We looked into the archive and here’s what the best black arg pros have to say about how to care and develop oneself.
28 Great Words of Wisdom for Black Argumentation Professionals
#1 Use social networking to your advantage.
You can make connections with other scholars or grad students or use your
social media to build relationships with folks you meet at conference and
professional development opportunities. However you
use your social media you should think of it as an asset in the network game.
#2 Support systems are everything. Recently went through
a job transition from part time argumentation coach to full time assistant
director and it’s not been without challenges. Maintaining a strong support
system of folks who can help mentor, advise and validate me has been essential
to my success in this new position.
– Jyleesa Hampton, ABAP Communications Director
#3 Never underestimate the impact of good
mentorship on your success. Find a good mentor early and be a good mentor when
you get the chance.
#4 Debate is supposed to be fun.
It’s supposed to be competitive. It’s supposed to be hard. It can be a bit
addicting. Don’t let that make you lose sight of what’s important. Your
physical, mental, emotional well being. That’s what’s important. You. I promise
nothing is more important.
– Jalisa Jackson, Assistant Debate Coach at University Texas San Antonio
#5 Don’t let folks convince you that your Blackness isn’t
playing a role in the way things are manifesting. That is for you to examine
and determine. Feel free to consult with others but remember we experience
professional moments very differently based on a number of characteristics, so
trust your gut and don’t let people play you.
– Cydney Edwards, First Vice Chair of ABAP
#6 Patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a
necessity. Beware of anything that comes along too quickly or too easily
because it can often be fool’s gold. Trust in yourself, your inner voice and in
the knowledge and wisdom that got you to where you are, and in the people who
taught you those lessons in the first place. The things that last are the ones
that are often the most difficult to earn. Also, make at least one friend
everywhere you go. You’ll never know how they can help you, or, more
importantly, how you can help them in the future!
– LaTonya K. Starks, Debate Coach at Northwestern University
#7 Being Black alone is hard. Being Black
together is powerful. No one likes to feel alone. Surround yourself with people
over social media, in person, etc !! Knowing you have people around you who get
what you’re going through provides a sense of comfort in an otherwise
– Azja Butler, Assistant Debate Coach at Lansing High
#8 Care about your students beyond debate.
Dont just teach arguments but teach them about life beyond debate.
#9 For new academics, developing a writing
circle with like minded thinkers is an important way to maintain your research
trajectory as you work toward tenure. For those who are considering graduate
schools, do not go to any program that you are not completely sure will have an
effective mentor for you. If there are no black people in a department, realize
that there is likely a reason for that and way your options accordingly.
-Dr. Shanara Reid-Brinkley, Co-Director of Forensics Cal State Fullerton
#10 Keep yourself grounded in the embrace of a
community that loves you and does not need anything from you. There can be an
unaccounted for exhaustion that comes from this work because we all want to
give back to our communities, our work, our students. That work is wonderful
and necessary, but in order to keep going we can’t only be in sacrificial mode.
You are a fragile being in need of the support you give to others. For that
reason I stress that you have to be connected to a loving group of people or an
individual that simply loves you for you and not what you give to them or do
for them. Maintain some love for yourself and replenish the spirit you give to
-Nicholas Brady, PhD
#11 Mirror the behaviors of those who hold the
positions you want. I followed my mentor on LinkedIn for weeks and went back on
her posts to see how she got where she was. Over a few months, I started making
similar moves and gave her credit. She became a client and referred me to other
professionals who paid me (very well) for my development services. Making the
transition from nonprofit expert to financial coach would have been much more
difficult if I hadn’t used her resume as a starting point. Don’t be afraid to
charge more than your competitors. Don’t be afraid to wear your natural hair.
Don’t be afraid to bring other Black people to the table so we can all eat. Get
a mentor (IRL or online) and make those money moves.
-Shauntrice Martin, Lnee R+D CEO
#12 Mediocrity is not Acceptable: No matter
your course in life, run it well. No matter how you mess up, have enough
humility to admit. No matter how they try to deter you, demand your dreams are
-Ms.T, Founder of University of Debate
#13 The transition from being a debater to
becoming a coach can be a difficult one. Your natural tendency is to teach
students engage in the type of debate you practiced. If you were successful,
you tend to think your style of debate was successful. While that may have been
true for you, that style of debate may not be a successful strategy for others.
It is important to coach students to become the best versions of themselves and
not the best version of you. This requires a great deal of flexibility from a
coach and a great deal of patience, but the potential results are limitless in
terms of competitive production.
-Michael Barlow, Assistant Debate coach at UTAustin
#14 Black excellence
requires navigation and perspective. When you see inertia in your workplace, be
aware that same system may open doors for experimenting with innovative ideas
unhindered. When power structures appear to be insurmountable barriers,
recognize how your performance may benefit them substantially and assess
honestly if you need to ask permission first or simply show them amazing
results that they are excited to claim. American history means that the way
forward for black folks may not match the standard blueprint. Don’t be afraid
to think about what your path could look like and then carefully carve out that
transformation to achieve black excellence in impactful ways.
-Will Baker, Chief Information Officer, BCA LLC
#15 Whatever you are striving for as a way to succeed, you first have to embrace losing – The ability to understand how to move forward first starts with a reality check. As a coach, we often preach the importance of competitive success. Some debate coaches tend to equate success through wins and losses. For those coaches, they are losing the point. Losing is a reminder that there is work that needs to be done; a reason to continue striving in the pursuit of executing a particular argument strategy. Winning is not more than an affirmation that the strategy worked. Nothing more and nothing less.
#16 To learn, you sometimes have to feel – This stems from a piece of advice that was shared by my very first debate coach, my mother. Mom always taught the importance of embracing mistakes as a way of learning. She often explained that “to learn, you have to feel”. To her, it is understanding how her moments of disappointments could open an opportunity for redemption. One time, she mentioned a track race that she ran when she was a high school track athlete. In a race that she was sure to win, she was seconds away from clinching the “W” until she accidentally tripped on her shoes and fell. She lost. Afterward, she walked away knowing that she had to work and train and try again and it started because she got up and stood up on her own two feet. Knowing how it felt to be both embarrassed by the accident and deprived of a win, it naturally inspired her to train harder. My mom ended by noting that in her last race, she didn’t win the race. But at least she was able to finish the race without tripping.
#17 Don’t knock it until you try it – One of
the greatest fears about taking risks when it comes to progress stems from our
inability to being uncomfortable. When we see something that is unknown creates
a sense of fear where taking risks and challenging one’s self with a particular
goal is foreign. Instead… don’t knock it until you try it. Get uncomfortable
when it comes to learning a new skill, taking on a new job, completing a task
that is so challenging that failure looms from behind. You will be surprised
what one’s success it when you just take the leap of faith by simply trying,
even if you fail.
– Aubrey Semple Program Director & ABAP HS Executive Secretary
#18 Be comfortable pushing the boundary and
defining your worth in a way that exceeds your current expectation. Frequently
we underestimate our value and thus allow others to do the same.
– Anthony Ogbuli, ABAP Treasurer
#19 Fitting in is hard. Feeling like you belong is harder. As you begin your next journey in life recognize that from the C-Suite to the mailroom you deserve to be there. You are worth it and if someone says different recognize that the only folks who aren’t accomplishing things have time to hate!
#20 Professionalism is just hustlin’ in a new environment. Use your natural swag and blackness to illuminate bleak and bland spaces.
#21 The most important thing in life is time.
It is something that everyone demands from you, something that you have a
finite amount of and something that you can’t get back. Invest in yourself
first, second and third and then punch the clock!
-Benjamin Hagwood, Chair of ABAP
#22 Trust your instincts and report incidents to HR.
#23 Networking matters. So while you don’t have to socialize with your co-workers think about attending company events, programs as a way of making new connections. You’ll be surprised by how many opportunities come your way when you have a strong network.
#24 You are not an imposter. Believe it and
-Jyleesa Hampton, Communications Director of ABAP
#25 “Don’t let a win get to your head or a loss get to your heart” – This quote hangs in the squadroom at Emporia State University. I remember as a freshman, I stared at it confused of its meaning. Eventually, I just start to ignore it all together. Until a bad loss came and I wanted to give up on debate. My coach told me to go look at the sign and figure out its meaning. It was in that moment where I recognized its true purpose. Victory tends to make people egotistical and they start working less because they think they have conquered it but never seem to recognize that the target becomes so much bigger when you’re at the top. People will literally come for you in debate, for your reputation, and for your life. On the other hand, losses make us think that we did not do enough, and that our work was misguided when in fact, I learned more from my defeats than I did from my victories. Competition does not make or break you. It is how you choose to compete.
-Ryan Wash, Director of Debate, Weber State University
#26 Humility has a huge place in professional
growth. Don’t fear what you don’t know or not having the ability to complete
something. There was a lot of opportunity and room for development when I
started to ask, “No I don’t know that, but could you explain it a little for
-Cydney Edwards, First Vice Chair of ABAP
#27 Success is a journey not a destination.
#28 Create your own support networks.
Organizations that offer special professional development for your profession,
like ABAP, can help provide a sense of community and beneficial resources.