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VISION-An NDT perspective
To Melissa, Bill, Dave and Kate, this is a message of honor, respect and
love. The symbolic meaning for me, the lone African-American debate coach
in NDT to a program that has meant so much to diversity in NDT should not
go unrecognized. You folks epitomize everything that is right about our
activity. It has and will always be an honor to have the opportunity to
participant with a program that has consistently broken down barriers and
taken an active role in acting, whether within debates or not, upon their
beliefs. As Gordon Mitchell stood in the hall, giving us a context for
acting on things we "say" are important, as the NDT and CEDA communities
took a historic leap of faith this weekend, Emory University was
representing a commitment that we at Louisville strive to achieve,
"Excellence through Diversity." Please continue your commitment to
empowering many voices whether its a question of race, gender, class, or
even, a type of debate.
The joyous celebration Monday evening prompted much introspection for me
personally, on not only my place in this activity, but in terms of coming
to grips with the duality of my love/hate relationship with the NDT (and
soon to be the CEDA/NDT communities).
I love the people in our activity. I feel "comfortable" in this
environment. I sat back and watched a marvelous drama unfold and as it
went down, my alligences, however temporal, evoked the sincerest emotions.
I was rooting for everyone. Could McCaffity make the third time the
charm? Would fate and love (as well as a ton of good cards, talented
debaters and a remarkable coaching staff) carry Iowa to its first national
championship? Rayburn's 2NR intro left not a dry eye in the ballroom.
What about my contempories? Should I root for the Bears because I'm in
love with Leeper, Bruscke and the most likable squad in America? But
wait, my former assistant and my fantasy baseball colleague are in the
other semi? Coach Smith from North Carolina (Winston-Salem, that is) has
taken me under his wing and taught me "the game." What about the Green
Machine? I got much love for the only African-American to win a speaker
award, even if his name is "Dre". But Ziggy's gone thirty years without a
championship, I just gotta' root for Wayne State don't I? What about my
own teams? When the day was over, all I could think about is how much I
LOVE these people, ALL of them. The NBA said it best, "I love this game."
At the same time, when I looked around the room and saw very few faces
like mine, I was deeply saddened and began to question my assumptions
about why I participate in this activity. Were Andre and I "selling out"
our community to become part of another community? Does the debate
community really care about these issues or is all the talk just a good
front? Do I push my agenda too often? Why do I feel alone in pushing my
agenda? Why did I have such a newfound respect for Gordon and Allison for
their "actions" and not their "words" out in the hallway? Does my
fondness for Clay, Krsna, Billy V., Andre, Clarence and a few others,
speak to my own personal racism or my awareness? When I saw Kate Schuster
being surrounded, hugged and loved, by several of the prominent women in
our activity (its been a decade since a woman has been victorious at the
NDT), how could I not help but wonder when I would have the same
opportunity to hug one of "my" own? Did I want to be a member of the NDT
final round judging panel for my own self-interest, disregarding whether
or not I was qualified, in an effort to become another symbolic event
during the glorious weekend of the "50th"? Or did I simply want to make
yet another statement exclaiming that the NDT had another example of
"excellence through diversity"? These are some of the many thoughts that
raced through my head as I watched the evening unfold.
Looking for answers, I found them in the most unlikeliest of places. A
discussion at the Survivors party begin. While the disscusion was diverse
(men, women, CEDA backgrounds, a variety of races, etc), I was surrounded
by predominantly white men who could easily have said ALL THE WRONG
THINGS. However, these men had compassion, empathy and DAMN good arguments.
ALL of my questions, fears and thoughts were addressed. I have a better
understanding of MY purpose and if you were there, thank you.
Now why do I send this to the CEDA community? Because I believe that the
current NDT power structure that some in CEDA perceive to be these evil
beings out to destroy Golilith, are misinformed. My story is just one
example of the level of concern and caring that does exist in the NDT
community. I attended the NDT meeting and I believe there is a widespread
agreement that it is geniune. Do I believe that the NDT community is
protecting itself? Sure, the amendments to the amendments speak for
themselves. But who has more to lose here? I still believe that large NDT
programs have the most to lose if CEDA is true "alternative" for small NDT
schools. Yet, it was the Michigan's, Wake Forest's, Northwestern's and
Dartmouths that made the most eloquent arguments for this when crunch time
arrived. This could very easily be the first step in destroying the NDT
community, rendering the existing power brokers irrelevant. But these
conspiracy theories in CEDA make absolutely no sense. If the NDT woos a
substantial number of programs away from CEDA, I be extremely surprised.
NDT debates the CEDA topic and all the CEDA schools go back to the NDT?
If it did happen, then it might suggest that there was a small advantage
to format types of things like times, etc., although these arguments have
been beaten down over and over again. I believe that the worst scenario
is that everyone stays where they are and it doesn't work. However, the
chance of the best scenario, that we find that we have many more
simlarities than differences, can find acceptable middle-grounds and can
foster a cooperative environment are worth the risk.
There was remorse by some of the older folk that actions should have and
could have been taken to have prevented the split from ever occurring.
After the meeting, discussions were occurring regarding the travel
schedules and "when were the CEDA tournies." I would define the
sentiment as "cautious optimism" and not a "plot to overthrow the
Finally, I am hoping (in response to Will's statement) that CEDA take the
lead in teaching us about their success regarding diversity issues and I
believe that many on our side have similar concerns. If I did not, then I
would leave. I think our current actions offer at least one issue (albeit
a very important one for me), for cooperation and education on both sides,
whether we merge or not. NDT has a long way to go, maybe CEDA can help.
Give Peace a chance...
Archive created by Jonathan Stanton (email@example.com)
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