Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
I had a boss once who was an old-time basketball guy. He’d coached tons of kids, black and white, male and female. Sometimes he’d talk about how the old coaching techniques were irrelevant to the modern day — they didn’t translate to “black-style basketball.” He said this without regret or rancor. He wasn’t an opponent of black-style basketball; he just acknowledged it as different.
I thought of him when I read this “Atlantic” article. The gist is that age-old debate standards — which I think it’s fair to say are white-person-developed standards – must be cast aside in order to allow for more black participation.
Actually, it’s not just more participation by blacks that’s desired; it’s more black-style participation. Black debate teams have discovered that they can win the competitions – or at least “top speaker” hosannas — by either reframing every issue so that it’s focused on racial injustice or by transforming the debate into a rap-inflected throwdown, full of attitude, bravado, and verbal razzmatazz.
Who can argue against the reality of racial injustice, right?
On March 24, 2014 at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Championships at Indiana University, two Towson University students, Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, became the first African-American women to win a national college debate tournament, for which the resolution asked whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted. Rather than address the resolution straight on, Ruffin and Johnson, along with other teams of African-Americans, attacked its premise. The more pressing issue, they argued, is how the U.S. government is at war with poor black communities.
And who doesn’t love some some rap-style braggadocio?
In the final round, Ruffin and Johnson squared off against Rashid Campbell and George Lee from the University of Oklahoma, two highly accomplished African-American debaters with distinctive dreadlocks and dashikis. Over four hours, the two teams engaged in a heated discussion of concepts like “nigga authenticity” and performed hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in the traditional timed format. At one point during Lee’s rebuttal, the clock ran out but he refused to yield the floor. “Fuck the time!” he yelled.
In all honesty, I’d probably have a better time watching these non-white kids do their Sista Souljah/World Star Hip Hop routines than I would sitting through some debate run by a bunch of Ivy-focused poindexters wearing sweaters.
But the whole kerfuffle does make me wonder: Wouldn’t it be better if the folks who wanted to engage in old, poindexter-style debating were allowed to do their thing, according to their rules, while the folks who wanted to creatively extemporize on racial issues and “nigga authenticity” did so in an entirely separate venue and using a different format? What is the point of mushing together the conflicting approaches and mindsets into one unwieldy whole? Aside from humiliating and enraging the tradition-minded participants — which maybe is the real point — what is to be gained from this?
Oh, that’s right — diversity is to be gained. And there’s no debating diversity. It’s inevitable, like the rising of the sun, the wilting of the flowers, the sagging of the titties.
Am I an evil person for thinking that diversity in all things and above all else makes for a pretty dopey ideology?