Journal
Beyond Race and Racism: An Integral Approach Mark Palmer and Ken Wilber
October 21, 2010 15:16

Beyond Race and Racism: An Integral Approach
Mark Palmer and Ken Wilber

How do we avoid the personal and cultural traps surrounding race and racism? How do we transcend our racial identity in order to find a deeper, wider, higher identity with an all-encompassing Self and Spirit? And once we figure out how to transcend ourselves, how can we continue to honor the deep wisdom and unique perspectives our ethnic heritage allows? Listen to find out!

The topic in general is the nature of self-identity and its relation to spirituality. Mark and Ken discuss the developmental unfolding of self-identity from egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric, and focus on the two major wings of that overall movement, stressing how important both of them are. The first is the incredibly significant move from egocentric to ethnocentric, where one can find an identity and social solidarity with others of one's group—whether African-American, gay, lesbian, female, physically challenged, and so on. Moving from egocentric and preconventional to ethnocentric and conventional is what identity politics is all about, and, on balance, is a very positive move.

But the second step is even more important: having found an ethnocentric identity (and having given it all due respect and honor), how does one move beyond that ultimately limited identity in order to find a deeper, wider, higher identity with a worldcentric and all-encompassing Self and Spirit?

Mark: “What‘s next? This black thing isn‘t working out, so now what? All of these limited identities have the same dilemma: a moving away from, an avoidance. Whenever I identified with any of them, at the end of the day I only felt sadness.”

Ken: “You wanted an identity that didn‘t stop short of infinity?”

Mark: “That‘s exactly right. You get to the point where you can‘t fool the Self. You just can‘t do it. So you have to go beyond being a black man, being a this type of man, or even a human, and find that prior identity with ever-present awareness. It‘s a fast slide to infinity.”

Mark points out that an integral approach to race and racism insists that factors in all the quadrants (e.g., intentional, behavioral, cultural, and socioeconomic) and all the levels (e.g., egocentric to ethnocentric to worldcentric) need to be addressed. But the one factor that virtually all the other approaches leave out is that of the intentional, interior, or consciousness dimension, where self-identity carries the ultimate secret to being set radically, infinitely free.

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