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Blackness Feminism Aff?

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My partner and I want to run a CNDI performance aff advocating metaphysical exploration of the oceans through learning about African slave women who died on the Middle Passage on the way to America. We would add more poetry, a racism/sexism impact, and a genocide impact to this aff. Although my partner and I represent many minorities, neither of us has any African heritage. What potential problems could we run into?

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Speaking for others, commodification, and I wouldn't even consider running this against a black student lest the judge consider dropping you after the 1AC (if I judged that kind of round, I'd certainly be leaning that way). I'd probably give a 30 to a 1N who incorporated "Holiday in Cambodia" in their 1NC.

 

I'm betting that there's a better performance Aff to be drawn from a minority you actually might claim to represent.

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What's the reason you want to run this aff?

my partner and I are both passionate about issues like racism and sexism, so we feel like it's something we could argue well. we have also been looking for a good performance aff to run, and we both like this one.

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My partner and I want to run a CNDI performance aff advocating metaphysical exploration of the oceans through learning about African slave women who died on the Middle Passage on the way to America. We would add more poetry, a racism/sexism impact, and a genocide impact to this aff. Although my partner and I represent many minorities, neither of us has any African heritage. What potential problems could we run into?

 

I don't think you'll encounter any absolutely killer arguments against this just because of your identities and backgrounds. Edgehopper is right that you should definitely block out the relevant arguments like Speaking For Others and arguments like "you commodify suffering," but these are hardly K slayers. You may want to be careful about any part of your poetry, music etc. that involves you using the first-person or placing yourself in the position of the black womin you discuss, though - be sure not to appropriate in a way that could be construed as negative or in bad faith or something. If you had evidence about like, assuming an empathic lens (that empathizing with the struggles of another is a good thing for coalition-building, activism, fighting oppressions etc.) that would be really helpful in this case.

 

The only ways that your identity, heritage, background and the like will come up as link arguments are for really, really radical kritiks about colonialism, race, gender, orientation, and the like - and the theories of identity that undergird those types of kritiks will likely be very, very essentialist, meaning you can get some considerable disads against their alternatives (or their theory of gender/race/orientation/etc).

 

As a white guy that read an afro-pessimism aff with reasonable success for part of the year (and an anti-black racism one all year), you might want to check out Tamara Nopper's article "The White Anti-Racist Is An Oxymoron," because that was a decent and common-ish response to my partner and I's aff. If one of you and your partner isn't white, though, it'd be dead on arrival in any 1NC against you two.

 

The Dead Kennedys' "Holiday in Cambodia" is...really, really irrelevant, probably...it's about the violence of the Khmer Rouge and totalitarian-communist regimes, and kind of also about naive liberal idealism? Not really much to do with the Middle Passage or anti-black, anti-feminine racism and gender subordination.

 

my partner and I are both passionate about issues like racism and sexism, so we feel like it's something we could argue well. we have also been looking for a good performance aff to run, and we both like this one.

 

I definitely think you should go for it. If it's something you believe in strongly, and something you can passionately and strongly advocate for (in a personal sense as well as in the strategic sense of winning debate competitions), then it's definitely worth your while to learn about and argue for. Be sure to consult coaches, lab leaders, and other debate veterans to help you integrate your new stuff into the aff, and to make a better K aff in general; it's pretty tricky to make good ones, but a lot of current college debaters have a lot of experience running and hitting them, so they'll be a great resource for you! Best of luck with it!

 

Oh - and running an aff like that in front of black debaters isn't a problem. There's no reason that the identity of your opponent would change the truth-value of the 1AC, and it would be just dumb to assume that your advocacy is less meaningful because you are reading to someone who might identify with the problems you're discussing. Any judge that drops you for your aff wouldn't have liked it anyway, and if they drop you on an argument that wasn't in the round, it was a crap-shoot anyway. Tbh running K affs in front of judges that aren't explicitly okay with them is usually a crap-shoot...but usually it's worth it.

Edited by dancon25
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my partner and I are both passionate about issues like racism and sexism, so we feel like it's something we could argue well. we have also been looking for a good performance aff to run, and we both like this one.

 

Authenticity...it's not the reason that matters, I'd make an argument like "the fact that a nonblack team could stand up and perform black subjugation for 9 minutes proves the deceptive nature of their advocacy. It's not an authentic act of revolution and therefore entrenches antiblackness."

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Authenticity...it's not the reason that matters, I'd make an argument like "the fact that a nonblack team could stand up and perform black subjugation for 9 minutes proves the deceptive nature of their advocacy. It's not an authentic act of revolution and therefore entrenches antiblackness."

 

Arguments like these are things you've got to really interrogate yourself while you're writing this aff - the best way to beat them is to never let them link. Don't do an aff in such a way that lets the other team spin it as "non-blacks 'performing black subjugation' for 8 minutes" - be able to no-link + link-turn out of reconceptualizations of your aff that every single more-radical K is going to try to spin in the negative block and 2NR. This is why it's super, super important to be hyper-vigilant and very careful about what you actually do in the 1AC.

 

To ask about that particular argument, though (and I ask bc Idk if this is something you actually agree with or if it's an argument you read or what - just out of curiosity):

Is the fact that anyone can discuss anti-black violence or at least be able to describe it a reason that anti-racism should be foregone? At best that's a case argument and voting for the squo is probably worse than voting for the aff, at worst any K alt you'd have would need a ton of work on why you don't also link (unless you're advocating bridge-burning instead of bridge-building, which itself is probably a no-go unless you yourself are a black afro-pessimism team). I might just be biased in that assessment though since I've felt less and less favorable towards separatism types of critiques and alternatives lately, though.

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Authenticity...it's not the reason that matters, I'd make an argument like "the fact that a nonblack team could stand up and perform black subjugation for 9 minutes proves the deceptive nature of their advocacy. It's not an authentic act of revolution and therefore entrenches antiblackness."

 

Isn't this what Oklahoma CL was doing with their AFF this year?

 

That is to say, they were criticizing teams that would run a "deceptive" advocacy, not an "authentic act of revolution"

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine

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The only ways that your identity, heritage, background and the like will come up as link arguments are for really, really radical kritiks about colonialism, race, gender, orientation, and the like - and the theories of identity that undergird those types of kritiks will likely be very, very essentialist, meaning you can get some considerable disads against their alternatives (or their theory of gender/race/orientation/etc).

 

As a white guy that read an afro-pessimism aff with reasonable success for part of the year (and an anti-black racism one all year), you might want to check out Tamara Nopper's article "The White Anti-Racist Is An Oxymoron," because that was a decent and common-ish response to my partner and I's aff. If one of you and your partner isn't white, though, it'd be dead on arrival in any 1NC against you two.

Not the argument I was thinking of--I was looking at the Aff's race against a black team to ramp up the commodification argument. "I'm sorry, are you trying to gain a ballot by using the suffering of people you have no connection with against people whose ancestors actually suffered from those atrocities?" Followed quickly by "Perm: End the round, vote Neg, and let's discuss the African slave trade." I know what my reaction would be to a team of non-Jews that ran a Holocaust education performance Aff against me...

 

The Dead Kennedys' "Holiday in Cambodia" is...really, really irrelevant, probably...it's about the violence of the Khmer Rouge and totalitarian-communist regimes, and kind of also about naive liberal idealism? Not really much to do with the Middle Passage or anti-black, anti-feminine racism and gender subordination.

So you've been to school for a year or two

and you think you've seen it all.

In Daddy's car, thinking you'll go far, back East your type won't crawl.

Play ethnicky jazz to parade your snazz

on your five grand stereo.

Bragging how you know how the brothers feel cold,

and the slums got so much soul. . . .

 

* * *

 

You're a star-bellied sneetch

you suck-a like a leech.

You want everyone to act like you.

Kiss ass while you bitch

so you can get rich

but your boss gets richer off you.

 

--

 

It's all about naive liberal idealism, speaking for others, and inauthentic benefitting from suffering of the less privileged. It even includes a line about appropriating black music!

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how the brothers feel cold,

 

Creative license, I see ;) Although I disagree with the message the song (and their choice of language throughout), it's a fun one to play. Definitely about naivete but I think it's more about naive elitism (as well as assimilationism - hence the desire for "everyone to act like you") than empathy being a bad thing (or the metaphysics of anti-blackness, which is even more so what the aff seems to be about) - that's really the only reason I don't think it'd be super responsive as an argument. Agreed on the appropriating black music part though, I forgot about that line!

 

On your clarification above, though - I don't want to be presumptive about OP and their partner, so really this is a call for them to make. I just don't think that it's bad for people to argue for justice that has to do with struggles that might not be their own - and depending on OP & their partner's race, gender, orientation, and the like, they might actually have a connection to the violences of Middle Passage, white supremacy, hetero-patriarchal gender subordination and the like that they either haven't read much about or just haven't made note of.

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Mildly relevant to the discussion at hand

"We will always be failures at playing African or Indian, even Chinese, and no voyage to the South Seas, however arduous, will allow us to cross the wall, get out of the hole, or lose our face...We will always find ourselves reterritorialized again...the facial machine are impasses, the measure of our submissions and subjections; but we are born into them, and it is there we must stand battle." (A Thousand Plateaus, pages 188 and 189)

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I think this might be one of the few times where I (partially) disagree with Dancon25, and this may be because my national circuit tends to be radically different than a lot of y'alls, which has made me into a bit of a cynic regarding white liberalism/liberal feel-good politics. 

 

If you don't mind me asking, what minorities do you and your partner represent-- I'm curious if there is any reason you chose to go with an advocacy pertaining to a group you don't represent.

 

Personally, having read a critical affirmative all last year and debating in a very critical (and race-heavy) circuit, I think there are far more strategic ways to frame your affirmative. 

 - When you say "metaphysical exploration of the oceans through learning about African slave women"- I'm unsure how you're exactly claiming solvency... Through "teaching" people about African slave women? What exactly is your "metaphysical exploration" actually discovering and why do y'all have to be the ones who do it? In the past, I read a critical affirmative based on spreading knowledge, but quickly realized that wasn't a viable method, when (in a round where I was the only white male and my partner and I were the only whites [vs ACORN]), the negative team centered their case arguments around the fact that everyone in this room probably knew about the problems surrounding racism/colonialism/etc, and thus "spreading knowledge" didn't really function in that round. There are also plenty of extremely effective and nuanced critiques of this whole idea of exchanging "learning" or "knowledge" for the ballot- like "oh! I taught you about racism, now we win!" seems a bit problematic.

- I think you can engage in a discussion of racism and sexism without your focus on Black women-- something about trading in learning about a specific type of body for the ballot seems problematic- a focus on structures rather than on particular types of bodies might be better, IMO.

I don't think you'll encounter any absolutely killer arguments against this just because of your identities and backgrounds. Edgehopper is right that you should definitely block out the relevant arguments like Speaking For Others and arguments like "you commodify suffering," but these are hardly K slayers. You may want to be careful about any part of your poetry, music etc. that involves you using the first-person or placing yourself in the position of the black womin you discuss, though - be sure not to appropriate in a way that could be construed as negative or in bad faith or something. If you had evidence about like, assuming an empathic lens (that empathizing with the struggles of another is a good thing for coalition-building, activism, fighting oppressions etc.) that would be really helpful in this case.

Mostly agreed- but I think that the way you're framing your affirmative, those "killer" arguments (like commodification and speaking for others) might be just a bit more killer than they would be if  you framed it in other ways. I would definitely have some acknowledgement of the fact that you're privileged in the 1AC and also a defense of coalitionist politics (I had a ton of pre-empts/defenses of this in my 1AC, but these arguments were more common than framework was in my circuit so it all depends). 

 

The only ways that your identity, heritage, background and the like will come up as link arguments are for really, really radical kritiks about colonialism, race, gender, orientation, and the like - and the theories of identity that undergird those types of kritiks will likely be very, very essentialist, meaning you can get some considerable disads against their alternatives (or their theory of gender/race/orientation/etc).

Yeah, depending on where you are, these super-radical critiques may be common or not, but you still need to be prepared for them. In my circuit, I only had one framework debate all year, and most every other round was these radical critiques, but if you're somewhere else it may be different (idk how it goes in texas or whatever). You can definitely attack the essentialist nature of some of these critiques, assuming your own lit base isn't super essentialist as well (ie. afropess, maybe redped). Where I am, teams have innovated beyond that, so not so much - in many rounds Moten has superseded Wilderson.

 

As a white guy that read an afro-pessimism aff with reasonable success for part of the year (and an anti-black racism one all year), you might want to check out Tamara Nopper's article "The White Anti-Racist Is An Oxymoron," because that was a decent and common-ish response to my partner and I's aff. If one of you and your partner isn't white, though, it'd be dead on arrival in any 1NC against you two.

I'm curious what your response to that article is... I tend to just cross-apply my coalitionist evidence, but do you have any specific response?

 

Oh- and running an aff like that in front of black debaters isn't a problem. There's no reason that the identity of your opponent would change the truth-value of the 1AC, and it would be just dumb to assume that your advocacy is less meaningful because you are reading to someone who might identify with the problems you're discussing. Any judge that drops you for your aff wouldn't have liked it anyway, and if they drop you on an argument that wasn't in the round, it was a crap-shoot anyway. Tbh running K affs in front of judges that aren't explicitly okay with them is usually a crap-shoot...but usually it's worth it.

I disagree somewhat with this. Obviously, it would be ridiculous for a judge to drop you for reading an affirmative such as that, but a critical aff does function differently depending on the round, unlike traditional policy affirmatives, one can't simply judge it in a "vacuum", because its solvency is somewhat predicated off of the actions of those in the room. For example, see the round I mentioned above against ACORN-- my affirmative functioned differently in that round because of who my opponents and judges were.

Certainly, I think reading race based arguments at the detriment of teams who are actually hurt by the structures you criticize is definitely problematic (you can see Ganondorf's post here for more about that) and may hurt your ethos/viability of your argument. In one of the few rounds I've seen in my circuit where a white team was reading a critical anti-racist affirmative against a black team, the round essentially went, "nice try guys, we'll take it from here" and the Affirmative lost (obviously I'm not going into the depth of the critical arguments read on both sides, but that might be an accurate description of the thesis).

 

Anyways I'm rambling, and I think the basic premise is okay, but there are some problems I'd seek to remedy.

 

Edit: Here's one Moten based coalition card recommended to me by Korey Johnson

 

Put a tag here

Halberstam 13 (Jack Halberstam, Jack Halberstam is Professor of American Studies and Ethnicity Gender Studies and Comparative Literature at USC.  “Undercommons”:“The Wild Beyond: With and For Undercommons”, 2013) (from Moten’s book)//Miro (edited for gendered language)

The mission then for the denizens of the undercommons is to recognize that when you seek to make things better, you are not just doing it for the Other, you must also be doing it for yourself. While men may think they are being “sensitive” by turning to feminism, while white people may think they are being right on by opposing racism, no one will really be able to embrace the mission of tearing “this shit down” until they realize that the structures they oppose are not only bad for some of us, they are bad for all of us. Gender hierarchies are bad for men as well as women and they are really bad for the rest of us. Racial hierarchies are not rational and ordered, they are chaotic and nonsensical and must be opposed by precisely all those who benefit in any way from them. Or, as Moten puts it: “The coalition emerges out of your recognition that it’s fucked up for you, in the same way that we’ve already recognized that it’s fucked up for us. I don’t need your help. I just need you to recognize that this shit is killing you, too, however much more softly, you stupid motherfucker, you know?” The coalition unites us in the recognition that we must change things or die. All of us. We must all change the things that are fucked up and change cannot come in the form that we think of as “revolutionary” – not as a masculinist surge or an armed confrontation. Revolution will come in a form we cannot yet imagine. Moten and Harney propose that we prepare now for what will come by entering into study. Study, a mode of thinking with others separate from the thinking that the institution requires of you, prepares us to be embedded in what Harney calls “the with and for” and allows you to spend less time antagonized and antagonizing.
 

Edited by Miro
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Yeah, actually I agree with all of that! The aff could use some more nuance (or maybe just more explaining - can't really fault OP for not explaining the crap out of the 1AC for us, really), you should really think hard about what your mechanism for solving (or what you advocate) should be, the 1AC needs to be very much tailored so that it avoids as much critical offense as possible (like SFO, suffering commodification, etc), and you should prepare for anything that comes your way! It sounds like coalition-building would be a good 1AC argument to have, and Halberstam card is a pretty good start.

 

Texas is pretty critical, though we have all sorts of schools do all sorts of things - "high-theory" Ks, race debate, and politics DAs are about as common as each other, really. It's kind of a grab bag whenever you have a good judge, because everyone wants to run what they most enjoy - and usually you have pretty good judges, at least in Houston for sure. I imagine that Austin & Dallas definitely have good regional circuits as well. I didn't realize DC was so radical though, that's pretty cool!

 

A2 Nopper was something like: coalitions good, bridge-burning bad, and pragmatic revolutionary politics are better than nothing. Like, you know that Isaac (I think it's Isaac) card that policy debaters read as offense against rejection K alts that's like,"moral puritanism is bad, even if we're a little bit ethically problematic we should try to save people's lives?" I'd make similar arguments but in a more radical setting - like, spurning all whites that are sympathetic to your movement is a pretty bad revolutionary strategy if you want whiteness to be challenged, racist structures to be replaced, and anti-blackness to not be emboldened by resentful whites that wanted to lend a hand to the movement - that sort of thing. It's kind of funny considering we read Wilderson cards and in a sense were like "hey, that's a little too pessimistic;" I guess that's what you get for not thinking things through enough haha.

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Texas is pretty critical, though we have all sorts of schools do all sorts of things - "high-theory" Ks, race debate, and politics DAs are about as common as each other, really. It's kind of a grab bag whenever you have a good judge, because everyone wants to run what they most enjoy - and usually you have pretty good judges, at least in Houston for sure. I imagine that Austin & Dallas definitely have good regional circuits as well. I didn't realize DC was so radical though, that's pretty cool!

Actually, DC doesn't really have much debate at all-- there are only two schools (mine included) that do policy and the other one has vastly more funding than we do so we only see them at national tournaments. The only tournament in DC is Georgetown, and that tends to draw on people from far away, so there is a much larger diversity in arguments. 

In the south (Virginia, where we debate locally), debate is growing and high-theory critiques as well as policy policy arguments are common.

However, in the north (where our national circuit is), I'd say that race-based arguments (and other low-theory critical arguments) are far in the way the most common and high-theory is pretty rare. However, this might just be based on my experience in that circuit. 

 

A2 Nopper was something like: coalitions good, bridge-burning bad, and pragmatic revolutionary politics are better than nothing. Like, you know that Isaac (I think it's Isaac) card that policy debaters read as offense against rejection K alts that's like,"moral puritanism is bad, even if we're a little bit ethically problematic we should try to save people's lives?" I'd make similar arguments but in a more radical setting - like, spurning all whites that are sympathetic to your movement is a pretty bad revolutionary strategy if you want whiteness to be challenged, racist structures to be replaced, and anti-blackness to not be emboldened by resentful whites that wanted to lend a hand to the movement - that sort of thing. It's kind of funny considering we read Wilderson cards and in a sense were like "hey, that's a little too pessimistic;" I guess that's what you get for not thinking things through enough haha.

I lost to a team reading Nopper, and their articulation was not that white people can't be part of the movement, more that they can join, but black people (and others suffering from these structures) are the ones who "tell you where to point the gun and shoot" (as per nopper's article)-- ie. whites can join the movement, but they can't be the ones formulating praxis. This seems to have at least somewhat of an embedded answer to some of the arguments you're making-- what do you think would be a more effective response?

Edited by Miro
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A2 Nopper was something like: coalitions good, bridge-burning bad, and pragmatic revolutionary politics are better than nothing. Like, you know that Isaac (I think it's Isaac) card that policy debaters read as offense against rejection K alts that's like,"moral puritanism is bad, even if we're a little bit ethically problematic we should try to save people's lives?"

Lol the Isaac card. (that normativity conversation though)

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btw  what minority group do u represent - pm me - if u want lit - btw the biggest issue u can hit are Do the aff minus the debaters - net benefit - dont represent a group u arent apart of - like so many net benefits

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btw  what minority group do u represent - pm me - if u want lit - btw the biggest issue u can hit are Do the aff minus the debaters - net benefit - dont represent a group u arent apart of - like so many net benefits

Uh-- I wouldn't say "Do the aff minus the debaters" is exactly how it would be framed. It's probably true that a one sentence PIC doesn't capture the entirety of the Affirmative's performance...

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my partner and I are both passionate about issues like racism and sexism, so we feel like it's something we could argue well. we have also been looking for a good performance aff to run, and we both like this one.

I've always found that a team running a advocacy like antiblackness that isn't actually represented by the critique is directly linking into "subjugating the *insert group here* to win the ballot". If you're actually passionate about the issue, and I'm saying this in a non-debate perspective, maybe a round wouldn't be the right place to go about this? 

 

Idk, I've always had moralistic issues with people claiming they're passionate about an issue but still want the ballot.

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I lost to a team reading Nopper, and their articulation was not that white people can't be part of the movement, more that they can join, but black people (and others suffering from these structures) are the ones who "tell you where to point the gun and shoot" (as per nopper's article)-- ie. whites can join the movement, but they can't be the ones formulating praxis. This seems to have at least somewhat of an embedded answer to some of the arguments you're making-- what do you think would be a more effective response?

Personally I feel like generic 'Exclusion bad' cards would be responsive.

 

However, I've heard of a fairly new author who recently put out a book saying essentially, that 'The new love for anti-rascism has been and always will be appropriated by the white, heterosexual, male, so we must radically deny the current forms of resistance in favor of a much more exclusionary form or revolution. '

That might provide a bit of a problem to basic 'exclusion bad' arguments though.

 

However, I have seen people turn exclusion that the new anti-white movement is appropriating the anti-rascism movement, which is the newest form of rascism

Edited by EndlessFacepalm

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