Integral Critical Theory: The 8 Zones of Racism


I believe the baby formula shortage has a disproportionate impact upon the poor. And to the extent that black Americans are disproportionately poor, and to the extent that is due largely to previous discriminatory laws that still have inertias today (such as overall lack of opportunity to gain generational wealth and property), then sure, we could talk about shades of “systemic racism”.

But if you are asking if the government is doing anything discriminatory today that would be contributing to this specific problem, no, probably not.

So I would say that this is definitely a systemic issue, but more like a failure of our markets (too many eggs in too few baskets) and of our health systems. Which may themselves be laced with residue of systemic racism, and that is probably worth looking at, but I don’t think that’s the main headline here.


I want to add to the “systemic racism” vs direct racism conversation. I think one challenge in our national conversations is the way we use one phase to point in many directions. In our school we did a large scale evaluation on race and punishment. Black students were punished a lot more than white students. Does this mean that white teachers think they are superior by race to the black students and want to hurt them, no, probably not at all in most cases. It means many things, including that black students act out in class more. The progressive point with studying these things and then putting action plans together to address these multi-facets is recognizing there are issues that present themselves uniquely in different populations. Solutions that work for one population (middle class white kids) wont always work for other groups, this is how color blind systems can be a problem.

I dont love that we use the word “racism” for all of this, I think it’s confusing. In most cases the systemic changes are about allowing a type of racial differentiation but one that is enhancing the life of the individual not repressing it.


So if I only look at impact, results then I’m probably stuck in a Pre/Trans Fallacy - likely Orange in my case - since I’m almost blind to “stated intent” of say current majority government. Stated intent is “for greater good”, yet trivial issues like baby formula shortages which were seen coming in Feb, Inflation Jan 20th '21, fuel costs doubling all destroy from lowest socioeconomics up through working and middle strata.

Nothing to see here since the marketing speel is Tealish sounding in an Inner Collective Globalist Zone, yet impact is really f’ing real, and disproportionately destroying the most vulnerable.

But it’s worth it in the short term, unless you’re one of the many coming up short.


Sadly your wisdom, and this is wise, is all too true.


Yes, this was the specific problem that I was hoping an 8-zone analysis such as above would help us overcome, because the phrase “systemic racism” can be enacted in very different ways depending on what zone(s) you happen to be looking at. Which is why I wanted to lead with the notion that we’ve already made the major social transformations that get us out of ethnocentrism and bigotry in the first place (primarily in our Zone 8 laws and, for ~40% of the population, our Zone 2 interiors), we just need to finish the job in all the other zones. I think we see the most resistance in Zone 7 (patterns of social self-organization that are still with us from prior discriminatory laws) and Zone 4 (the unexamined narratives and stereotypes in culture that unconsciously shape our behaviors). This feels very important to me, which is why I spent so much time working on this piece and fleshing out those zone analyses, which can hopefully provide a common language for us to look at any number of related problems, challenges, and life conditions.


Hey Corey, Have you ever disproved one of your hypotheses?


No, I have found that I am almost always right, and everyone else is always wrong. It’s like Ken says, “Everyone is right — especially Corey.”

Come on, of course I’ve changed my thinking about any number of issues over the years. Is there some hypothesis in my 8 zone analysis above that you think I need to rethink?


Related to the topic, I was answering a question on Facebook about “how do we afford LGBTQ folk equality in a society that includes a group, minority or majority, of traditional folks?”

My response:

I tend to agree that the only real solution here is something like “development”. However, that has a few nuances, as I think we need to talk about both “vertical development” (e.g. the shift from amber views/values to orange, to green, to teal, etc.; also known as “transformation”) as well as “horizontal development” (e.g. the ever-changing surface features of each of these developmental stages; also known as “translation”.)

In terms of vertical development (transformation), the path is fairly clear — we wait for a plurality of people to grow into post-ethnocentric stages, and then legislation is created from those stages. What’s interesting here is, even though the legislation is coming from a smaller plurality of people (remember, somewhere around 60% of the population is at a solid amber stage, according to Ken), that legislation is then enforced across the entire society, regardless of your developmental stage. This is how we in the U.S. drafted an Orange-ish Constitution, despite only 10-15% of the population at the time actually being Orange, yet our laws (ideally) tend to hold all citizens to minimally-Orange standards of behavior. It’s how we did Civil Rights 60 years ago, despite only ~10% of the population actually being Green at the time. And we’ve seen it more recently with things like gay marriage, which hit a sudden tipping point of public support during the mid-to-late 00’s.

And then we have to acknowledge that the surface features of these stages also change over time as well (translation). Your Amber is not your grandpa’s Amber. We can see evidence of this in things like changing opinions about interracial marriage — for example, 60 years ago, a vast majority of people in the U.S. did not approve of interracial marriage — in 1958, only 4% of the total population approved of interracial marriage. Today, however, 94% of the population supports interracial marriage, which means the vast majority of Amber also supports interracial marriage. This is a total sea change! Progress always seems slow when you are on the ground, but if we back up a bit, it’s pretty extraordinary how quickly our public sentiments and values can change from generation to generation.

What’s tricky here, is that there isn’t a whole lot we can do in the short term to accelerate vertical transformation, other than fundamentally reshaping things like education systems, economic systems, religious systems, etc. Which I think we probably agree is virtually impossible to do.

However, there ARE things people can do right now to help with horizontal translation. When it came to things like civil rights and interracial marriage, one of the things that helped was a sudden flood of television programming that focused on Black families, particularly in the mid 1970s, which itself helped rehabilitate our common bigotries around the issue, and make any number of shared subjects into objects. (Note that much of this programming was not designed to explicitly shame ethnocentric people, but rather to humanize minorities so that they would be easier to empathize with. I think we saw pretty much the same thing with TV shows like Will & Grace and Ellen Degeneres in the late 90s/early 00’s, which I do think helped accelerate the adoption of pluralistic values in mainstream audiences.)

I think we are seeing something similar in our media landscape today, as we begin to see more and more representation for different ethnic groups and identities. I also think this goes way overboard sometimes — and when it does go overboard, it can cause people to begin to reject some of these new translations, so this needs to be done skillfully. But as a whole, I think it’s a positive thing and is probably helping to mainstream many perspectives that were previously marginalized in our culture.

But I also think this kind of media shift also has rapidly diminishing results in today’s world, because our media systems are FAR more fragmented than they were in the 1970s, when you only had a handful of entertainment options available to you, so we may need to find some new ways to bring these higher/deeper/wider translations into our culture.


Cute. :wink:

I was specifically thinking how many use Hypothesis Testing in their decision making.
In your example it might be something like:
Success and mental well being for non majority demographics is predominated by Systemic and over Racism.
Then before launching into say a marketing campaign would rigorously work to disprove their own hypothesis themselves and with non-involved, all in the effort of making the best decisions and spending time on most important/critical topics.

All to often we fixate on self validation, blind to our ego desperately striving to win.

In many respects its fundamentally counter to application of Critical Theory so might be very difficult for some, but it really does help either validating getting it right or wasting time down wrong paths.


Yes, I both advocate and practice critical thinking. Much of which resulted in the very long analysis I shared above.

Do you think that you have accurately described my hypothesis?


Not at all, hence the “might be something like”. You would need to develop yourself. This is best done without fixating on the desired outcome.

As an example in business an outcome focus might be “this will be a world changing marketing campaign tripling revenues”.


I think this Integral Critical Theory: The 8 Zones of Racism is great, fantastic, and should go down in the Integral archives as a classic. Which is why I was a little nit-picky in addressing choice of language (they, their) in the section on Critical Race Theory. I distinguish between our language in this community discourse, and also some of the integral podcasts, where language tends to be less formal, and these write-ups that have a greater professionalism to them, justifying, I think, the most careful and still honest language. But again, yeah, I understand if my comments are seen as nit-picking.

And I would explain my suggestion about “positive expectation” (in the same section, about green) this way: Green being the immediate pre-integral stage, just seems we should be as inviting as we can, while again, staying honest–speak of the virtuous qualities of the green stage, voice the criticism, and if indeed there is any expectation that green will “pull it together,” voice that too. I think of the “arc of evolution” itself, or “Spirit-in-action” or “Eros”–towards greater and greater unities. Whether speaking of the “moral arc of the universe towards justice” (MLK, Jr.) or the “arc towards cooperation” (Haidt, and others), there is (or at least has been) a positive expectation built in to the Integral narrative. I know we are at a crossroads in culture, so maybe it’s hard to connect to a positive expectation for any stage of development, for civilization itself; yes, it does seem like it’s a toss-up how things are going to go in the near-term, and perhaps I was having a Dorothy in Oz moment when I wrote those words about positive expectation, clicking my heels to the rhythm of “I want to believe, I want to believe…” Actually what I want is a sense of that “arc” remembered, not forgotten, built into conversations as appropriate when we can, without undue naivete or spin or denialism. It is true, I do love rainbows.

Felt I needed to give a little more explanation about my prior comments, explanations that may carry no weight, given that I am now going to turn ‘dark’ :slightly_smiling_face: .

While Progress with a capital P has marked the centuries when it comes to racism, this thing called “great replacement theory” has been a (conspiratorial) through-line in those centuries as well, a shadow side and perhaps backlash to all that progress that has persisted and is now center-stage again. The current crop of politicians and media figures who are deceptively dressing the concept up in a cleaner language but nevertheless giving it credibility aren’t the first to do so. Here is one article that covers just a little of its history: The further back in history you go, the less “sanitized” is the language and the more obvious is the racism towards POC.

While indeed there are bound to be white people who do feel anxious about becoming a minority, and that would need to be included in any zone analysis, I think we have to be clear-eyed about recognizing how GRT by whatever name is its own race theory, and has historically been used and is being used now as a tool for political power and gain by trying to reframe who the ‘victims’ are in society, thus stoking fear and a sense of threat, which can have deadly repercussions. I personally sense something has changed, another line has been crossed, and my ‘positive expectation’ is that now we see that, and once we understand its through-line in history, we’ll be better equipped to take a more holistic view of race issues and theories.

Finally, just read about a film previewed at the Cannes Film Festival that addresses privilege, called “Armageddon Time.” Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 93%; IMDb only a 6.7. It’s not out yet, but maybe we’ll see clips one day here at Integral…


Hey @LaWanna, just now realizing that I never got back to you about your suggestion!

It’s actually funny — the way our system works, in order to allow people to comment on our content pages, I have to first create these posts in the community, and then link them to the content page on Integral Life. If I don’t link the community post to the main post, then I get an error message when I publish, so these threads usually go up a few minutes before the actual content they are pointing to is published.

Which means that sometimes I make a few edits to the main media page after putting up the community page. Usually those edits are minor — but in this case, I had actually re-edited the paragraphs you specifically mentioned and softened much of the language you pointed to, but forgot to edit the version here in the community.

So no, you weren’t nit-picking at all — we both saw the same problems in the same paragraphs, which, as far as I can tell, makes you an editor I can actually trust :wink:

Here is the version I posted in the “official” version. You’ll see how I changed phrases like “they want to deconstruct modernity and, in turn, postmodernity itself, and leave only amber in its wake” to “when postmodernity deconstructs modernity, we leave only amber in its wake.”

Critical Race Theory (CRT), meanwhile, seems to draw upon both versions of Green critical theory (Zone 7), but also enforces a particular hermeneutic frame in Zone 3, typically in an Amber absolutist fashion (as if to say, “our zone-7 analysis demands that we interpret reality in this particular way in Zone 3, and only in this particular way. Any other interpretations will be immediately labeled racist, oppressive, privileged, etc.”) In this way, CRT is leveraging ideas produced by Green postmodern cognition, while simultaneously collapsing healthy Green pluralism into Amber mono-perspectival absolutism.

When postmodernity deconstructs modernity, we leave only amber in its wake. There are some efforts within the CRT movement to regard Orange modern values such as “objectivity” and “neutrality” as a product of ethnic “whiteness”, or worse, “colonialism”. The stated reason being, because all modern and postmodern structures have been built over centuries upon ethnocentric/oppressive motivations, these structures reinforce “race” as a false social construct by perpetuating various colonialist inertias that keep us locked in racialized categories. We must therefore deconstruct many/most of these structures across our entire society in order to rid ourselves of these colonialist residues. This is a result of enacting developmentally-unfolding stages as persistent types, a confusion of the deep structures of orange with its historic and contemporary surface features. of a particular ethnic or cultural expression of orange, not realizing that the deep structures of Orange transcend ethnicity and ethnocentrism altogether. The irony, of course, is that by eliminating these modern/postmodern structures, we are further entrenching ourselves into these same ethnocentric categories and identities, and sealing the escape hatch that gets us out of ethnocentrism, racism, and bigotry in the first place.

Here in Integral Land, I think we would agree that we want to eliminate as many harmful surface structures and inertias that remain from previous oppressive eras, and we would probably also agree that there is still a great deal of work to do here. However, while many of the modern Orange structures we have inherited do indeed still have some of these colonialist surface patterns and inertias running through them, we also recognize how disastrous it would be to throw the baby of the deep structures (objectivity, neutrality, universality, etc.) out with the bathwater of surface structures — and why dismantling modernity can only ensure the re-emergence of far more racist structures in its wake. Another example where a basic understanding of developmental unfolding, as well as the four quadrants/eight zones, can help clear a staggering amount of confusion.


I totally agree with this. It seems that our discourse around race and racism has been polarizing into two amber extremes — critical race theory on the one side, and cynical race theory (i.e. replacement theory) on the other.

Stalin to the left of me, Hitler to the right, here I am — stuck in the middle with you :slight_smile:

I was thinking earlier, as I was commenting on how TV shows in the 1970s helped shape cultural discourse and acceptance of civil rights and interracial marriage around the country, how often I am reminded of the fact that what we call “culture” is so often shaped and defined simply by the ways information moves at a given time. In the 1970s, information moved in a particular way — a predominantly centralized, top-down television age, which gave its corresponding culture a particular shape. Today, information moves in a very different way — far more decentralized and far more bottom-up, with far less curation or enfoldment.

All of which is to say, I often think that the kinds of tribalism and polarization and extremism that we see today — and our changing cultural permissions that allow them to re-emerge in the first place — is more than anything a product of how information moves, and the platforms we use to consume that information. For example, the internet was a very different place back in, say, 2000 until 2008, than it was from 2008 to 2016. Largely because internet culture predominantly took place on computers, not smartphones. When the iPhone suddenly put the entire internet in our pocket and made it feel like magic, the shape of our culture irrevocably changed. And this is simply what the world looks like when the majority of our cultural discourse is taking place on pocket-rectangles.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to shift these cultural trends, without first inventing whatever new technology comes after smartphones and social media. AR or VR maybe?

The hardware shapes the software, and the software shapes the wetware.


A-ha, I see, the machine makes you play by its rules. Sorry you had to go to the trouble of explaining this to me, but now that I know, I will think twice before adding editorial comments to your writings, allowing myself to trust the writer’s process a little more. It did seem strange coming from you, the way it was originally worded. The final product is so much better.


I will be turning the term “cynical race theory” over in my mind. On the one hand, it sits well, capturing a particular group of people, but I’m not sure it captures the totality, and may be too tame in that regard, from my point of view.

Why not just leave the name it is known by, i.e. ‘replacement theory’? she asks. It’s their own term and it packs a wallop, and because it does, some unlikely Republicans are beginning to feel the heat of being associated with the racism and hatred and violence and white nationalism that are umbrellaed under that term (along with the cynicism), and are speaking out. Isn’t that a good thing, and what we want? While the right and the GOP have pummeled the left and Democrats around a warped definition of the term ‘critical race theory,’ I don’t want to see the left/Dems do the same thing with replacement theory, and yet I don’t want the “blood and soil” element to be denied either, or the historical facts ignored.

I remember right after Trump was elected, there was a massive impulse from multiple quarters that we all needed to try to understand and empathize with the Trump supporters. Empathy is always a good thing, particularly when there is true suffering or grievance. But I don’t think most of us realized how far down the rabbit hole many of these supporters had gone, or would go in the following five years. I think that’s a lesson we need to remember, and while not eschewing empathy altogether, be a little more wary about what’s going on here now so the kind of comments coming from certain quarters of the GOP and right-wing media do not become any more normalized than they already are, as Trump’s little lies became normalized to a great extent until they blossomed into the Big Lie.

As I say, I’ll keep turning that term around in my mind, and maybe you’ll provide some persuasive reasoning as to why “cynical race theory” is an appropriate term. I’m open to that, interested.

As for the technology issues you spoke of, I agree it adds to the ease in which culture wars can explode and spread and do damage. And yet, on the flip side, more of what has been a part of history is now more easily revealed, is more transparent. We can’t claim we didn’t know. Huge responsibility.


Oh I wasn’t suggestion “cynical race theory” as a new label, I was just trying to characterize it in a poetically-pleasing alliterative fashion :wink:

It is incredibly cynical though, isn’t it?

Empathy is always a good thing, particularly when there is true suffering or grievance. But I don’t think most of us realized how far down the rabbit hole many of these supporters had gone, or would go in the following five years.

Yeah, to me I think it’s about empathizing with the sorts of conditions that generate these sorts of regressive views in the first place. Not necessarily empathizing with the views themselves (to an extent).

And yet, on the flip side, more of what has been a part of history is now more easily revealed, is more transparent. We can’t claim we didn’t know. Huge responsibility.

I was definitely a product of that late-90s Wired Magazine utopianism, which told me that in a few years I would have all the world’s knowledge and wisdom at my fingertips, and the cornerstone of democracy itself in my pocket. I think we may have underestimated the perils of fully democratizing and decentralizing information. We certainly didn’t see how quickly and easily something like a “like” button could destabilize our political, economic, and cultural operating systems.

But who knows, maybe 100 years from now we will see this messy eruption of bottom-up populism (and idiocracy) as a painful-but-neccesary step toward the utopianism we were promised back in the dark ages of the 1990s.


Got it, that you weren’t suggesting a new label. I apparently read that wrong, but then, I’ve been off a little with Wordle this week too, so. I thought of a few other rhyming c words that might be apropos for the theory, which strung together might also make a good rap song. But I don’t want to distract from your own poetic alliteration, which I noticed right off the bat and thought “that’s cool.” So we’ll leave it standing, because yes, it is incredibly cynical.

I actually have a little optimism at the present moment, about where things are going. Not utopia anytime soon, but feels like some DOJ action might be right around the corner, putting a few more wheels of democracy in motion. And we’ll see where that leads.

You’ll notice I’ve used the “like” button. Hopefully I’m not corrupting things too much with my rebellion :slightly_smiling_face: Thanks Corey, for all you do, and how well you do it.


Haha you’ll notice that here at Integral Life we don’t use a like button. We use a LOVE button. Which is way better :wink:

My least favorite emoji on Facebook? The laugh emoji. I use emojis all the time in comments, just to keep things warm — but I absolutely hate the laughing emoji as a reaction. It was intended as “laughing with” but is more often used as “laughing at”. It’s become the emoji of passive-aggression and cowardly trolling, a way dismiss people completely without needing to actually say anything.

And you always see it in the most inappropriate places. “Four dead due to random shooting” with a laughing emoji underneath it. Drives me crazy.


No haha, yes, love it is, love it’s always been, love it will always be.

And it’s an ugly emoji, I think, the laughing one, in appearance as well as how used. I notice you wink a lot. Me, I overuse smile, but then it’s an inverted rainbow. I know I can wear this subject out and I’m really not as whimsical as my references to them might suggest. I don’t fetishize them anyway. But I really really do like rainbows, they make me gasp every time I see one. It’s like seeing mySelf, yourSelf, everySelf. :rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow::rainbow: