Friday, August 15, 2008
Race and Passion in College Debate
At the 2008 CEDA National Tournament, Bill Shanahan's teams struck a judge because she had previously given them low speaker points. Well, apparently judge and coach Shanara Reid-Brinkley took it personally and politically as an attack on African-American women in general. In a quarterfinal round at the tournament, the team debating against Fort Hays used the strike as evidence that their opponents were upholding white, male supremacy in debate. Both Bill Shanahan and Shanara Reid-Brinkley were in the room as the judges announced their decision -- a 2-1 against Fort Hays. The judges explained their decision, but apparently there was some nonverbal exchange between Shanahan and Reid-Brinkley during the process. It seems that Bill was scowling or otherwise looking pissed off when one of the debaters was talking after the decision, Reid-Brinkley made some sort of nonverbal gestures as well, and Shanahan challenged her. She complained that he was "walking around doing stuff" and argued that he had no right to be in the room expressing his emotions about the round. Anyone who knows Bill could have predicted what happened next -- he was outraged that someone was telling him what to do and he therefore escalated the situation. Reid-Brinkley also had a hair trigger, and the two were soon "debating" in profanities and even a bare ass. This Higher Ed article describes what followed. Of course, it is far more interesting to watch the video.