an act of pure dogmatism. I am relieved. I leave this conversation feeling quite optimistic. I am willing to say mea culpa on the misunderstanding between Stephen and I. But, it has led to some external discussions outside of this incident that do worry me. Hopefully we can all make progress on these issues.

As always, feel free to backchannel me.

Regards,

SC

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SherryHall
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2012, 03:45:12 PM »

I'm coming to this whole discussion late.  Can someone tell me where this began (the name of the post?)  Did this all start with a post by Sarah Spring, or was her post in the middle of a big issue.  It seems that there are several threads going on under different names complicating my effort to understand what everyone is talking about.

Sherry
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V I Keenan
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« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2012, 05:09:09 PM »

I would start with Deven's post from Oct 10, here:  Oct 10. http://www.cedadebate.org/forum/index.php?topic=3951.0, (UNLV)

That leads into the representation in elim conversation.

This leads into the NDTCEDA FB thread where Rashad discusses the tactic (PreHarvard) that sparks Sarah's post (Late in Wake).

I think it's followable from there ....
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koslow
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2012, 06:43:29 PM »

A) Debate is, in many ways, anti-Black.
Therefore:
B) Non-black debaters/coaches/judges gain some measure of unearned racial privilege in debate.

I think everyone agrees with A, and I can imagine situations where A is true but not B, but I think it's reasonable to say B follows from A. B has a few implications for how we should act in these discussions, as well as debate in general (and life).

1) Racially privileged groups are guilty until proven innocent (as Regnier was saying in the other thread). It's not innocent until proven guilty, because we non-blacks are guilty, we are the benefactors of injustice. And it's not neutral, because the conversation begins on unequal terms (neutrality is effectively color-blindness). It's guilty until proven otherwise. We non-blacks have benefited from our skin everywhere else, I think we can take the hit.

2) Dialogue is good, but to say we need two-way dialogue or to criticize both groups equally is ridiculous. Black folks don't have an obligation to meet us in the middle, we have an obligation to go to them. Saying everyone has to meet in the middle or getting offended when we're criticized is tantamount to acting racist and then placing the burden on blacks to educate you to stop being racist. The burden isn't on them to teach you; go read a book and stop acting racist!

3) When black folks are gettin' all uppity, and we don't understand why, we should probably take a second to figure it out, rather than adopting a defensive stance where we try to prove them wrong. Again, we're guilty until proven innocent.

Seungwon (and Sarah and the rest of her defenders): You assume this is a neutral space. It isn't. I expect that's why Rashad responded so combatively to your post. Once again because it bears repeating: You are guilty until proven innocent.

(I really just posted to use that line about Rashad getting uppity, you can disregard the rest of what I said.)
« Last Edit: November 15, 2012, 07:09:10 PM by koslow » Logged
SCOTUS
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« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2012, 06:49:47 PM »

Rashad's reply here

http://www.rwesq.com/identity-in-crisis/

I stopped at this line from Rashad: "I am not dogmatic.  You are dogmatic.  Your dogmatism prevents from realizing this."

Pot, Kettle...
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SCOTUS
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« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2012, 09:08:45 PM »

A) Debate is, in many ways, anti-Black.

I don't see this.

I am requesting - with an explicit qualification that I have no ill intent, I just want to understand - you to explain why you believe this is true.
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joe
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« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2012, 09:39:24 PM »

who is scotus?
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spurlock
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« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2012, 09:41:50 PM »

A) Debate is, in many ways, anti-Black.

I don't see this.

I am requesting - with an explicit qualification that I have no ill intent, I just want to understand - you to explain why you believe this is true.

the existence of this thread and the many others recently may be indication. 
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stephen.mf.davis
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« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2012, 11:29:57 PM »

heres a paired down, glossed over, watered down version of anti blackness 101


i dont quite know why koslow says this-- he could have his own reasons. but the afro-pessimists( spillers, hartman, wilderson, sexton, patterson, vargus, brown)  argue that anti-blackness is the reigning paradigm in the west--they argue that this results from a structural antagonism which is at the heart of civil society-- there are many salient examples of this but a pretty common one is that the conception of freedom that dominates u.s. democratic theory is understood in terms of "being not a slave" which means that in order for freedom to really mean anything, and in turn for the world writ large to maintain  ethical coherence, the production of a slave class is necessary--  this, the afro-pessimists argue, is why the human and the slave are diametrically opposed because in the paradigm of anti-blackness the category of human derives meaning from what it isn't--the slave. in afro-pessimist thought, another word for slave is black.

still with me?

according to afro-pessimism, this world, modernity itself,  has as its condition of possibility the gratuitous( not contingent) violence of trans-atlantic slavery--this event stole from black folks something that they wont possibly get back--a constructed them as sites of social death--the condition of social death is, functionally, not being recognized as fully human by society--lacking an essential humanness,  possessing a different grammar of suffering from the human, and subject to a different, kind of violence. humans are victims of contingent violence, this means that that there is a reason for it--not a good one, or just one but an explanation of some kind. the slave/black/socially dead individual  is victim of  gratuitous violence which means it happens without much cause at all--it needn't any cause. humans(whites and junior partners of civil society)  are exploited in various ways and alienated from their ability to do anything about it, exploitation and alienation are the humans grammar of suffering. The black/slave's grammar of suffering is fungibility and accumulation---in an anti-black world blacks are  things to accumulated ( collected in prisons, on basketball teams, on the right side of the bracket) and are fungible( they can be exchanged one for another--each black is a perfect amalgam for every other black--) this isn't a soley a question of structural position in an unethical world but the condition which makes that world terminally unethical---  the violence of the middle passage stripped the black body of its ability to register ontologically--thier being is a site of lack, of absence, of dereliction--black bodies don't mean what human bodies mean.

this is best understood thru examples-- bouazizi self immolated  and started a revolution. his body carried with it the weight of finitude--the event literally resonated in the consciousness of the arab world--we called this event the arab spring. 3-4 years prior a african born woman in belgium did the same thing  for the same reason to protest her inability to make a business for herself-- her name is maggie mufu and she doesnt even have a wikipedia page-- onlookers had no more empathy for her than they would a dog, they called her mad, and selfish, and mostly just  of didn't give a rats ass. her body didn't elicit empathy because it lacked finitude--it was ontologically void.


so why is debate anti black--the short answer is because the world is, same way debate is capitalist and patriarchal -- the world  is inherently, irredeemably unethical and debate is in that world-- "in the presence of the slave it is unethical to be free"
but debate is specifically anti-black in ways that we often  dont even see-- when a team reads Towson blocks against OU they are demonstrating black fungibility.  when one assumes that any two black kids making K args are a project, or race, or "resistance" team they are illustrating the same thing. diversity quotas are literally the practice of accumulating  of black bodies in a given population. the general invisibility of black folks speaks to something deeper than just people are busy--some voices resonate, some voices are heard, some voices don't. that isnt an accident. the way that black judges are pidgeon holed in certain ways when white men (like me) who have spent 10 years doing silly things with their judging practices keep getting more and more chances to be better--but a black woman is once and for all  made biased by her blackness which comes with all the irrationality that white eyes ascribe to black bodies-- this constant availability as repositories of whatever meaning  master/human want to fill the ontological void of blackness with is an example of what hortense spillers calls "captive flesh" the particular condition of existing for the master--and for whatever purpose the master/human/white deems necessary.   i think that what this illustrates that the danger of anti-blackness is that it is pernicious and quotidian.

im probably gonna hear from someone that i got some part of this wrong--it is a pretty complicated argument.
i know this needs to be unpacked a great deal-- i hope it helps-- its a complex argument but i trust you can read and look stuff up and do some of that unpacking.  if you are interested further and want some light reading on the matter i think i good place to start would be orlando patterson's slavery and social death.  hope it helps in any event.
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SCOTUS
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« Reply #13 on: November 19, 2012, 01:45:03 PM »

heres a paired down, glossed over, watered down version of anti blackness 101

First, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate you taking the time to answer this question in a detailed way. I feel that I have a better grasp on the argument now; I have a few more questions that I would like to ask, if that's alright.

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i dont quite know why koslow says this-- he could have his own reasons. but the afro-pessimists( spillers, hartman, wilderson, sexton, patterson, vargus, brown)  argue that anti-blackness is the reigning paradigm in the west--they argue that this results from a structural antagonism which is at the heart of civil society-- there are many salient examples of this but a pretty common one is that the conception of freedom that dominates u.s. democratic theory is understood in terms of "being not a slave" which means that in order for freedom to really mean anything, and in turn for the world writ large to maintain  ethical coherence, the production of a slave class is necessary--  this, the afro-pessimists argue, is why the human and the slave are diametrically opposed because in the paradigm of anti-blackness the category of human derives meaning from what it isn't--the slave. in afro-pessimist thought, another word for slave is black.

A few questions;

1) Are there conceptions of freedom that do not rely on "slavery" as the constitutive other? Freedom from tyranny or oppression?

2) Are all types of slavery the same? I know a lot of Marxists discuss "slavery" in terms of "wage slavery", which is different in meaningful ways than the term as used by Wilderson. If "freedom" is defined as being free from "wage slavery", where does blackness come in?

3) Is the freedom-against-slavery narrative reliant on a slave class in the present? My first impression when reading that paragraph was that freedom in the present is contrasted against "where we came from / how far we've come". If freedom's constitutive other can be historical instead of modern, then why is a slave class necessary now?

4) Are all blacks part of the "slave class"?

5) How do other-color-bodies play into this narrative? Arab (brown)? Native American (red, according to Wilderson)? Light(er) skinned persons who can "pass" as white but are "black" by heritage / culture? Asian bodies?

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still with me? 

Basically, yes Smiley

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according to afro-pessimism, this world, modernity itself,  has as its condition of possibility the gratuitous( not contingent) violence of trans-atlantic slavery--this event stole from black folks something that they wont possibly get back--a constructed them as sites of social death--the condition of social death is, functionally, not being recognized as fully human by society--lacking an essential humanness,  possessing a different grammar of suffering from the human, and subject to a different, kind of violence.
Ok, so far so good.

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humans are victims of contingent violence, this means that that there is a reason for it--not a good one, or just one but an explanation of some kind. the slave/black/socially dead individual  is victim of  gratuitous violence which means it happens without much cause at all--it needn't any cause.

Could you give me an example that illustrates this, please?

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humans(whites and junior partners of civil society)  are exploited in various ways and alienated from their ability to do anything about it, exploitation and alienation are the humans grammar of suffering. The black/slave's grammar of suffering is fungibility and accumulation---in an anti-black world blacks are  things to accumulated ( collected in prisons, on basketball teams, on the right side of the bracket) and are fungible( they can be exchanged one for another--each black is a perfect amalgam for every other black--)

Is this fungibility and accumulation unique to blacks? Does it happen to all blacks? In this context, what does it mean for a black person to "act white"? Does that restore to them some semblance of social signification?

I ask because I can see accumulation/fungibility along class lines more saliently than I see them along racial lines. Especially fungibility; workers (regardless of color) are hot-swappable for each other, and are perfect representations for every other worker. Poor people are accumulated (in shanty towns, factory floors, bars) in the same way.

Why should we read the situation as striated by race, instead of some other explanation? Not all blacks are "accumulated" for basketball teams; just athletic ones - but so are athletic whites. Not all blacks are "accumulated" in prisons; just poor ones - but so are poor whites. See what I mean?

How does this argument account for black nationalist movements; movements which existed within civil society (like the Black Panthers) that gave social signification to black bodies as black bodies?

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this isn't a soley a question of structural position in an unethical world but the condition which makes that world terminally unethical---  the violence of the middle passage stripped the black body of its ability to register ontologically--thier being is a site of lack, of absence, of dereliction--black bodies don't mean what human bodies mean. 

If the Middle Passage can reach out of history to constitute the present, why can't THAT be the constitutive other discussed in the first paragraph?

Not all black bodies underwent the middle passage during that time period; and no modern black bodies undergo the middle passage. Why/how does the middle passage continue to exert influence?

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this is best understood thru examples-- bouazizi self immolated  and started a revolution. his body carried with it the weight of finitude--the event literally resonated in the consciousness of the arab world--we called this event the arab spring. 3-4 years prior a african born woman in belgium did the same thing  for the same reason to protest her inability to make a business for herself-- her name is maggie mufu and she doesnt even have a wikipedia page-- onlookers had no more empathy for her than they would a dog, they called her mad, and selfish, and mostly just  of didn't give a rats ass. her body didn't elicit empathy because it lacked finitude--it was ontologically void. 

I see. Was her ontological voidness due to her blackness, though?

There are many, many people who self-immolate and do nothing. Non-black Tibetans self-immolate all the time and people/the West are apathetic. In fact, in Algeria there were about 14 self-immolations prior to Bouazizi - and none of those started a revolution. Why should we believe that people "didn't give a rats ass" because she was black? Isn't it possible that they were just shitty human beings (equal opportunity misanthropes?)

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so why is debate anti black--the short answer is because the world is, same way debate is capitalist and patriarchal -- the world  is inherently, irredeemably unethical and debate is in that world-- "in the presence of the slave it is unethical to be free"


Could you explain the last sentence? I don't understand.

Are all microcosms of society anti-black? Were the black panthers anti-black?

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but debate is specifically anti-black in ways that we often  dont even see-- when a team reads Towson blocks against OU they are demonstrating black fungibility.  when one assumes that any two black kids making K args are a project, or race, or "resistance" team they are illustrating the same thing.


Wow, really profound point.

I'd like to discuss this further; how often do you think "two black kids making K args" get essentialized as the same as Towson/Lville? For example, if two black kids were like "five off and case" and started reading baudrillard and bataille, I don't think most people would assume it was about race.

I know that certain squads and schools tend to make arguments along certain strata (Towson discusses race; Northwestern discusses framework). But those predictions don't seem racially driven, they seem to be driven by reptuation; I wouldn't think K teams who double prepped their framework answers before hitting Northwestern were being discriminatory.

How much of the disconnect between K args (ie, reading Towson answers to OU) is the result of misunderstanding? I know a lot of people that read "util good and realism" as the response to every K, regardless of whether or not it's responsive. Are those kritiks being treated "fungibly"?

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diversity quotas are literally the practice of accumulating  of black bodies in a given population.

Is this true even when black bodies specifically request diversity quotas? I followed the MJP discussion in the other thread and saw people talking about Affirmative Action MJP. If a black person (or black people) specifically requested that system, and it was implemented on the basis of that request, is such a system anti-black? In other words, can a system by blacks for blacks be anti-black? If so, what does it mean to be "anti-black"?

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the general invisibility of black folks speaks to something deeper than just people are busy--some voices resonate, some voices are heard, some voices don't. that isnt an accident.

Again, profound. This is certainly my ignorance with the common practices of debate, but how often does this occur? Where and by whom, and why don't they get called out? Most teams seem comfortable calling out racism where they see it (see: discussion about the hotel with plantation style architecture a while back).

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the way that black judges are pidgeon holed in certain ways when white men (like me) who have spent 10 years doing silly things with their judging practices keep getting more and more chances to be better--but a black woman is once and for all  made biased by her blackness which comes with all the irrationality that white eyes ascribe to black bodies

Does this actually happen? I don't have the experience in debate to say/see. Again, why don't people call it out like they call other racialized issues out?

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im probably gonna hear from someone that i got some part of this wrong--it is a pretty complicated argument.
i know this needs to be unpacked a great deal-- i hope it helps-- its a complex argument but i trust you can read and look stuff up and do some of that unpacking.  if you are interested further and want some light reading on the matter i think i good place to start would be orlando patterson's slavery and social death.  hope it helps in any event.

It definitely does. Thank you very, very much for your explanation and I definitely will pick up a copy of Patterson. I googled for Wilderson after hitting it, and could only find one chapter of Red White and Black online. I'll see if Patterson is there. Thanks again Smiley
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mcmc
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« Reply #14 on: November 19, 2012, 01:54:27 PM »



1) Are there conceptions of freedom that do not rely on "slavery" as the constitutive other? Freedom from tyranny or oppression?

2) Are all types of slavery the same? I know a lot of Marxists discuss "slavery" in terms of "wage slavery", which is different in meaningful ways than the term as used by Wilderson. If "freedom" is defined as being free from "wage slavery", where does blackness come in?

3) Is the freedom-against-slavery narrative reliant on a slave class in the present? My first impression when reading that paragraph was that freedom in the present is contrasted against "where we came from / how far we've come". If freedom's constitutive other can be historical instead of modern, then why is a slave class necessary now?

4) Are all blacks part of the "slave class"?

5) How do other-color-bodies play into this narrative? Arab (brown)? Native American (red, according to Wilderson)? Light(er) skinned persons who can "pass" as white but are "black" by heritage / culture? Asian bodies?

I dunno if you want Stephen's answer or Wilderson's, but Wilderson's answer to most of these questions can be found in
Frank B. Wilderson III, "Gramsci's Black Marx: Whither the Slave in Civil Society?" Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture Volume 9, Issue 2, 2003, http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/1350463032000101579#preview
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