Ralph Ellison’s Integral Insight into Race and Culture

Greg ThomasCognitive, Editor's Picks, Ethical, Free, Integral Live, Moral, Perspectives, Self-Identity, The Daily Evolver, Values, Video, World Affairs, Worldviews 1 Comment

To kick off Black History Month, Jeff connects with Greg Thomas, an integral thinker who is pioneering a new way forward in race relations in the U.S. Greg advocates transcending the postmodern emphasis on racial identity in favor or embracing what is a broader American cultural identity, of which all Americans are an inextricable part.

Greg advances a rich lineage of Black intellectual thought that includes Albert Murray and Ralph Ellison. Today Greg and Jeff discuss Ellison’s famous essay, “The Little Man at Chehaw Station: The American Artist and His Audience”. The title character, the “little man,” stands in for any person of any station who wholeheartedly participates in the American culture.

As Ellison writes, “[The Little Man] demands that the relationship between his own condition and that of the more highly placed be recognized. He senses that American experience is of a whole, and he wants the interconnections revealed. And not out of a penchant for protest, nor out of petulant vanity, but because he sees his own condition as an Inseparable part of a larger truth in which the high and the lowly, the known and the unrecognized, the comic and a tragic, are woven into the American skein.”

Greg Thomas

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.

Jeff Salzman

About Jeff Salzman

Jeff Salzman worked with Ken Wilber for several years in building the Integral Institute. He is a co-founder of Boulder Integral, the first bricks-and-mortar venue dedicated to the development of integral consciousness. These days Jeff provides integrally-inspired commentary on politics and culture on Integral Life and The Daily Evolver.


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    This question is for Jeff. I have been introduced to Integral thought in the past 6 months and have loved it. I have been absorbing this stuff like a sponge. I am a 67 year old woman and Integral thinking has helped me pull together so much of what I have learned about this life , material which has has been located in silos in my psyche.

    So here is my question:
    In thinking about the coming online of the stages of personal and cultural development, I am struck by the how quickly the recent stages have manifested and what it means for our world to have so many world views at war with each other. Red, amber. orange, green and integral seem to be all alive and well on this planet. Earlier stages used to last for millenia before a new one emerged. So my question is, how can we keep red, amber orange and green from destroying each other before Integral can embrace and contain them?

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