Week On the second day of this


Week 2: Be Aggressive;
Be Be Aggressive … Is for Guys ONLY

Journal – I just want to give you a heads up because I am about to go on a
rant! As I mentioned last week, one of my passions revolves around debating,
especially now as a debate coach (specifically, High School Public Forum). And
not to brag, but my entire team has been killing it this season, with multiple tournament
entries reaching elimination rounds at practically every tournament we attend.

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However, at most of these tournaments, my debaters face one specific bias that
continues to discourage them: the fact that they are girls. I coach an
all-girls debate team here in Houston, and we travel around Texas for
tournaments every weekend, including last weekend. On the second day of this
tournament, my debaters received another judge ballot with some discouraging
comments – nothing new for them as they typically received these comments
verbally. But now, these comments were written down, for them and myself to
continuously stare at:

“Affirmative Speaker 1 (girl): You
should calm down and be less emotional during the
cross-examination period. Affirmative Speaker 2 (girl): You also showed emotion
during the round. Negative Speakers 1& 2 (males): Great job being
persuasive. You showed emotion and aggressiveness throughout the round
– good job! The reason for decision (RFD in debate lingo): I voted NEG
because the boys sounded more persuasive. The girls
were a bit too emotional and aggressive in the round, making
their arguments less persuasive and articulate.”

Attempts to resolve this issue
with the tournament directors resulted in their continued justification for
judge decisions like what my debaters received – a half-serious apology
followed by a “but” explanation to justify inaction to prejudice. I am just
angry about what happened – angry that my debaters have to go through this and
angry that tournament directors continue to use the “but justification” in
response. The world of high school debate contains racist and sexist prejudices
and barriers, despite the amount of success minority debate teams have had over
the years, especially in the past decade.

Interestingly, Allport in Chapter
2 of The Nature of Prejudgment makes
several points that I thought about after coming home from the tournament. First,
the idea of separation helps explain a bit of the initial thought/bias
processes as well as the willingness of inaction. Allport finds that “we find comfort
and ease in our own class” whether it be race, economic class, and in the
example above, sex/gender (18). This separation leads to the categorization,
which acts as the base for prejudgment. Moreover, I actually discussed the idea
of separation in my Art & Activism class with Dr. Sharim; recently, the
class read an excerpt from Sister
Outsider by Audrey Lorde, a black lesbian poet and activist, who explained
that individuals should “not hide behind the mockeries of separations that have
been imposed upon us and which so often we accept as our own,” yet we tend to
do so because Allport points out the human nature associated with separation (Lorde

Allport goes on to explain the
role personal values have in affecting prejudices. The action of affirming our
beliefs comes through affirming our way of life in what Spinoza calls “love-prejudice.”
Prejudice that people immediately think of (hate-prejudice) initially starts
out with wanting to protect their way of life. I guess when relating this
analysis to my debaters, the tournament director and the judge might have
wanted to protect what proper debate means to them?


I'm James!

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