Critical Race Theory Brief


Critical Race Theory Brief


NSD's Critical Race Theory Brief includes these three essays:

Existentialism and Black Philosophies of Existence by Alex Yoakum

Debating Values: On the Survival of Black Feminine Voice by Ameena Ruffin

When You Try but Keep on Dying: A Black Nihilistic Analysis of the Debate Space by Christian Quiroz

Each article will walk you through an argument, explain the function of the argument in the larger narrative or syllogism, and give a defense of the argument against possible objections. Additional resources, such as bibliographies and evidence, are also provided to assist you in constructing the position. To best maximize the potential of the positions advanced in this brief, you should keep in mind that the purpose of the brief is to provide you with an introductory understanding of certain theories and their possible applications in debate. We highly recommend for our readers to experiment with constructing their own versions of the positions and to use our brief as an assistant in understanding the original sources.

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Featured in this Brief

“Existentialism and Black Philosophies of Existence” by Alex Yoakum

“This guide has two main purposes: first, it attempts to define and clear up the theoretical concepts that characterize Black Existentialism, and, second, speak to its potential applications within debate. This paper will argue that Black Existentialism provides a powerful alternative means of conceptualizing oppression and the lived experiences of Black people.”

 “Debating Values: On the Survival of Black Feminine Voice” by Ameena Ruffin

“This article serves as a guide for the construction and defense of arguments which problematize the effect of privileged values—uncritical declarations of justice, the maximization of good, human rights, or individual freedom—on the participation, creative thought, and embodied voice of Black feminine folks in debate. This article will present an overview of three positions which argue in some way for the revaluation of Black feminine voice.”

“When You Try but Keep on Dying: A Black Nihilistic Analysis of the Debate Space” by Christian Quiroz

“Perhaps one of the most provocative theories of modernity, black nihilism, is a necessary educational practice for understanding the problem of antiblack violence and how to orient oneself towards the historicity of antiblackness. This article will aim to explain black nihilism and its theoretical applications to debate.”

Authors of this Brief

Alex Yoakum

Alex Yoakum graduated from Grapevine High School in 2015. In his senior year he qualified to the TOC, receiving his bids from Greenhill and Minneapple, as well as reaching several bid rounds throughout his debate career. He also participated in the Greenhill and Bronx Round Robins. Currently, Alex is a philosophy and comparative literature double major at Emory University. In addition to his academics, he has presented papers on Queer Theory in undergraduate literature and philosophy conferences. This will be Alex's third year teaching at NSD, and he is looking forward to another great summer in Minneapolis and San Antonio. 

Debate interests: Critical Race Theory, Queer Theory, Moral philosophy, postmodernism



Ameena Ruffin

Ameena Ruffin began competitive debate in 2008 at the Baltimore City College in Baltimore, MD. Since then, Ameena has debated, taught, and judged various styles and levels of debate across the country. In 2014, Ameena and partner won the Cross-Examination Debate Association National Tournament. Ameena continues to teach and judge debate while perusing an M.A. in Education Leadership and Curriculum Development at Towson University.



Christian Quiroz

Christian debated in LD and Policy for Newark Science (NJ) for four years. In LD, he qualified to the TOC his junior and senior year (was top speaker his senior year), won the Ridge tournament, was the co-champion of Scarsdale and Berkeley, and made it to late elimination rounds at Glenbrooks, Lexington, Emory, Harvard, NDCA, and TOC. In Policy, he broke at Scranton and Lakeland his junior and senior year. Christian debates College Policy at Rutgers-Newark.