Whenever I hear someone start their 1NC with Settler Colonialism, my stomach sinks. It essentially leaves me, an Indigenous woman, with two options- reveal my ethnicity or argue against Indigenous issues. Both of these are bad for me, and thus far I have gone with the latter. Why? Because Indigenous people are not treated with the same respect in any community, and certainly not in the debate community. Sett Col is just making it worse.
First, let’s get one thing straight. Non-Indigenous people reading Indigenous issues to win is inherently colonizing and an irony that many of you don’t seem to understand. Many of you say, “But I just want to raise awareness of Indigenous issues,” but I find that hard to believe. Your activism ends with the win you get from using our issues. Even for the few people who perhaps do run it to raise awareness, you are greatly outnumbered. But, if you are truly running this just to raise awareness; first, you are not; and second, take the loss. If you are truly a hero here to raise awareness (also, white savior much), take the loss. Show that you are so invested in raising awareness that you are willing to lose every round. Read it on both sides and on every topic, even if it would be an automatic loss. But you don’t.
Next, the reading of this K is harmful to Indigenous people for two reasons. The first is fostering resentment. I think that debaters losing to the Sett Col K is fostering resentment towards actual Indigenous people in the community. It isn’t vocalized necessarily, but it adds to implicit biases. The second is desensitization to Indigenous issues. The more we hear things, the less sensitive we are to them. Because of the amount of non-Indigenous debaters reading this K, people are becoming desensitized to actual issues, which is detrimental for all Indigenous people. Additionally, when you read these huge policy cases full of Indigenous suffering, it inherently becomes normalized and harms Indigenous people.
At the end of the day, we listen to Black debaters saying to not run afropess, so listen to us when we say stop reading Sett Col. Stop using our suffering for your ballot. It’s gross.
Note: The Beyond Resolved blog reflects the ideas of individual authors and not necessarily of the organization as a whole.