Friday, April 4, 2014

The fierce urgency of now and the long game

I think a lot of what prompts conversations like the one going on between Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jonathan Chait comes down to whether or not we prioritize the fierce urgency of now or the long game of systemic change.

I thought it might be interesting to listen to the voices of a couple of other black men who articulate each of these approaches. On the former, here's Daniel Beaty.


Back in the 1980's we abandoned the War on Poverty and beefed up the War on Drugs. As a result, we are now seeing the 3rd and 4th generation of too many black boys growing up waiting for that "knock, knock"... struggling with whether or not prison is simply written into their destiny as well. Unfortunately, they face that question in the fierce urgency of now and don't have the privilege of waiting until we implement the long game of systemic change. And so Beaty talks about the power to change this world one little boy and girl at a time.

But...you might say...Daniel made it. Ah, yes. But listen to what Geoffrey Canada says about that.


The resilience of the exceptional (or those who - like President Obama - grew up in a "more forgiving environment") is not enough. As Canada says, at some point we have to change the conditions these children face on a regular basis. 

Anytime someone suggests that President Obama's My Brother's Keeper initiative is not enough, I agree. That's why his administration is also working on things like ending the school-to-prison pipeline and the war on drugs.

Its not about choosing between the fierce urgency of now and the long game. We need to do both.  

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