Did I just engage in “Green-ranking” of Ta-Nehisi Coates? Yes and No.


To a Facebook friend who said that I engaged in Green-ranking of Ta-Nehisi Coates, here’s what I said:

I just want to clarify that although I referenced SD colors I am actually articulating a station-based as opposed to stage-based model of my own making. It’s a work in progress. As I put it: “An orthodox integralist would say this is Green hostility to Orange. When I look, what I see is Systemic-Mind’s allergy to Diligent-Mind.”

Re: “Green-ranking”. I’m glad there are folks who are doing this sort of analysis and critique *without* using the jargon. But I believe in methodological pluralism too, so I tend to play the bad cop and use the jargon a lot of the time and let others play good cop. Some people can’t be reached by the jargon, but I think some people can only be reached if they are introduced to the possibility of a new “language”, requiring study and immersion, in order to advance their sojourn.

To put it another way, I use jargon sometimes because I think using the jargon. It’s part of my worldview. It’s part of my community and my “culture”. And it’s not fully translatable. Green does not simply translate into “sensitive and diversity-loving”. It doesn’t. Teal does not simply translate into “integrative and nuanced”. It doesn’t. There’s more to it than those words imply. The words can’t just be translated, thus I think using them, and to communicate myself authentically I need to have the freedom of expression to use the best words that I know. And ultimately if we want to change the world, I think we need to be authentically ourselves.

If someone really wants to get to know us, they won’t insist that we translate our innermost thoughts into a language of the lowest common denominator, even if a valuable part of our psyche or soul or meaning gets lost in translation. They will take the time to get to know us, to know our influences, just as they would expect the same of us in return.

Some people believe that integralists ought never use jargon outside of “safe spaces” and they hold out a Holy Grail of a “jargon-less Integral”. Not me. That’s never going to happen. We shouldn’t assume people always want the “easy route” to wisdom (or that one exists!). None of us who are part of the Integral community that I know became so identified without learning specialized language and concepts, and we ought not expect other people to, either. Getting rid of the useful language that has helped to shape who we are won’t really attract hordes of new people to the Integral movement. People have tried and it didn’t seem to work out so well for them (their blogs and zines are shuttered now). Some of us, at least, need to take a different approach. We need to attract more people into obtaining an “Integral education” even though it takes time, effort, and reading books.

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  1. […] Integral community, but I will use technical jargon to achieve communicative precision regularly for reasons that I’ve previously explained. I just happen to think that nobody has done a really good job at translating Integral into a […]


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