Sense of urgency — White Supremacy Culture

The Sense of Urgency


What Dr. Okun says about a sense of urgency


  • continued sense of urgency that makes it difficult to take time to be inclusive, encourage democratic and/or thoughtful decision-making, to think long-term, to consider consequences
  • frequently results in sacrificing potential allies for quick or highly visible results, for example sacrificing interests of communities of color in order to win victories for white people (seen as default or norm community)
  • reinforced by funding proposals which promise too much work for too little money and by funders who expect too much for too little


  • realistic workplans;
  • leadership which understands that things take longer than anyone expects;
  • discuss and plan for what it means to set goals of inclusivity and diversity, particularly in terms of time;
  • learn from past experience how long things take;
  • write realistic funding proposals with realistic time frames;
  • be clear about how you will make good decisions in an atmosphere of urgency;
  • realize that rushing decisions takes more time in the long run because inevitably people who didn’t get a chance to voice their thoughts and feelings will at best resent and at worst undermine the decision because they were left unheard

A snippet from Anna & Katrina; Urgency and Picture Impact


Now what?

  • Setting expectations internally and with clients about our operating hours
  • Checking in with each other when we feel a sense of urgency about the reality of that urgency. Feeling urgency is something to be noticed and to not stay with alone, but bring to the light and discuss to gain perspective and re-gain choice.
  • We are actively and consistently calling out and communicating, at the RFP and response stage, about projects that cannot be completed with the offered LoE and projects that cannot be completed in the desired timeframe. We either send a note before bidding and/or we put forth a proposal outside of the bounds within the RFP and discuss our reasons for doing so. We are committed to not overpromising or pretending about actual timelines.
  • We are each working with coaches, who have dug into our “to do” lists. Helping us notice and calibrate our expectations of what can actually be done in a specific time period and not using these lists to perpetuate a sense of failure or to exist outside the bounds of human possibility — you all know what I mean, the two-week long “to do” list that is for Monday!

Case Study



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Picture Impact

Picture Impact

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