Pushing the Limits in Debate: Abbie Booker Wins Second Tournament of the Season

BY RHIAN WILLIAMS

Abbie Booker (WDI 2014), a senior at East Kentwood, took home the first place trophy from the Michigan State University high school tournament this weekend. Booker and her partner Michael Obuchi have been consistently demolishing the high school circuit, making MSU their second tournament win of the season. Booker took third place speaker at the Michigan State tournament and her team didn’t

Abbie Booker (WDI 2014) and her partner Michael Obuchi.

Abbie Booker (WDI 2014) and her partner Michael Obuchi.

drop a single ballot in the process.

For Booker, debate is more than just a competitive activity- it’s a way to formulate and implement strategies to challenge the most oppressive structures prevalent in today’s society. In her debates, Booker challenges white cis male domination by running an aff that, as she puts it, “has an emotional appeal to it that fills the room with the power of blackness and black emotion” which “helps us to remember the lives lost to antiblack violence.”

Her team’s negative strategy is a one-off argument that centers black trans women. Booker explains her team’s decision to center the black trans woman as the focal point of her debates: “We feel that black trans women are always at the forefront of movements for other groups, but never have their movements focused on.”

Booker feels that her team’s method of black rage can spill over into other aspects of debater’s lives, allowing a route to challenge the oppressive norms of both debate and the real world. “Black rage can be utilized in the real world for us, it give us the courage to speak out against all oppression, helps us recognize its okay to embrace the extreme emotions of rage to have psychological cleansing, and allows us to challenge cis privilege and center other identities.”

Abbie Booker hopes to leave a lasting impression on the debate community. “I want people to remember the ways that my partners and I pushed the limits of debate in the hopes of making the space more accessible not just for our bodies, but for others as well.”

Speaking on solidarity, Booker explains, “it would be great if other identity debaters practiced this too, stepping outside of their social location, even if it is one of oppression, to bring in other movements as well.”

“People in debate who really know me know that I have come to love my identity, I am proud of my sexuality, race, and gender, and WDI helped my find that love. I just want others to find it for themselves too.”

Congratulations, Abbie!

Rhian Williams is a WDI 2015 Alumn and a Member of the WDI Board of Directors.  If you have alumni news, please let us know.  We’d love to hear from you!