Lucas Morel’s op-ed in Sunday’s Los Angeles Times reflects on the work of Ralph Ellison. It is a fine piece. Monday marks the 90th anniversary of Ellison’s birth. Invisible Man, according to Lucas,
"made ’invisibility’ a metaphor for our inability to see each other’s full humanity. Published in 1952, the novel chronicles a black man’s search for identity in an America that refuses to ’see’ him. As Americans struggle today to become more colorblind in their public and private interactions, Ellison’s writings offer much to improve our social and political vision."
"Ellison, who died in 1994, observed that the ’high visibility’ of blacks in a predominantly white America made their individuality ’un-visible’ to most whites. ’If the white society has tried to do anything to us,’ he remarked, ’it has tried to keep us from being individuals.’ But though the nation’s founders committed the ’sin of American racial pride,’ they also committed the ideal of human equality to paper. In so doing, Ellison believed they gave blacks and other minorities the firmest ground for the extension of America’s promise to all of its citizens."
Read the whole thing, or even better, get Lucas’ new book (officially published on March 1st by the University Press of Kentucky) called Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man. It includes essays by Lucas, James Seaton, Danielle Allen, Thomas Engeman, John F. Callahan, and others. You can order it by clicking here.