Debating Diversity

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?


  • PR muses on our official state religion here, here, and here.
  • Fenster wonders if there is such a thing as too much diversity.

About Fabrizio del Wrongo

Recovering liberal arts major. Unrepentant movie nut. Aspiring boozehound.
This entry was posted in Personal reflections, Politics and Economics and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Debating Diversity

  1. Will S. says:

    You’re obviously an ungleichgeschaltling and you’ve got to be gleichgeschaltet! 😉


  2. Marc Pisco says:

    If there were separate competitions, that would be “separate but equal”, which is racist in itself. Realistically, one of them would end up more prestigious. And there’s a tiny, but real, possibility that it might be the wrong one.

    I read that somebody did try to organize such a thing, and was promptly shut down on grounds of racism.

    Of course, the new debating style is only open to contestants with diversity points. If the non-diverse tried it, they’d be reviled as “privileged” “dudebros”.

    I wonder if real debaters will stop showing up at events which only reward diversities shouting gibberish. Probably not. Those kids are pleasers.


  3. Toddy Cat says:

    The problem with reducing all issues to “racial injustice” is that, objectively speaking, not all issues are about racial injustice, and these kids are going to be handicapped in the real world if this is all that they know how to argue. I have no problem with different speaking styles, but there seems to be more than that going on here. This isn’t the difference between black and white BB styles, this is like trying to create a totally different game out there on the court, with different rules, different scoring and a different playoff structure, and it’s not going to help anyone concerned when they are asked to blay basketball in the real world, and they camn only play race-based Calvinball.


    • Fabrizio del Wrongo says:

      Yeah, there’s that. My experience is that most young people — not just minorities — are really, really eager to transform everything into some kind of racial/gender/equality issue. It’s astonishing to watch them do this — it’s like watching some old scholastic turn everything into a discussion of Christian dogma. They’ve been trained to do that, I guess. To them, that is the smart, intellectual, and RIGHT way to approach every issue. It’s the water they swim around in.


      • Toddy Cat says:

        Really disturbing, if only because most of the problems the world is going to face in the next fifty years have nothing to do with any of that. These kids are getting ready for a replay of the second half of the twentieth century, and I’m afraid that they are going to be disappointed.


      • Thomas says:

        You clearly have never been even near a scholastic.


  4. peterike says:

    The marginalization of white values continues apace. Our elites will support anything — anything — if it’s anti-white. At the same time, they excuse themselves. Really, you think that in the board rooms of Goldman Sachs or the NY Times they are going to be open for some “nigga authenticity” style of debating? No no, standard Western norms for the elites. Chaos, depravity and disinheritance for the rest of you white chumps.


  5. Toddy Cat says:

    A scholastic what, Thomas? You can’t insult me if I don’t know what the Hell you mean. And if you honestly think that the biggest problems the world is going to face in the next fifty years have to do with racism, sexism, and homophobia, well, I envy you your sheltered life.


  6. Fenster says:

    When Fenster had his own blog–yes, Virginia, there was once a world without Uncouth Reflections!–he had occasion to comment in characteristic long-form style on academe’s diversity obsessions here:


  7. Pingback: Diversity Du Jour | Uncouth Reflections

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