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Was The Rutgers Strategy Justified? (NDT Finals 2016-2017)

  

126 members have voted

  1. 1. In your opinion, was what Rutgers did an effective strategy of liberation?

    • Yes
      37
    • No
      54
    • Maybe / I can't determine that / other
      35
  2. 2. In your opinion, was what Rutgers did justified, or ethically correct?

    • Yes
      32
    • No
      76
    • Maybe / I can't determine that / other
      18
  3. 3. Assuming you watched, who do you think deserved to win the round?

    • Rutgers
      50
    • GTown
      60
    • I did not watch
      16


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Right now, I'm having a very hard time buying the "white people should be made to feel uncomfortable in debate because black people are made to feel uncomfortable" argument.

 

The more I think about this issue, the more I've come to realize that there are serious disconnects in my understanding of it. So I'd like to posit a couple questions. People are free to answer them or not answer them. I'm simply interested in listening and learning, not demanding information and explanations.

 

How are black people made to feel uncomfortable in debate? (not performance teams, black people writ large.)

Why is traditional policy debate inaccessible to black people, or, less accessible to them than to white people? (please don't tell me research, camp fees, coaching, etc. These things are required to be a successful k debater as well)

 

If framework arguments and traditional policy tactics (nondisclosure for new affs, k preempts in the 1ac, etc) are so violent, maybe that's evidence for some fundamental incompatibility between competitive spaces and survival strategies? I'm having trouble seeing how the debate community could respond to performance teams in a way that wouldn't be violent under that lens.

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Hi there, so I wanted to respond to a couple of the points that you made. You said that having a nice K v. policy round won't make debate safer... Ok then what will. This debate certainly did not. The Roast quickly devolved and  (1) the "making white people uncomfortable" argument is not new and is a testament to the fact that it is still not working.

(2) Also you said normative debate is pretty anti-black. Rather than take this as a given I would like to ask how? I have thought this over considerably and would like to hear your reasoning. It seems to me that regardless of who invented policy debate, discussions of the whether the govermnet ought to do something are not inherently anti black in the same way that soccer is not inherently anti black because a person in england created it. What specific practices are anti black in policy debate?  

(3) You also said that Rutgers was being excluded by the very fact of being black in debate but once again I'm going to press you on specifics. How is debate different than any other place with lots of white guys. why is debate uniquely exclusive and how does excluding traditional policy debate, which is separate from person to person interatctions, change any of the that. (4) You see the neg falls into the very same trap which so many liberation affs set for policy teams. A policy can not fix everything. (5) Excluding one form of debate won't change the way people of color are viewed. that is an issue separate to argumentative styles.

 (6) You said there was violence against the black debate community. If so that is terrible but why should that involve this round.  (7) Making the argument of fairness for whom because i have a structural inequality is like saying that a sprinter shouldn't have to start at the same line as everyone else because they have suffered in their life.n No athlete would want that, including the sprinter, for it destroys the purpose of a competition, game, or activity, and does not allow us to do our best to achieve things, hardship is not a reason to win a game and the ballot only has meaning because you worked for it, just winning a sports competition only has value because you worked for it. Also, where is this violence?  (8) I am sure violence exists but you can't just say something is true and applies to the entirety of a group.

(9) Finally you say that georgetown gets to keep their whiteness intact. So what? They were white before during and after the debate round. You said they don't run the risk of their arguments losing crediblity! Did you not just watch the debate round! It was about their arguments losing credibility...

Finally I agree that police brutality is terrible but how is that at all something "important to note." (10)I don't think that the ballot should be given out according to whether police brutality is a thing... What's the point of winning a debate if you win it for reasons outside of your control, let alone winning because the police commit murder.

 

 

 

 

A lot of these points were well-addressed by @AtlanticCoast, @baudrillardbabe, and @seanarchy so I won't simply repeat them, but I'll elaborate on some points.

 

1) agree with @AtlanticCoast here; we're talking about it. Seems to be working to me. But aside from that, I think Rutgers' incorporation of black humor, of blackness, into the white-dominated debate space can be (and has been; see McDonogh JN as well as other Rutgers rounds) a highly effective strategy. Again, I don't consider this round to be Rutgers at their best, but it was still a hella good performance even if it crossed the line at times. I have much respect for them, and I think they actively and effectively do much more to fight anti-blackness within the debate space than the grand majority of debaters.

 

2) AtlanticCoast gave fantastic examples, some of them from their own experiences, defer to those. In addition, some people think anti-blackness args (and identity politics as a whole, to an extent) are illegitimate, that debate is the wrong forum, that they are "pulling the race card," or that they are somehow commodifying their own suffering for the ballot-- all arguments usually run in some form of framework and all of which are code for "I didn't come here to talk about the suffering of black people." This is why running framework is a common response to identity Ks: it avoids having to engage substantively with the kritik. Not to say that all framework args are illegitimate, but not wanting to engage because you don't want to is bad.

 

3) Racism is bad. We should fight it. Racism is everywhere. We should still fight it. "Hey, the rest of the world is being oppressive too" doesn't justify perpetuation of oppression in debate.

 

5) kinda confused, but not claiming that excluding a form of debate will change how POC are viewed. I mean I think framework's been commonly used to avoid that conversation, but there is merit in framework debate.

 

9) Exactly what AtlanticCoast and seanarchy said. No one is going to stop running framework. It will always be what debaters default to when they don't know how to answer a K, when they don't want to answer a K, and when they don't want to confront their perpetuation of certain problems. When I say that Georgetown doesn't run the risk of their arguments losing credibility, I am saying that although debaters might recognize that their methods avoid important conversation, debaters will still use those methods because, as Georgetown said, "they want to win." Which, I mean, who doesn't? It's just that, as a result, people are not saying that Georgetown "gives framework debate a bad name" the way people are saying that Rutgers "gives performance debate a bad name" when they are expressing their blackness. This is tied to how Georgetown gets to leave with their whiteness intact-- they get to continue with their white privileged methods of avoiding substantive critiques without their reputation suffering, because it is strategic and the norm. They get to continue with their white privilege.

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This debate centers on the question of comfortability. I think Rutgers is right about white uncomfortability being good, but doesn't achieve it.

 

Have you ever debated an afropessimism or performance team that really makes you feel? Like, when you argue framework, they just make you feel stupid for it in crossx, embarrassed, foolish for even pretending that debate could EVER be a neutral contestation around the topic. That's part of what Wilderson argues, unsettling white folk by implicating their whiteness-- making them feel guilty, unsettled, and uncomfortable BECAUSE of their position of privilege.

 

Rutgers doesn't do that. Rutgers strategy of roasting is just insults that make Georgetown feel bad. Not arguments or even insults that make them feel bad because they are privileged, but just insults. This is not productive, it's just being needlessly mean, and it also in some ways disrespects things black debaters experience.

 

To my understanding, the harassment of black debaters implicates their very ontology -- they feel what they feel because they are black. Rutgers fail because they don't upset the ontology of whiteness, they just make Georgetown as individuals feel like shit.

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9) Exactly what AtlanticCoast and seanarchy said. No one is going to stop running framework. It will always be what debaters default to when they don't know how to answer a K, when they don't want to answer a K, and when they don't want to confront their perpetuation of certain problems. When I say that Georgetown doesn't run the risk of their arguments losing credibility, I am saying that although debaters might recognize that their methods avoid important conversation, debaters will still use those methods because, as Georgetown said, "they want to win." Which, I mean, who doesn't? It's just that, as a result, people are not saying that Georgetown "gives framework debate a bad name" the way people are saying that Rutgers "gives performance debate a bad name" when they are expressing their blackness. This is tied to how Georgetown gets to leave with their whiteness intact-- they get to continue with their white privileged methods of avoiding substantive critiques without their reputation suffering, because it is strategic and the norm. They get to continue with their white privilege.

 

For clarification, are you talking about framework read in response to a K or framework read in response to a K/Performance Aff? 

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For clarification, are you talking about framework read in response to a K or framework read in response to a K/Performance Aff? 

 

Broadly speaking, anything classified as identity politics (which is vague, I know), but more commonly the framework read in response to K/Performance affs.

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So, here's what I think. First and foremost, it is not my role as a white person to decide how a black person should respond to their oppression, so I will not address that part of the issue. Instead I want to focus on the speech act itself rather than its ability or inability to act as a tool for liberation.

 

On that note, I really did not like Rutgers's neg strat. At all. Here are the main reasons why:

 

1) It's disrespectful to Natalie and Ezra, and to their families.

 

I hated the line in the 1NR where Nicole said she was happy that Georgetown's families would be watching the recording of the round and seeing their children getting harassed. To me, that is just cruel. I don't think anyone deserves to be talked to like that in an academic space. When that kind of taunting happens in a school, authorities step in and put an end to it, because it's violent and has real consequences. That kind of rhetoric can drive people to self-harm. Yet when it happens in a debate round, the people who are doing the taunting win the national championship for it? That doesn't seem right.

 

2) It's going to have repercussions for the community and the activity.

 

A lot of people are going to look at this and decide that policy debate isn't for them. Insecure teens won't want their flaws exposed and magnified in front of hundreds of people, and then to top it all off, validated with a ballot (or 4). Parents and coaches won't want to send their kids into that kind of environment, either. Also, people who were bent on excluding K teams before are going to be even more staunch about it because of this. And it gives them ammunition to say that the debates created by open interpretations of the resolution are interpersonal, nonacademic, and "ruin the activity". Rutgers correctly pointed out that the community is divided, there is real stigma against performance teams, and I can appreciate that it must suck to lose on framework when you're arguing a deeply personal identity-related aff. But I cannot see how a room full of K debaters cheering on Rutgers while they verbally cut down their opponents essentially for being a successful policy team will change any part of the situation for the better. 

 

3) It created a toxic atmosphere in the round.

 

I think there's a difference between necessary uncomfortability and what Rutgers did. The first time I hit an identity-based performance aff, I was hella uncomfortable. And that was good because it made me reflect on my privilege as a white person, and my ability to come into this space and leave my lived experience at the door. And the aff team in that round was absolutely savage, especially during the 2AR after I went for framework. They embarrassed us in cross x, and made us look really stupid. But they never attacked us, insulted our appearances, or anything like that. All of our discomfort stemmed from our inability to grapple with their narrative, which was seriously a good thing. But watching Rutgers vs Georgetown, I only felt the hostility, with things like "We should reject it just like Natalie ass" and "Ezra, you're a really bad cross x-er", to the point where the comedy roast was long over and Nicole was just hurling insults at Natalie in the 1NR. It was just over the top, and I don't think it's in the spirit of making debate inclusive or "a home". 

 

I 100% agree. I'm certain that this argument can be run in a way that doesn't involve seriously emotionally harassing debaters and their families. To me, this alone is a reason this argument shouldn't be run. Debate has been a home for me, and I can't claim to know how it's been for Rutgers (because, although I'm latino, I'll never know what it's like to be a black debate), but having made it to the finals of the NDT, I'd assume they also enjoy debate, which means the personal attacks on Georgetown are just plain mean. They've taken a space that has served as an inclusive community for many and made it highly uncomfortable. I can certainly see future debaters be drawn away from debate because of this. I (like most) do debate because it's fun, but had I been in that round I would have seriously reconsidered what this community means to me.

This debate centers on the question of comfortability. I think Rutgers is right about white uncomfortability being good, but doesn't achieve it.

 

Have you ever debated an afropessimism or performance team that really makes you feel? Like, when you argue framework, they just make you feel stupid for it in crossx, embarrassed, foolish for even pretending that debate could EVER be a neutral contestation around the topic. That's part of what Wilderson argues, unsettling white folk by implicating their whiteness-- making them feel guilty, unsettled, and uncomfortable BECAUSE of their position of privilege.

 

Rutgers doesn't do that. Rutgers strategy of roasting is just insults that make Georgetown feel bad. Not arguments or even insults that make them feel bad because they are privileged, but just insults. This is not productive, it's just being needlessly mean, and it also in some ways disrespects things black debaters experience.

 

To my understanding, the harassment of black debaters implicates their very ontology -- they feel what they feel because they are black. Rutgers fail because they don't upset the ontology of whiteness, they just make Georgetown as individuals feel like shit.

I was thinking about this. Beyond the impact this has on the debate community, this can be framed as a huge solvency deficit that should've been in the 2ac.

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Right now, I'm having a very hard time buying the "white people should be made to feel uncomfortable in debate because black people are made to feel uncomfortable" argument.

 

The more I think about this issue, the more I've come to realize that there are serious disconnects in my understanding of it. So I'd like to posit a couple questions. People are free to answer them or not answer them. I'm simply interested in listening and learning, not demanding information and explanations.

 

(1) How are black people made to feel uncomfortable in debate? (not performance teams, black people writ large.)

 

(2) Why is traditional policy debate inaccessible to black people, or, less accessible to them than to white people? (please don't tell me research, camp fees, coaching, etc. These things are required to be a successful k debater as well)

 

(3) If framework arguments and traditional policy tactics (nondisclosure for new affs, k preempts in the 1ac, etc) are so violent, maybe that's evidence for some fundamental incompatibility between competitive spaces and survival strategies? I'm having trouble seeing how the debate community could respond to performance teams in a way that wouldn't be violent under that lens.

 

(1) I'm a black debater that did PF, and now does traditional policy. I've answered this question a few times in this thread on cross-x, but I'm going to reiterate it here and gonna try to be a little more descriptive so I hope it makes sense. When I started in PF in high school my school's program was the only black school in the state that actually comprised of mostly black kids on the team. It was the only program that comprised of black debaters (i.e non-speech kids), and it was disappointing. My team had everyone from kids that went to ivy league schools to kids that got arrested several times that season. It's disappointing walking into a space and knowing you stick out like a sore thumb despite the fact that there should definitely be more people that look like you here given the demographics of the area. It was even more disappointing knowing that even as we won rounds/tournaments/etc., we'd be going back to a school that criticized and devalued our intellectual pursuits because of the way society was oriented. However, my biggest problem was that there were so many people in the debate community that were explicitly or implicitly racist and had no intention of checking themselves. There were blatantly offensive arguments ran during topics that centered on black people, and blatantly offensive comments made in/out of the round. And as I've said before, in my personal life, I was the target of a few direct racial (physical and verbal) attacks that nobody took seriously. It seems as though the answer that many states have taken to address this issue is to just move debaters into UDL, arguing that they can learn some argumentative skills even if they aren't competing with everyone else, but then when we all reintegrate during college, you all want to reject the args made by black teams and tell them to get out the space. Beyond that, there's just the simple fact that antiblackness is everyone and infiltrates every community (including debate). There are implicit biases against black speakers, and that can extend into the debate society no matter how enlightened everyone tries to seem. There are also blatantly racist people that are still accepted into the community. 

 

(2) I'm not a performance/K aff debater so I'm not really going to speak to this. Instead, I'm going to make a different argument. I think K debaters and Performance debaters make traditional debaters better people. Traditional debaters like to make arguments about how debate has good portable skills and promotes policymaking and makes people good citizens, but I'd argue that the bulk of you have never actually tried to develop a good understanding of antiblackness. I'd argue the bulk of you haven't tried to comprehend the black experience, or how your words and actions or the words/actions of others impact black people. I think it's good for you all to be made directly aware of those issues, and I think K/Performance debate does that. If you all want to be good policymakers or whatever else you advocate for, I feel like understanding how racism operates and not being dismissive of it is key. I think K and Performance debaters force you all to interrogate the way society operates and your position in it. 

 

(3) Again, as someone that doesn't debate k-aff/performance (but has been inspired to learn and run these arguments after seeing Rutgers and a few other teams), I think that there's also another element of this you may be missing. I think that by running Framework or trying to disengage the aff, you're really hurting yourself. I think that there's valuable education in understanding/critiquing these aff's that move beyond "I don't want to talk about this/debate isn't about this". I think teams like Rutgers specifically are key to getting people to stop denying/being ignorant of antiblackness. 

 

Lastly, on the notion that it's not fair to make white people uncomfortable just because black people are...I think white uncomfortability is great. I love that there are so many people on cross-x genuinely upset about what happened in this round. I think it's good for white people to understand what it's like to feel mistreated and feel oppressed, but that doesn't mean I think it's right to mistreat/oppress white people. I think people are often willfully ignorant and refuse to see the world for what it is. I think debates like this are great for forcing people to open their eyes to the world around them. 

Edited by AtlanticCoast
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This debate centers on the question of comfortability. I think Rutgers is right about white uncomfortability being good, but doesn't achieve it.

I know this is a thread about the overall strategy Rutgers employed, but I think it's worthwhile to note that the 2nr was basically the 1nc case page with disads to Georgetown's plan centric performance of the 1ac. There was very little mention of the land of petty, I think the only explicit reference was the white uncomfortability good arg. That might imply that by the end of the round Rutgers thought that the weren't going to win on their performance.

 

I'm not exactly sure how I would analyze that but maybe it's worth noting.

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I don't think Black uncomfortability is good in the slightest. Yet, I don't think it justifies white uncomfortability. I think violence is bad no matter on whom it is inflicted.

 

I do think the debate space is divided and exclusionary. Not only that, but I think the teams that try to challenge it get a stigma as "the anti-Blackness debaters." A lot of other debaters hide behind framework and capitalism Ks because it offers a sense of safety.

 

But as I said before, I don't see the debate space as explicitly hostile, but rather implicitly exclusionary through things like exclusionary framework arguments, or the casual silencing of Black voices, or - as Rutgers mentioned in the round - "not having anything to say to us in the hallway."

 

So it is bad, and built into the social structure of debate.

Sorry for the doublepost, but I wanted to make sure I answered your question. I think you are wrong when you say that the next step for Rutgers is to make debate an uncomfortable step for white people. I never got that impression of Rutgers' arguments. Instead I interpreted the goal was to make white people uncomfortable so that they understand what black uncomfortability is like and attempt to address the issues in debate that allow black uncomfortability to occur. This is why I believe that white uncomfortability is good (in debate, and in the world at large). If you look to the famous sociological experiments done by Jane Elliot, she makes white people divide themselves into characteristics like eye color, and then allows people to oppress each other based on those characteristics so that they understand the ridiculousness of racism. While she is critiquing a more explicit form of racism that Rutgers is, I think Rutgers' arguments serve the same purpose of asking people "You didn't like that did you? So why do you let it happen to blacks." You can say antiblackness in debate (or in society) is bad, but if you're not willing to address it, all you do is propagate it. Why do we accept this, but are willing to crucify Rutgers for a different form of violence? Does implicit hostility make it better? 

 

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Sorry for the doublepost, but I wanted to make sure I answered your question. I think you are wrong when you say that the next step for Rutgers is to make debate an uncomfortable step for white people. I never got that impression of Rutgers' arguments. Instead I interpreted the goal was to make white people uncomfortable so that they understand what black uncomfortability is like and attempt to address the issues in debate that allow black uncomfortability to occur. This is why I believe that white uncomfortability is good (in debate, and in the world at large). If you look to the famous sociological experiments done by Jane Elliot, she makes white people divide themselves into characteristics like eye color, and then allows people to oppress each other based on those characteristics so that they understand the ridiculousness of racism. While she is critiquing a more explicit form of racism that Rutgers is, I think Rutgers' arguments serve the same purpose of asking people "You didn't like that did you? So why do you let it happen to blacks." You can say antiblackness in debate (or in society) is bad, but if you're not willing to address it, all you do is propagate it. Why do we accept this, but are willing to crucify Rutgers for a different form of violence? Does implicit hostility make it better? 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4yrg7vV4a5o

I agree that Rutgers' didn't seem to be arguing for constant uncomfortability. At the same time, if Rutgers' didn't have that as their last debate, I think they might've kept pointing out anti-Black violence in debate.

 

I guess that brings me to the inevitable end question of this discussion: what now?

 

What can I do to make debate a more inviting and less exclusionary place?

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I agree that Rutgers' didn't seem to be arguing for constant uncomfortability. At the same time, if Rutgers' didn't have that as their last debate, I think they might've kept pointing out anti-Black violence in debate.

 

I guess that brings me to the inevitable end question of this discussion: what now?

 

What can I do to make debate a more inviting and less exclusionary place?

To add onto this - can someone explain to me what exactly the judges were voting for when they voted negative? I only managed to watch the 1NC because Dark Souls 3 DLC released the same day as the NDT finals. From what I've gathered in this discussion though is that something along the lines of Bryant '12 would've made sense as persuasive AFF argument - you know the whole "we know the problems are there but we aren't making feasible proposals to solve them - stuck in critique mindset" type of argument. 

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine

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I agree that Rutgers' didn't seem to be arguing for constant uncomfortability. At the same time, if Rutgers' didn't have that as their last debate, I think they might've kept pointing out anti-Black violence in debate.

 

I guess that brings me to the inevitable end question of this discussion: what now?

 

What can I do to make debate a more inviting and less exclusionary place?

 

 

I think debate and debaters are really just a reflection of society writ large. While debaters may be smarter or more educated, that doesn't make us perfect. I think the first step is addressing people's personal shortcomings when it comes to addressing racism/antiblackness, and then having that spillover into how they live their lives and approach things like debate. Do these discussions have to come in debate rounds? No, probably not. Does that mean that they can't? Nah. 

 

I'm not sure if the strategy Rutgers employed will cause people to rethink how they and the community operate. I just know that every time I've watched that team debate, I've walked away inspired. 

 

"What next" is a question I really don't have an answer to. I'm not sure what logistically is the best way to promote change. Right now, I like to volunteer with debaters of all ages, helping people younger than me learn why debate is good and hoping I instill something in them that makes them want to stay in debate and debate something that matters to them. I do think being receptive to arguments like this is probably a good first step though. 

Edited by AtlanticCoast

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(1) I'm a black debater that did PF, and now does traditional policy. I've answered this question a few times in this thread on cross-x, but I'm going to reiterate it here and gonna try to be a little more descriptive so I hope it makes sense. When I started in PF in high school my school's program was the only black school in the state that actually comprised of mostly black kids on the team. It was the only program that comprised of black debaters (i.e non-speech kids), and it was disappointing. My team had everyone from kids that went to ivy league schools to kids that got arrested several times that season. It's disappointing walking into a space and knowing you stick out like a sore thumb despite the fact that there should definitely be more people that look like you here given the demographics of the area. It was even more disappointing knowing that even as we won rounds/tournaments/etc., we'd be going back to a school that criticized and devalued our intellectual pursuits because of the way society was oriented. However, my biggest problem was that there were so many people in the debate community that were explicitly or implicitly racist and had no intention of checking themselves. There were blatantly offensive arguments ran during topics that centered on black people, and blatantly offensive comments made in/out of the round. And as I've said before, in my personal life, I was the target of a few direct racial (physical and verbal) attacks that nobody took seriously. It seems as though the answer that many states have taken to address this issue is to just move debaters into UDL, arguing that they can learn some argumentative skills even if they aren't competing with everyone else, but then when we all reintegrate during college, you all want to reject the args made by black teams and tell them to get out the space. Beyond that, there's just the simple fact that antiblackness is everyone and infiltrates every community (including debate). There are implicit biases against black speakers, and that can extend into the debate society no matter how enlightened everyone tries to seem. There are also blatantly racist people that are still accepted into the community. 

 

(2) I'm not a performance/K aff debater so I'm not really going to speak to this. Instead, I'm going to make a different argument. I think K debaters and Performance debaters make traditional debaters better people. Traditional debaters like to make arguments about how debate has good portable skills and promotes policymaking and makes people good citizens, but I'd argue that the bulk of you have never actually tried to develop a good understanding of antiblackness. I'd argue the bulk of you haven't tried to comprehend the black experience, or how your words and actions or the words/actions of others impact black people. I think it's good for you all to be made directly aware of those issues, and I think K/Performance debate does that. If you all want to be good policymakers or whatever else you advocate for, I feel like understanding how racism operates and not being dismissive of it is key. I think K and Performance debaters force you all to interrogate the way society operates and your position in it. 

 

(3) Again, as someone that doesn't debate k-aff/performance (but has been inspired to learn and run these arguments after seeing Rutgers and a few other teams), I think that there's also another element of this you may be missing. I think that by running Framework or trying to disengage the aff, you're really hurting yourself. I think that there's valuable education in understanding/critiquing these aff's that move beyond "I don't want to talk about this/debate isn't about this". I think teams like Rutgers specifically are key to getting people to stop denying/being ignorant of antiblackness. 

 

Lastly, on the notion that it's not fair to make white people uncomfortable just because black people are...I think white uncomfortability is great. I love that there are so many people on cross-x genuinely upset about what happened in this round. I think it's good for white people to understand what it's like to feel mistreated and feel oppressed, but that doesn't mean I think it's right to mistreat/oppress white people. I think people are often willfully ignorant and refuse to see the world for what it is. I think debates like this are great for forcing people to open their eyes to the world around them. 

I don't want to downplay what you said nor do I want to come off as rude or offensive - how exactly do you know how people feel in response to your teams achievements? Does it come from specific experiences wherein a team says stuff like "You only won 'cause you're black..." etc. or does it come more from a reading of literature centered on antiblackness? And how do you know those "blatantly racist people" are accepted into the community - have you asked people if they're okay with how they act? Also do you feel as if the treatment your team receives is only concentrated to the area in which you debate, or do you feel as if you'd receive the same treatment if you debated on the national circuit/in another area - I guess what I'm asking if the experience of being a black debater changes based on where you debate at? 

 

On your second point - why can't teams reading affirmatives with impacts such as racism suffice for what you believe to be a necessary encounter with how racism operates in the real world? Is that not a much more coherent picture that assumes a policymakers that understands the machinations of racism?

 

I feel as if your third point presupposes a rejection of the, I guess, implicit rules of debate (e.g. the resolution) - I understand that there have been arguments made which say that defending state action is antiblack and all (and again that presupposes an acceptance of antiblackness as a theory that makes sense in explaining particular phenomena). I guess I'm asking, why can't the team read their antiblackness arguments on negative? I understand this is already an argument made (you know, SSD good and stuff), and from what I've gathered on this forum - a lot of people hold SSD good arguments to be true. I guess I'm asking - why is reading FW against an aff not engaging the aff itself? Most of the times, the way I see these FW debates play out is the negative team reads evidence as to how state action can resolve the particular arguments described in the 1AC much better and then provide reasons for engagement with the State. 

 

Again, I don't want to downplay what you said nor come off as rude or offensive but I feel as if these questions are necessary and must be answered. 

Edited by Theparanoiacmachine
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"What next" is a question I really don't have an answer to. I'm not sure what logistically is the best way to promote change. Right now, I like to volunteer with debaters of all ages, helping people younger than me learn why debate is good and hoping I instill something in them that makes them want to stay in debate and debate something that matters to them. I do think being receptive to arguments like this is probably a good first step though.

 

The idea of going up against a team running this style and content very much scares me. If I try to engage it substantively, I know that I'll either lose or feel racist in winning. I would probably go for framework because it would make me feel safe just having to defend that the resolution is good.

 

How can I engage the arguments and have a productive discussion without the fear of being misunderstood?

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I don't want to downplay what you said nor do I want to come off as rude or offensive - how exactly do you know how people feel in response to your teams achievements? Does it come from specific experiences wherein a team says stuff like "You only won 'cause you're black..." etc. or does it come more from a reading of literature centered on antiblackness? And how do you know those "blatantly racist people" are accepted into the community - have you asked people if they're okay with how they act? Also do you feel as if the treatment your team receives is only concentrated to the area in which you debate, or do you feel as if you'd receive the same treatment if you debated on the national circuit/in another area - I guess what I'm asking if the experience of being a black debater changes based on where you debate at? 

 

On your second point - why can't teams reading affirmatives with impacts such as racism suffice for what you believe to be a necessary encounter with how racism operates in the real world? Is that not a much more coherent picture that assumes a policymakers that understands the machinations or racism?

 

I feel as if your third point presupposes a rejection of the, I guess, implicit rules of debate (e.g. the resolution) - I understand that there have been arguments made which say that defending state action is antiblack and all (and again that presupposes an acceptance of antiblackness as a theory that makes sense in explaining particular phenomena). I guess I'm asking, why can't the team read their antiblackness arguments on negative? I understand this is already an argument made (you know, SSD good and stuff), and from what I've gathered on this forum - a lot of people hold SSD good arguments to be true. I guess I'm asking - why is reading FW against an aff not engaging the aff itself? Most of the times, the way I see these FW debates play out is the negative team reads evidence as to how state action can resolve the particular arguments described in the 1AC much better and then provide reasons for engagement with the State. 

 

Again, I don't want to downplay what you said nor come off as rude or offensive but I feel as if these questions are necessary and must be answered. 

1. A- I never said anything about another team not liking that I won a round. I was referring to students at my school that didn't value academic pursuits. This was back when I did PF also so idk where the antiblackness literature argument comes in. B.  I know these blatantly racist people are accepted in the community because I've had to interact with them and have seen them interact with others. C. I occasionally went to national circuit tournaments and found myself feeling even more out of place. I also found the same annoyingly offensive comments reiterated that I saw on the local stage. I also don't feel ok speaking for all black debaters, this is just how I feel about the community.

 

2. First, I'm generally a traditional debater, so I'm probably not the best to ask about it. Even so, teams read impact cards all the time without actually caring about/believing what they say. Some teams read "soft-left affs" just so that they can have some defense against K teams. Reading random cards about black people dying of pollution or people in Flint needing water doesn't mean that you actually understand antiblackness or how it operates. "racism has impacts" does not mean you understand what it feels like to be marginalized nor does it mean you understand the voices of the marginalized. Also, even if your argument had merit, it doesn't mean that K debate nor Performance debate don't also expose you to these issues. I feel like the K debates and Performance debates directly involve the speakers into the discussion of racism, rather than turn oppression into abstract impacts. 

 

3. I don't read a K aff so I'm again, not the person to ask. I like watching these debates. I like analyzing the debates. Whether the aff has to be "topical" as you put it isn't really something I'm concerned with. When it comes to your question of why reading FW means you're not engaging the aff...I mean...I think it's kinda the point of framework: "I dont want to debate antiblackness/I don't want to discuss it here". You're not trying to discuss antiblackness, you're trying to discuss why defending the USFG is good and why the aff's argument shouldn't be allowed. This could probably be articulated better by someone that is engaged in this style of debate though. 

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(1) I'm a black debater that did PF, and now does traditional policy. I've answered this question a few times in this thread on cross-x, but I'm going to reiterate it here and gonna try to be a little more descriptive so I hope it makes sense. When I started in PF in high school my school's program was the only black school in the state that actually comprised of mostly black kids on the team. It was the only program that comprised of black debaters (i.e non-speech kids), and it was disappointing. My team had everyone from kids that went to ivy league schools to kids that got arrested several times that season. It's disappointing walking into a space and knowing you stick out like a sore thumb despite the fact that there should definitely be more people that look like you here given the demographics of the area. It was even more disappointing knowing that even as we won rounds/tournaments/etc., we'd be going back to a school that criticized and devalued our intellectual pursuits because of the way society was oriented. However, my biggest problem was that there were so many people in the debate community that were explicitly or implicitly racist and had no intention of checking themselves. There were blatantly offensive arguments ran during topics that centered on black people, and blatantly offensive comments made in/out of the round. And as I've said before, in my personal life, I was the target of a few direct racial (physical and verbal) attacks that nobody took seriously. It seems as though the answer that many states have taken to address this issue is to just move debaters into UDL, arguing that they can learn some argumentative skills even if they aren't competing with everyone else, but then when we all reintegrate during college, you all want to reject the args made by black teams and tell them to get out the space. Beyond that, there's just the simple fact that antiblackness is everyone and infiltrates every community (including debate). There are implicit biases against black speakers, and that can extend into the debate society no matter how enlightened everyone tries to seem. There are also blatantly racist people that are still accepted into the community. 

 

(2) I'm not a performance/K aff debater so I'm not really going to speak to this. Instead, I'm going to make a different argument. I think K debaters and Performance debaters make traditional debaters better people. Traditional debaters like to make arguments about how debate has good portable skills and promotes policymaking and makes people good citizens, but I'd argue that the bulk of you have never actually tried to develop a good understanding of antiblackness. I'd argue the bulk of you haven't tried to comprehend the black experience, or how your words and actions or the words/actions of others impact black people. I think it's good for you all to be made directly aware of those issues, and I think K/Performance debate does that. If you all want to be good policymakers or whatever else you advocate for, I feel like understanding how racism operates and not being dismissive of it is key. I think K and Performance debaters force you all to interrogate the way society operates and your position in it. 

 

(3) Again, as someone that doesn't debate k-aff/performance (but has been inspired to learn and run these arguments after seeing Rutgers and a few other teams), I think that there's also another element of this you may be missing. I think that by running Framework or trying to disengage the aff, you're really hurting yourself. I think that there's valuable education in understanding/critiquing these aff's that move beyond "I don't want to talk about this/debate isn't about this". I think teams like Rutgers specifically are key to getting people to stop denying/being ignorant of antiblackness. 

 

Lastly, on the notion that it's not fair to make white people uncomfortable just because black people are...I think white uncomfortability is great. I love that there are so many people on cross-x genuinely upset about what happened in this round. I think it's good for white people to understand what it's like to feel mistreated and feel oppressed, but that doesn't mean I think it's right to mistreat/oppress white people. I think people are often willfully ignorant and refuse to see the world for what it is. I think debates like this are great for forcing people to open their eyes to the world around them. 

First of all, thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions even after addressing some of those very issues previously. I hope this can be a productive discussion.

 

1) So I wanna separate your response here in to a couple segments

 

a. The PF stuff you talk about

First of all, if you're referring to the reparations topic, I heard some really messed up shit coming from nonblack debaters on that topic, and I definitely can get on board with your criticisms of that. I cringed hearing some of those things, and I can't even begin to imagine what it might be like to be black and have to put up with that, and I think you can also cross apply your argument below about all spaces being inherently antiblack to some extent. If debate is as antiblack as the rest of America, it's effectively worse because it gives people a platform to export that antiblackness via political discourse, as seen above.

 

Second, while the way I experience it is certainly different, I understand from my life what it's like to be surrounded people who don't look like you. I can appreciate how uncomfortable it is, and I forget about it a lot more than I'd like to when I'm in spaces like debate. It's just easy to forget about when you're not experiencing it.

 

b. The UDL

I'll be honest, this is the first time I've ever thought of UDL's as an attempt to remove black debaters. I always thought they were a way to provide the opportunity to debate for kids who can't afford the obscene price tag of national circuit debate. But I will think about what you've said.

 

c. The explicit and implicit racism

Never heard of this, never experienced it, but I don't doubt for a second that it exists. It's just really hard for me to conceive of that as a white person. In my mind, debate is so inclusive that the rest of society looks down on it (ie CEDA 14). People can lose rounds for gendered language, ableist language, and debaters from a a variety of subjectivities are free to bring their experiences into this space and be competitively successful while doing it. To me, the idea that racism in any form could happen in that space is hard to imagine. But there was a time when I thought racism in modern America couldn't happen, either. So that goes to show my view is tainted by privilege and I will take you at your word. It makes me sad to hear, but based on what you're saying then maybe debate isn't as inclusive as I thought.

 

2) Sure. I don't dispute any of that. Your answers above addressed my motivation behind this question, so I'll leave it at that.

 

3) With all due respect, that doesn't really answer my question. In a space where people are inevitably competing for the ballot, which requires negating one another's speech acts, how are white debaters to engage with identity affs without being oppressive? It's not a classroom. No one is going to say "thank you for educating me" and leave it at that. In my mind, framework is my best attempt to win while still keeping a clear conscience, because I don't want to get into the business of telling people that their personal survival strategies are insufficient or bad. I would rather say it's the wrong time/place than to go after their substance. Like really, is there a proper way for a white person to critique a black person's survival strategy? People don't want to be put into that position, which is why framework is so damn common.

 

Again, I agree with the spirit of what you're saying but I'm just not there. For a community that's been listening to narratives of antiblackness for a really long time, to the ire of the outside world, I have trouble seeing the uniqueness of what Rutgers did in terms of enlightening the community. And I know debate made me a lot more aware of black suffering. (Growing up constantly surrounded by black people it was very easy for me to think I understood blackness. Debate taught me how wrong that is, and that's something I will always be grateful for). Most of white America thinks reverse racism is a thing, and tens of millions voted for Donald Trump. Yet the debate community are the ones who need to open their eyes? And it has to happen through personal attacks, no less? I just can't swallow that. Not now. But I will continue thinking about what you wrote above and hopefully some of it will sink in and help me see the purpose to all of this. Thanks again for your post.

Edited by Nonegfiat

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3) With all due respect, that doesn't really answer my question. In a space where people are inevitably competing for the ballot, which requires negating one another's speech acts, how are white debaters to engage with identity affs without being oppressive? It's not a classroom. No one is going to say "thank you for educating me" and leave it at that. In my mind, framework is my best attempt to win while still keeping a clear conscience, because I don't want to get into the business of telling people that their personal survival strategies are insufficient or bad. I would rather say it's the wrong time/place than to go after their substance. Like really, is there a proper way for a white person to critique a black person's survival strategy? People don't want to be put into that position, which is why framework is so damn common.

 

Again, I agree with the spirit of what you're saying but I'm just not there. For a community that's been listening to narratives of antiblackness for a really long time, to the ire of the outside world, I have trouble seeing the uniqueness of what Rutgers did in terms of enlightening the community. And I know debate made me a lot more aware of black suffering. (Growing up constantly surrounded by black people it was very easy for me to think I understood blackness. Debate taught me how wrong that is, and that's something I will always be grateful for). Most of white America thinks reverse racism is a thing, and tens of millions voted for Donald Trump. Yet the debate community are the ones who need to open their eyes? And it has to happen through personal attacks, no less? I just can't swallow that. Not now. But I will continue thinking about what you wrote above and hopefully some of it will sink in and help me see the purpose to all of this. Thanks again for your post.

 

1- I know that didn't answer your question. If I was someone that engaged in Kritikal Aff's/Performance then I'd feel much more comfortable answering it for you, but I don't, and I don't want to run the risk of giving you information that isn't necessarily accurate or indicative of what the general consensus is. I think you can critique the implications of different survival strategies, and argue it sets a bad precedent. I've sat in on a couple of rounds where this was done effectively. 

 

2- First, I don't think Rutgers' strategy has to be novel for it to be good. I think that's an unfair burden. Reducing antiblackness to a uniqueness debate is kinda weird. I found it personally moving, but that's just me. Next, It's kind of weird for you to go from saying "yes antiblackness in debate exists" to saying "why is the debate community the ones that need to recognize antiblackness? We're the good guys". While you said you were into this entire conversation and found it helpful, it now seems very dismissive. I don't know. The thesis of my argument is kinda that we can claim to be openminded and understanding all we want, but that doesn't make it true. That's why I think this interrogation is important. Otherwise people go through life without actually understanding their position or the impacts of what they say/do. Trying to absolve debaters of any guilt or culpability misses the point when half of this discussion was specific to issues in debate.

Edited by AtlanticCoast

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3) With all due respect, that doesn't really answer my question. In a space where people are inevitably competing for the ballot, which requires negating one another's speech acts, how are white debaters to engage with identity affs without being oppressive? It's not a classroom. No one is going to say "thank you for educating me" and leave it at that. In my mind, framework is my best attempt to win while still keeping a clear conscience, because I don't want to get into the business of telling people that their personal survival strategies are insufficient or bad. I would rather say it's the wrong time/place than to go after their substance. Like really, is there a proper way for a white person to critique a black person's survival strategy? People don't want to be put into that position, which is why framework is so damn common.

 

Again, I agree with the spirit of what you're saying but I'm just not there. For a community that's been listening to narratives of antiblackness for a really long time, to the ire of the outside world, I have trouble seeing the uniqueness of what Rutgers did in terms of enlightening the community. And I know debate made me a lot more aware of black suffering. (Growing up constantly surrounded by black people it was very easy for me to think I understood blackness. Debate taught me how wrong that is, and that's something I will always be grateful for). Most of white America thinks reverse racism is a thing, and tens of millions voted for Donald Trump. Yet the debate community are the ones who need to open their eyes? And it has to happen through personal attacks, no less? I just can't swallow that. Not now. But I will continue thinking about what you wrote above and hopefully some of it will sink in and help me see the purpose to all of this. Thanks again for your post.

not all anti-blackness args are survival strategies, and conflating them is border-line homogenization.

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2- First, I don't think Rutgers' strategy has to be novel for it to be good. I think that's an unfair burden. Reducing antiblackness to a uniqueness debate is kinda weird. I found it personally moving, but that's just me. Next, It's kind of weird for you to go from saying "yes antiblackness in debate exists" to saying "why is the debate community the ones that need to recognize antiblackness? We're the good guys". While you said you were into this entire conversation and found it helpful, it now seems very dismissive. I don't know. The thesis of my argument is kinda that we can claim to be openminded and understanding all we want, but that doesn't make it true. That's why I think this interrogation is important. 

1. I didn't mean to reduce antiblackness to a uniqueness debate. I was saying I don't understand how Rutgers's strategy garners any sort of unique solvency for exposing antiblackness in debate. i.e. why did they need to resort to personal attacks to communicate issues of antiblackness? What you said about their strategy not needing to be novel to be good is exactly my point here. I don't understand why their specific strategy was necessary.

 

2. My argument is that the debate community does recognize antiblackness, not that they don't need to. Hence, why did Rutgers have to go the extra step? And I'm disappointed that I came across as dismissive. I'm sorry for that. I understand the inconsistency of what I've said. To be honest I'm experiencing some cognitive dissonance right now and it will be a while before I can resolve that. I just didn't really appreciate your rhetoric of saying that the personal attacks coming from Rutgers was justified because the debate community needs to "open their eyes". That felt like it was discrediting the radical openness that we do have, even while there is more work to be done. But again, I'll take blame where blame is due.

 

Lastly I will agree with the thesis you've given, and that's something I'm realizing the more I think about your original message. So thanks again for the talk, and again, I'm sorry if I came across as dismissive.

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not all anti-blackness args are survival strategies, and conflating them is border-line homogenization.

You misread my post. I used "identity aff" and "survival strategy" as synonyms. Obviously 1 off wilderson isnt always a survival strategy. If you want to still get hung up on the difference between those two terms, fine. I'll accept they aren't the same. But I think my argument applies in both cases. I don't like the idea of negating one's expression of identity, survival strategy or not.

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1. I didn't mean to reduce antiblackness to a uniqueness debate. I was saying I don't understand how Rutgers's strategy garners any sort of unique solvency for exposing antiblackness in debate. i.e. why did they need to resort to personal attacks to communicate issues of antiblackness? What you said about their strategy not needing to be novel to be good is exactly my point here. I don't understand why their specific strategy was necessary.

 

2. My argument is that the debate community does recognize antiblackness, not that they don't need to. Hence, why did Rutgers have to go the extra step? And I'm disappointed that I came across as dismissive. I'm sorry for that. I understand the inconsistency of what I've said. To be honest I'm experiencing some cognitive dissonance right now and it will be a while before I can resolve that. I just didn't really appreciate your rhetoric of saying that the personal attacks coming from Rutgers was justified because the debate community needs to "open their eyes". That felt like it was discrediting the radical openness that we do have, even while there is more work to be done. But again, I'll take blame where blame is due.

 

Lastly I will agree with the thesis you've given, and that's something I'm realizing the more I think about your original message. So thanks again for the talk, and again, I'm sorry if I came across as dismissive.

Just because black teams run antiblackness arguments, that doesn't mean that the debate community believes those arguments, isn't antiblack, nor isn't need of interrogation. The entire point of the Rutgers' argument goes back to what I was saying earlier that "if you recognize it, why aren't you doing anything about it?" If the debate community is aware of these issues as you say, and isn't taking active steps to address them, that makes them complacent (which also was argued by Rutgers). I'll also reiterate that the fact that these debates are happening about the round, do prove that Rutgers' approach was effective.

 

Also, I've mentioned in several posts on here that I would not use the same words Rutgers used. I would not regurgitate the insults in the 1NR. I argued that white uncomfortability is good and that it helps complacent debaters "open their eyes". That's all. I never offered a defense of the specific insults that Rutgers used. I will say that flaws and all, I would feel comfortable voting for them, and I was moved by the performance.

 

Thanks.

Edited by AtlanticCoast
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Just because black teams run antiblackness arguments, that doesn't mean that the debate community believes those arguments, isn't antiblack, nor isn't need of interrogation. The entire point of the Rutgers' argument goes back to what I was saying earlier that "if you recognize it, why aren't you doing anything about it?" If the debate community is aware of these issues as you say, and isn't taking active steps to address them, that makes them complacent (which also was argued by Rutgers). I'll also reiterate that the fact that these debates are happening about the round, do prove that Rutgers' approach was effective.

 

Also, I've mentioned in several posts on here that I would not use the same words Rutgers used. I would not regurgitate the insults in the 1NR. I argued that white uncomfortability is good and that it helps complacent debaters "open their eyes". That's all. I never offered a defense of the specific insults that Rutgers used. I will say that flaws and all, I would feel comfortable voting for them, and I was moved by the performance.

 

Thanks.

Alright, i can get behind that. A lot of my issues with the strategy stemmed from the specific way that it was carried out, and it sounds like we agree on that. And your analysis on the top part makes a lot of sense

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1. A- I never said anything about another team not liking that I won a round. I was referring to students at my school that didn't value academic pursuits. This was back when I did PF also so idk where the antiblackness literature argument comes in. B.  I know these blatantly racist people are accepted in the community because I've had to interact with them and have seen them interact with others. C. I occasionally went to national circuit tournaments and found myself feeling even more out of place. I also found the same annoyingly offensive comments reiterated that I saw on the local stage. I also don't feel ok speaking for all black debaters, this is just how I feel about the community.

 

2. First, I'm generally a traditional debater, so I'm probably not the best to ask about it. Even so, teams read impact cards all the time without actually caring about/believing what they say. Some teams read "soft-left affs" just so that they can have some defense against K teams. Reading random cards about black people dying of pollution or people in Flint needing water doesn't mean that you actually understand antiblackness or how it operates. "racism has impacts" does not mean you understand what it feels like to be marginalized nor does it mean you understand the voices of the marginalized. Also, even if your argument had merit, it doesn't mean that K debate nor Performance debate don't also expose you to these issues. I feel like the K debates and Performance debates directly involve the speakers into the discussion of racism, rather than turn oppression into abstract impacts. 

 

3. I don't read a K aff so I'm again, not the person to ask. I like watching these debates. I like analyzing the debates. Whether the aff has to be "topical" as you put it isn't really something I'm concerned with. When it comes to your question of why reading FW means you're not engaging the aff...I mean...I think it's kinda the point of framework: "I dont want to debate antiblackness/I don't want to discuss it here". You're not trying to discuss antiblackness, you're trying to discuss why defending the USFG is good and why the aff's argument shouldn't be allowed. This could probably be articulated better by someone that is engaged in this style of debate though. 

Thanks for the response my dude, I appreciate it 

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To add onto this - can someone explain to me what exactly the judges were voting for when they voted negative? I only managed to watch the 1NC because Dark Souls 3 DLC released the same day as the NDT finals. From what I've gathered in this discussion though is that something along the lines of Bryant '12 would've made sense as persuasive AFF argument - you know the whole "we know the problems are there but we aren't making feasible proposals to solve them - stuck in critique mindset" type of argument. 

 

1. I think there were two key arguments from the negative. The one that seems to be of lesser importance was a framework argument by the negative about argumentative authenticity, that the aff shouldn't read a plan that they don't have an actual relationship to. I think what the debate came down to was this question of white uncomfortability and whether that's a) a good liberation strategy for the neg and B) whether that's an effective method for challenging Georgetown's culture of whiteness.

 

2. I don't really think Bryant would have been particularly responsive. I mean, that's one way the debate could have gone, but I don't think it's the most effective aff strategy. I think that the aff should've had a better articulation of why the neg's method was violent and why fighting violence with violence is bad. Literally every time I've thought about that argument in my head I think of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, because he actually explains really well how I think about this issue in that song. The second argument they should've made better is an argument that Rutgers' just didn't create the right kind of discomfort. I discussed this in my last post on this thread, that discomfort can be an extremely effective AND ethical tool, but Rutgers' was just mean. I also think someone else later pointed out that hurling insults at someone doesn't replicate the same ontological discomfort that black people feel.

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I've watched it again to confirm, and literally nothing in the 2NR talked about the importance of white discomfort for creating change. The 2N did mention that Georgetown is complacent towards status quo exclusion, but that's not the same argument. The 2NR went for framework, and implicated framework as the reason for Georgetown's complacency. I don't know why people in this thread are acting as if white uncomfortability was central to Rutgers' advocacy. Saying that discomfort per se is good was basically one throwaway line from cross examination. These arguments about reciprocity, valid or not, were not articulated by Rutgers.

Edited by Chaos
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