n light of the recent violent deaths of three black Americans — Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd — at the hands of current and former police officers in the United States, we wanted to deepen our discussion of race and racism and how we as Integralists can contribute to change by becoming powerful anti-racists in our own circles of influence.
This is an imperative and pressing need for the future well-being of our culture. And while this conversation is primarily looking at this problem in the context of American racial violence and injustice, it will surely have relevance to our global integral audience.
The Integral community includes tens and even hundreds of thousands of people all across the globe — but, due to something we might call “developmental privilege”, remains predominately white. In this conversation we are joined by three prominent black integralists: Greg Thomas, Mark Palmer, and Gabriel Wilson, each of whom are Integral consultants, writers, and coaches, and who have important perspectives on this urgent issue that concerns us all.
Watch as we discuss ideas central to anti-racism work like white fragility and social privilege, and include Integral insights like the dangers of ethno-centrism, the role of emotions and emotional maturity in anti-racism work, and the advantages of inhabiting multiple perspectives to inform better action. We look at immediate and long-term actions so we can contribute effectively to positive changes in culture — individually, collectively, in our hearts and in our institutions and systems — to realize our Integral longing for racial justice.
Previous Episodes of Integral Justice Warrior
Accountability Matters: A Call for Ethics, Empathy, and Equality
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About Diane Hamilton
Diane is a uniquely gifted, playful, and awake group facilitator, consultant and teacher of Integral Spirituality and Zen. She is a lineage holder in the Soto Zen tradition, and has collaborated with the Integral Institute and Ken Wilber since 2004, developing the Integral Life Practice seminars and the Integral Spiritual Experience global events.
About Greg Thomas
Greg Thomas has over 25 years of experience as a writer, producer, broadcaster and educator, and has been featured in publications as various as The Root, All About Jazz, Salon, London's Guardian Observer, the Village Voice, Africana, American Legacy, Savoy, New York's Daily News as well as the scholarly journal Callaloo. He was the Editor-in-Chief of Harlem World magazine from 2003-2006.
About Mark Palmer
Mark Palmer is a Principal with Metcalf & Associates and Global Leadership Coach for Abrasive Technology, Inc., providing leadership development, team building and organizational effectiveness. He is also co-author of the Innovative Leader Fieldbook and a founding member of the Integral Institute.
About Gabe Wilson
Gabe, founder of Developmental Design, is a leadership coach and organizational consultant, with a specialty in diversity and inclusion efforts. He is the co-author of Compassionate Conversations: How to Speak and Listen from the Heart. His work takes us to the intersection of social justice and purpose driven enterprises, design thinking, human psychology and group dynamics.
About Rob McNamara
Rob McNamara is an author, advisor, consultant and leadership coach with an expertise in adult development and human performance. He is a co-founder of the advisory firm Delta Developmental and is the Vice President of Strategy and Innovation at the World Communiversity educational initiative.
About Corey deVos
Corey W. deVos is Editor-in-Chief of Integral Life, as well as Managing Editor of KenWilber.com. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.
This was just the beginning of an extremely important conversation, and we want to know what you think. Let us know about any questions or comments you may have below!
I really enjoyed this. Thanks to all of you for this “conversation;” it’s a strong start of a presentation for you all as a group about this issue of racism and Integrality. You demonstrated a sufficiently safe space to appropriately be able to discuss, talk about, these issues. I very much appreciated each of your contributions, particularly the vulnerability, openness, presencing, and inquiry that Gabe enacted; speaking like he was in the experience and exploration of it, not just talking about it all as some expert.
That said, I’d like to see you go beyond just talking ABOUT Integrality and the dynamics of racism to taking the interaction into a sufficiently safe space of also engaging each other in it, not just talking ABOUT, but demonstrating DOING this valuable work with each other. This would be powerful, robust, potent, and juicy; a tour de force impact in this subject matter. Are you up for that level of transparency and vulnerability on video (you don’t have to air it, but at least step up to it, then decide whether to air it on Integral+Life)? I definitely sense that most of you are ready to walk that talk. And, obviously, it would be a great service to us all in the world, to show us the how of facing, engaging, and transforming through these issues. No pressure.
Thanks to all of you for this conversation, which was a free-wheeling and promising beginning. I say “free-wheeling” because there were numerous topics that came up that seemed to me worthy of an entire, deeper conversation themselves: intergenerational collective trauma AND intergenerational resiliency; Rob’s comment about radical creativity (in addressing racial issues; what are some ideas?); xenophobia and exotica; class issues in conjunction with race; accounting for the history of slavery and genocide without being trapped by it (is this only possible for integralists?); development of white identity, to name a few.
I appreciated Gabe grounding the conversation in the somatic experience, and also Greg’s “Melancholia” piece: a great musical exercise for conversations like this (my energy fell straight into the “womb-tomb” of the 2nd chakra–birth and death intermingling, appropriate for these times of uncertainty, I guess). I also very much appreciated Diane helping to structure and focus the conversation; that’s really helpful when there are numerous speakers.
I thought the integral sensibility of inclusion was present, of course, or as Mark said of this “this is us” moment: “collective acknowledgement of our inter-relatedness.”
And here is what I came away wondering about: why not use and define the term ‘white fragility’? In these conversations, I mean. Of course it is not a term to be hurled as accusation or confrontation in other settings, but these conversations are intended, at least in part, to educate the Integral Life community, so it seems appropriate to me to relate the source of the term and educate the community as to all the different things it points to. I appreciate that, as Mark said, past conversations in the larger culture on race have involved a lot of shaming (of whites), and that’s not what I’m suggesting at all. I know some people see it as a “weaponized” term, but integralists have not shied away from using other apt and precise terms, even if they tend to initially sound derisive: mean green meme comes to mind, as do toxic masculinity and weaponized feminism.
But it’s a pertinent term, and given that the IL Community through “developmental privilege” is largely white, it seems appropriate to educate us about white fragility. There have been many conversations on IL about fragility/resiliency/anti-fragility during recent months, so why not address it head-on to help this community at least become more anti-fragile regarding racial issues and discussion. Corey did use it in the write-up about this conversation, thank you. By not using it, it almost seems like reinforcing white fragility.
Of course, I may be way ahead of things here; maybe the term and its different aspects will be discussed in the future.
And back to the praise, this was indeed praise-worthy. Thanks again to all of you.
It sometimes feels like we have the expectation that integral must necessarily lean toward “anti-green”. I don’t see it that way. I think that ideally we are trying to integrate the full value stack, which means that we can occasionally find ourselves aligning with healthy expressions from all these stages, even while adding new layers to the conversation.
Which is exactly what my experience was of this conversation. Which, for me, did not feel like a “green discussion” at all, even if we found ourselves agreeing with certain green perspectives. It was a conversation driven more by compassion and empathy than many other integral discussions, yes. But those obviously are not just “green” sentiments.
In my mind, here are a few things that separated this from a typical “green” discussion:
The overall intellectual scaffolding of the show felt pretty darn integral to me. These guys are careful integral thinkers, and I am so happy they shared their views with us, from each of their particular rungs of the ladder.
We were able to point to multiple systemic failures that are contributing to this eruption of protest, while green tends to limit the conversation to a single system failure (in this case, “systemic racism”.)
We were able to poke fun at “woke culture” and their silly overreaches while also respecting the sense of urgency and injustice that is driving that culture.
We emphasize identity as something that is constantly growing and evolving, while green tends to see identity as a purely intersectional construct.
We were able to criticize the common usage of “all lives matter” (which aligns with green) while also making space for good-faith uses of ALM (which very much does not.)
I think the sorts of prescriptive solutions that come out of conversations like these tend to be much more full-spectrum and 4Q than green solutions, including some prescriptions that resonate with healthy green because it lands in their territory, and can act as guardrails to keep green healthy. (The same with orange, and the same with amber.)
As for finding ways for integral to gain more traction, to me the best way forward seems to be to begin meeting issues like these where they are, supporting the healthiest views and the healthiest possible enfoldment between conflicting views, and really leading with the whole “everyone is right” idea before telling everyone why they are so partial
And thank you for the feedback, I’d love to know what you think of the above. Maybe we will address some of this in our next show, and make some of these things a bit more explicit.
I have to admit that I’m getting a little ticked off at the quality of debate in the public media. However it has provided me with a little fun and intellectual stimulus. I wanted to have a stronger handle on why so much of the dialogue seemed skewwhiff to me. So I bought the book "Hypersanity: Thinking beyond thinking. By Neel Burton. Chapter 5 sets out 14 common fallacies found in inductive arguments. They range from the Straw Man fallacy to the correlation implies causation fallacy to the argument from ignorance fallacy.
It has helped me to weigh the value of perspectives where I have little or no knowledge of the background of those putting forward the views.
Which brings me to the conversation by Corey et al. It starts with the premise that there is overt and covert, systemic and ad hoc, conscious and unconscious racism in America. It is so ingrained that it is one of the integral attributes of society in America. In other words you cannot do away with racism and hope to have the same kind of society as was there before. Leastwise that was what I understood to be the basis of the conversation.
I get that. I get it because of an incident that I experienced. Confidentiality prevents me from giving details. However I was astounded to find that a group of well educated liberal non-whites were cautious about raising and discussing with their white colleagues the effect that the killing of George Floyd had had upon them. That is the effect of systemic and endemic racism. That’s how deep it is. That’s the length of the journey our society has to take.
Continue the discussion at community.integrallife.com
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