How do we think about race in America today? This question continues to be core to the evolution of our national experiment. And it has come even further to the forefront in recent years, as the progressive social justice movement in American politics has gained more and more prominence. In this episode of the podcast, I was thrilled to be able to explore this subject with Greg Thomas—musician, intellectual, Integralist, journalist, spiritual practitioner, and co-founder of the Jazz Leadership Project. Greg, like myself, is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Cultural Evolution, and we share a deep appreciation for the wisdom of integral philosophy and the perspectives it offers on issues of culture, evolution, and history. But what I enjoyed so much about this conversation were the unique and different perspectives Greg brought to bear on the subject, both from his personal experience and his impressive and eclectic scholarship. Greg is an expert in the intellectual currents that have arisen around the art of Jazz—a tradition that is far outside my wheelhouse—and in this conversation we explore some of that history, covering writers like Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray, and what Greg feels they can offer to the current conversation around race. Race has always been one of the most challenging and complex but also important topics for anyone trying to make sense of our national politics and where culture might be headed. I hope this episode may contribute, in some small way, to that conversation.
More about Greg Thomas
Greg Thomas, CEO and cofounder (with his wife Jewel Kinch-Thomas) of the Jazz Leadership Project, is a writer, teacher, and entrepreneur. Greg has written about culture, race, and democratic life in publications ranging from the Village Voice, Integral Life, New Republic, Salon, UPTOWN, The Root, the Guardian Observer, and the New York Daily News—as jazz columnist. Greg has contributed to two books centering on the work and thought of his mentor, Albert Murray: Albert Murray and the Aesthetic Imagination of a Nation, and Murray Talks Music: Albert Murray on Jazz and Blues (University of Minnesota Press, 2016), for which he penned the Afterword. Greg has lectured on American cultural history and jazz at Columbia, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Hamilton College, and Harvard.
Learn more about Greg at Tune In To Leadership.