Take your time young man...

The incomparable Kojo Nnamdi (those of you in the D.C. area know him well) makes a pretty good point about the arrogance of youth:

Hey Ta Nehisi,

I only have one observation on your blog post "More stupid hand wringing over Nigger." It's the sentence "I will believe that till the end of my days" in reference to the use of nigger by black people as a lovely, lovely thing.

I'm here to tell you that at your age, you have no idea what you will believe till the end of your days. I used to think that I would believe in Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, Nkrumahism, socialism, Marxism/Leninism ,revolution, and Gil Scott-Heron's "The Revolution Will Not be Televised" for the rest of my days. But as you get older, the world changes. Like the brutal excesses and the fall of socialism in Eastern Europe, your world view changes, and if it doesn't, you'll find yourself clinging to outdated ideas and futilely trying to apply them to a changed reality.

You  don't want to practice nostalgia ideology, as too many of my friends do today, stubbornly insisting that they'll ultimately convince black folks, and the world, of the correctness of positions they held in the sixties and seventies.

BTW, I still love "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised," but no longer delude myself that black people are in a revolutionary situation.

One love,


Kojo is old friend of my Dad's. Word has it they met while battling over space at event where both of them were trying to sell books. This was in the era when so many of us thought that all the world's knowledge could be found in the latest Chancellor Williams. Of course Kojo is correct, and should know because my father, while influenced by his activist youth, certainly isn't the same man he was in his Black Panther days. I sometimes get carried away. The older I get, the less this happens. But still, every once awhile the old ego slips in.