One of the key and central concepts in Black Faces in White Places is the “game.” What is the “game?” The word itself is subject to multiple interpretations:
- It can be a noun meaning “ability” as in, “He got game,” as evidenced Spike Lee’s movie featuring Denzel Washington and Ray Allen, or “She’s got game,” once used to describe U.N. ambassador and Rhodes Scholar, Dr. Susan Rice.
- It can be a verb meaning to “cheat” or “take advantage of,” as in, “Don’t try to game me.”
- It can be an adjective meaning “ready and able,” as in, “I’m game,” or “She’s game.”
References to the “game” have become a popular culture phenomenon. You see countless references to the word on websites (i.e. “Up your grilling game” on CNN.com), in the media (i.e. there is a television show, a rapper, and a movie, all called “The Game”), on magazine covers (i.e. “Game On” from the cover of AMTRAK’s Arrive magazine), and even in Randal’s e-Newsletter, “Elevate Your Game.”
A common definition of game is “activity engaged in for diversion or amusement.” This is perhaps the furthest from the use of the word in Black Faces in White Places, as the authors in no way intend to trivialize the very serious issues raised in the book. To the contrary, they use “game” to refer to a very specific phenomenon. The closest definition of their usage of the word “game” comes from Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, which defines game as “any activity undertaken or regarded as a contest involving rivalry, strategy, or struggle.” More specifically, in Black Faces in White Places, the “game” is defined as “any activity undertaken to pursue personal and professional pathways to greatness involving rivalry, strategy, or struggle, that are governed by a collection of spoken and, more often, unspoken rules.”
Along these lines, there is a “game of politics.” There are activities in the political realm that must be undertaken in order to achieve success — being elected or re-elected to office. These activities involve rivalry, strategy, and struggle. There is a “game of corporate America” where success can be defined as becoming an executive. There is a “game of entrepreneurship” where success can be defined as generating millions, if not billions of dollars in revenue. And there is even a “game of education” where success can be defined as achieving good grades and being accepted to an institution of higher learning. In short, the “game” refers to the competitive world in which we all live and work. It permeates almost every level of human interaction. Whether the contest is social, political, economic, physical, or academic, the universal truth is that there are winners and losers in every game.
This truth drives and motivates people to hone and perfect their skills; to “up their game” and establish their own unique competitive advantage. Such drive fosters dedication to their chosen craft, thus yielding the kind of results that propel strong contenders to “beat others at their own game.”
Some people are naturally drawn to a contest, as seen by the international appeal of sports. Those that emerge victorious are often idolized. Rising stars that show great promise are praised as “having game.” Veterans that reach the zenith of their careers are said to be at the “top of their game.”
Quotes About “The Game”
“If life doesn’t offer a game worth playing, then invent a new one.”
—Anthony J. D’Angelo
“If past history was all there was to the game, the richest people would be librarians.”
“Never change a winning game; always change a losing one.”
“Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.”
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
“No coach has ever won a game by what he knows; it’s what his players know that counts.”
“Change the game; don’t let the game change you.”
—Drs. Randal Pinkett and Jeffrey Robinson
There are times when the game must evolve. Landscapes change and catalysts step in to rewrite the rules. These catalysts are game-changers; pioneers who break barriers and blaze trails. Black Faces in White Places seeks to honor game changers of the past and inspire game changers of the future. Just as the pawn advances forward to become a powerful piece in chess, today’s generation has the capacity to join the upper echelon of whatever game they choose to compete in. They just need to make the right moves and Black Faces in White Places is their roadmap. It is required reading for any change agent.
Based on interviews with dozens of prominent African Americans, Black Faces in White Places challenges readers to not just change the game, but to redefine the game that governs our society and controls the distribution of wealth and power. The authors — Randal Pinkett and Jeffrey Robinson with Philana Patterson — argue that it is up to this generation to take the helm and continue the legacy of pioneers who paved the way for those who would come after.
So, are you looking for ways to elevate your game? Do you want to be a game changer? Are you ready to redefine the game? If the answer is “Yes,” to all of these questions, then all you have to do is read Black Faces in White Places and you will learn exactly how to do it!