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Morehouse Debate Team Withdraws From Tournament Due to Anti-Black Taunts From White Rival Schools

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Racism is alive and well and still being practiced by students involved in higher education.

According to The Undefeated, Morehouse College, a historically Black college and university (HBCU) withdrew from a debate tournament after members of rival teams mocked them with anti-Black sentiments and disrespect toward the team.

The decision to leave the tournament came after Morehouse participated during Round 5 of the USUDC (The United States Universities Debating Championship) when the Black college was being mocked by members of rival debate teams, including students from the University of Hawaii. The other rival teams were also being disrespectful toward the Morehouse team by turning their cameras on during the time that Morehouse was speaking, which was not allowed given the virtual format of the debate.

It would be a mistake to say this was about one round and one team,” said Morehouse debate coach Kenneth Newby. “It was about anti-Blackness issues within the British Parliamentary debate space.”

When Morehouse decided to pull out of the tournament, other schools followed suit as well, including Spelman College, Clemson University, and Vanderbilt. University. When those schools left the tournament, it was canceled and a public forum took place for students and judges from across the country to discuss their discomfort within the tournament. They were also able to share their own stories of racism that took place during their debate careers.

In a statement released to the public, the USUDC 2021 CAP, Organizing Committee, and Equity Team took responsibility for the way the incident was mishandled.

“We as the USUDC 2021 Organizing Committee, CAP, and Equity team take full responsibility for the anti-Blackness and racism that transpired at the tournament this past weekend. As a team, we want to acknowledge our collective failure to recognize the importance of this equity complaint when it was brought to us and our failure to properly internally communicate about events as they unfolded. As a result we delayed appropriate action and we take full responsibility for the harm caused.”



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