Friday, April 18, 2014

I guess Italian debaters should be able to just keep saying fuggetaboutit!...and whack their opponents at the end.

Today's assignment, boys and girls, is to read this piece, which I assure you is from the Atlantic (you may wonder as you read if it's from The Onion), and tell me if you come to the same conclusions I did about what blacks think of themselves, their culture, etc.

"The next debate in the series will be held..."
1. Blacks are profane loud-mouths.
2. Blacks don't want to have to observe any rules or conventions that are not of their own origination.
3. Blacks lack the research skills and "intellectual acuity" to keep up with the ebb-and-flow of traditional argumentation rooted in (a) facts and (b) the logical manipulation of same. (The term intellectual acuity is a direct quote from the piece.)
4. Blacks can't stay on-theme, but rather prefer to twist every argument into an exploration of the oppression they have suffered at the hands of whites. That's really all they want to talk about.
5. It is inherently discriminatory to expect blacks to think on their feet and express those thoughts in complete sentences, i.e. without resorting to hip-hop or performance art. 

Can you say "soft bigotry of low expectations"?

Would love to hear from black readers on this. Are you not offended by this piece and the patronizing, almost humiliating assumptions it appears to champion? If not, I want to know why.


RevRon's Rants said...

I wonder how long it will be before similar concessions are made in spelling bees, and ultimately, medical research. Perhaps we should also make football fields and baseball diamonds smaller, so that athletes who choose not to train won't be taxed "unfairly" by the expected physical exertion.

IMO, lowering the bar and bending the rules in any form of competition so as to handicap those who are unprepared is the true act of racism. We're in essence telling blacks that we recognize their inability to compete, and are willing to force everyone to adhere to their preferences, rather than those established for the competitive arena. We've seen how well this has worked in our high schools, and now we're ready to expand the experiment to universities,as well?

Steve Salerno said...

My sentiments exactly, Ron. I'd always thought that debating is supposed to teach intellectual and emotional discipline; winning through sheer power of thought and rhetoric. Which is why my favorite moment in the piece is when time runs out and the affected debater yells, "Fuck time!" Nice.

Anonymous said...

I think your site displays the "hard bigotry of looking at the world though white eyes". Why is the white debating style the only way? We blacks have a different culture and a different way of engaging and you are wrong to imply that only your way is the right way. We have more passion and we come at things from the point of view that people matter more than ideas. If the ideas don't serve the people then the ideas aren't worth shit, to be blunt. I love the way you attack that debater for wanting to keep making his point though the clock was running out. To you I guess any black man who asserts his right to speak is a dangerous person who has no place in polite society. It doesn't occur to you that maybe some of us are sick of living by white society's rules. That's the same mentality you have here that labels women "bitches" for standing up for their rights. It must really infuriate you that the students in the article won their debate, how dare they give an award to blacks for that!

Finally your attack on hip hop is totally uncalled for, it is a key piece of our culture, our poetry and it expresses the frustration and anger so many of us feel about what has been done to us.

Next time think it through a little more before you speak, you won't sound as ignorant. Same goes for your friend RevRonRants. If that isn't a redneck name I don't know what is.

Steve Salerno said...

That's a really intelligent stance, Anon, to use a term of derogation to reduce someone you know almost nothing about (Ron) to a cliche Are we seeing the black debating style in action?

Jenny said...

I'm encouraged by this article. We need to evolve way beyond our usual ways of communicating. Polite society is a relic of an idea and best left as an amusing conversation piece.

RevRon's Rants said...

When I first entered the dojo, I thought it a waste of time to learn the different movements that were demanded of us. My "cultural experiences" had proved very effective in previous confrontations, and I could see no value in parroting thousand-year-old dance steps. and thought that the discipline required was stupid and irrelevant. That perspective changed somewhat when the sensei - a 65-year-old man who stood barely 5 feet tall effortlessly and repeatedly threw me to the mats. after several years' under his tutelage, I found myself bored when I faced an opponent who lacked mastery of the disciplines at which I had initially scoffed.

If we are to abandon the disciplines expected in debate, why not abandon the disciplines that are expected in other forms of study, as well? Think of the greater "freedom" we would have in pursuing medical research or structural engineering. Sure, there would be a lot of catastrophic failures, but we would be doing our own thing, without having to kowtow to the rules that old men had written.

The core element that our anon is missing is that those disciplines became accepted for reasons far beyond paying homage to old white men, and serve to help us avoid making the same stupid mistakes, over and over. They allow us to grow and learn beyond the realm that our "cultural experiences" can even imagine, and to go on to do greater things than we could, had we refused to first master the basics.

IMO, that refusal is a sign of either intellectual laziness or self-absorption in the extreme. Perhaps both. And sadly, it would appear that some people - such as the judges in the debate you describe - are more concerned with political correctness than with furthering their students' education.

Unknown said...

I have somewhat mixed feelings about this. Perhaps some of the rules need to be updated. However, the judges are not doing their job by allowing and rewarding these off-topic arguements.

If the agreed upon format isn't followed and participants don't argue the agreed-upon topic, that's unfair to those who do follow the format and topic. If I prepare for a debate on cloning, I shouldn't have to debate carbon exchanges instead.

Sharona said...

I doubt Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., Marcus Garvey, Anita Hill (and many other intelligent, eloquent RATIONAL African Americans) would ever shout "Fuck Time." Just sayin'

Steve Salerno said...

I agree, Sharona, and thank you for stopping by. I think the real problem here is the system that seems so determined to bend over backwards to "acknowledge" black culture and customs. We ennoble people by forcing them to reach down and find the best in themselves...not by suggesting to them that they're already perfect as-is. Would you agree with that?

Dimension Skipper said...

Some relevant points made re discussions of race and ethnic diversity...

3 Pitfalls To Avoid When Talking About Race
by Eric Deggans at NPR's Code Switch Blog
April 26, 2014 5:28 AM ET