Who Can Talk The Talk? Howard v. Hampton Student Debate

(Photo Credit: Paul Holston)

(Photo Credit: Paul Holston)

By Paul Holston

The intense rivalry between Howard University and Hampton University will forever be a historical competition within the HBCU community. Whenever these two schools come together, the question is always asked, “Who is the REAL H-U?” 

The “Battle for the Real H-U,” which dates back to 1908, is not only on the football field during the fifth annual AT&T Nation’s Classic at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium this year, but is hashed out on the debate stage. Four representatives from both schools’ respective debates teams went head-to-head in a timely and important Howard U v. Hampton U Student Debate on Sept. 18 at Cramton Auditorium. Howard had the obvious home-team advantage, but Hampton held their ground against the favored Bison as the two debated the controversial topics of respectability politics and Hip-Hop culture.

Two important compositions, “Blacks Should Apply Respectability Politics As A Response To Racial Violence” and “Hip-Hop Culture Negatively Influences African-American Youths” were the topics discussed during the passionate debate. Gracie Lawson-Borders, dean of Howard University’s School Of Communication, said it best about the importance of the debate.

“The debate is an opportunity to showcase the educational and inspirational talent of argumentation for both HBCUs,” Lawson-Borders said.

The arguments following her introduction were very thought provoking, but also a bit challenging for some debaters. The first topic, “Blacks Should Apply Respectability Politics As A Response To Racial Violence,” was an exceptional argumentative back and forth between Howard and Hampton. Hampton began with their affirmation discussing the misconceptions of respectability politics and the “ugly truth,” defined by them as a validity that is painful to accept, but one must accept it.

Hampton expanded on the founding of the respectability politics by women in the Black church during the early 20th century, which was used as a political tactic to uplift the Black community with a sense of solidarity. Hampton also expressed that if people confirm with respectability politics, one should do it for themselves and the Black community’s respect amongst each other.

Howard responded proclaiming that respectability is false, as it does not support the Black community and does not save oneself from being profiled, whether by the color of skin or by one’s social class.

“Respectability will not save us, and that is the ugly truth. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. died in a suit,” said the Howard debate team. The response had the crowd in a fiery uproar with applauses and agreements ringing throughout the auditorium as the opposition Hampton’s team looked at Howard’s team with discontent.

The second topic, “Hip-Hop Culture Negatively Influences African-American Youths” was another round dominated by Howard’s debate team. Hampton once again began with the affirmation of the argument, but failed to execute in delivering their argument strongly due to what seemed to be nervousness and fast-talking during the second round.

Howard responded a bit more relaxed as the Howard debater spoke to the audience of Hip-Hop being “a part of who we are…it is our culture.” The debater continued to emphasize on Hip-Hop being a “reflection of our reality” and a uplifting to African-American people. Hampton tried to counter with bringing up the failure of trap music neglecting Hip-Hop’s “culture,” which was their only counterattack, but Howard was too strong with their responses by sharing lyrics from songs such “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash, “I Can” by Nas and “U.N.I.T.Y” by Queen Latifah, solidifying their perspective.

The debate between Howard and Hampton was thoroughly impressive, displaying the impressive and well-crafted thoughts and arguments of the student participants.

There was no winner or loser, as one’s decision on who won the debate is left up to spectators. Therefore, the “Battle for the Real H-U” continues to thrive on, with great anticipation for the next Howard v. Hampton meeting.

[Story was Published in Howard University’s “The Hilltop” Student Newspaper 21Sept2015]

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