Students from community colleges in Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts were adjudged winners last Friday in the much-spirited Evening Program debate in the Leeward Islands Debating Competition (LIDC) at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College.
The opposition team of Kelsey Harris and Kamilah Parker (Antigua and Barbuda), and Philmon Roberts (St. Kitts) eclipsed the proposition team of Dwayne Griffith and D’shnay Matthew York (St. Maarten) and Zipporah Bannister (Anguilla) in the two-hour debate at the college’s Edison O. Jackson Auditorium. The debate moot was: “The marginalization of men has led to the breakdown of Caribbean society.”
The debate, which also had a morning segment, was organized by Medgar Evers College’s Caribbean Research Center (CRC), headed by Dean Dr. George Irish, a native of the Leeward Island of Montserrat, and the LIDC Foundation.
Dr. Irish had started the annual LIDC in 1972, at 29, when he was the head of the Montserrat Open Campus Branch of the University of the West Indies (UWI), as “a medium for cultivating the intellectual and civic awareness of students, and preparing them for future leadership.”
The first debate took place in Montserrat with four debaters from Antigua and Montserrat: Franklyn Michael and Kennedy Edwards (Antigua and Barbuda), and Jennifer Greenaway and Pearl Ryner (Montserrat).
In Friday evening’s debate, the opposition team decried the proponent’s claim that the marginalization of men has led to the breakdown of Caribbean society, saying that it was “completely false.”
“For men to be marginalized, they have to be not active in society,” the opposition contended, stating instead that women are the ones who are at “a disadvantage in the labor market.
“How are men more marginalized when they hold higher positions?” the team asked. “Every prime minister [in the Caribbean], at this point, is a male. Men have excelled and continue to excel.”
The opposition team pointed to arguments that show that women are the ones who have been marginalized, stating that this has taken place since the 15th century.
“Saying that men are marginalized is absurd,” the team declared. “We stand resolute in our claim that the marginalization of men has not led to the breakdown on Caribbean society.”
The opposition noted that the breakdown in Caribbean values “stems from the breakdown of family values,” adding that the Caribbean has “long suffered from the illegal drug trade.”
But the proposition team maintained that the marginalization of men is “most conspicuous in Caribbean society,” blaming slavery for leaving “a disgusting image.”
“Men were indoctrinated, forced to be marginalized,” the team posited. “Control and condition are just the belief of women. Do not blame men for any marginalization.
“We cannot only look at the men,” the proposition added. “We expect men to act in a macho way. If not, they will feel oppressed.”
“You are part of the future,” Dean Irish told the debaters. “I want to publish a book on the history of the debate. Send me what you have, and I’ll transfer it into a gold mine.”
The first LIDC debate was held at Medgar Evers College in 1998, with participants from Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda and Anguilla.
Chief judge Dr. Ken Irish-Bramble, a professor at Medgar Evers College and Dean Irish’s eldest son, said the judges were “particularly impressed with the creativity in putting together coherent arguments.
“You come with something fresh, different,” said Irish-Bramble, who, as a youth, had also participated in the annual LIDC in Montserrat. “We also saw the issue of humor and good, friendly jabs.”
Dr. Sheilah M. Paul, associate dean, School of Liberal Arts and Education at Medgar Evers College, said the debaters reminded her of “the power of developing and honing important skills in young people, as they prepare to take their places in our 21st century global work force.
“Your being here, in this experience, provides another window to a deeper understanding of culturally responsive education, particularly in a widely diverse learning community, such as Central Brooklyn,” said the Tobago native.
CRC said the LIDC involves extensive team research, critical thinking and public speaking skills.
CRC also said that it is “moving to revive the debating tradition here at Medgar Evers College to engage our students in similar intellectual exercises across disciplines.”