Ralph Ellison: Misunderstandings Still

Not of race but of social hierarchy, that mystery which arises from strangeness, and from the differences in experience between individuals and groups occupying different regions, neighborhoods, and levels of the social pyramid. Such mysteries arise out of the difficulty of communicating across the hierarchical divisions of American society, and a great deal of our misunderstanding springs from our failures of communication. Such mystery is a product of psychological distance and our ignorance of one another, and it is so persistent that even our great improvements in communications technology make it easier for Americans to misunderstand one another.

- Ralph Ellison, Address to the Harvard College Alumni, Class of 1949, June 12th, 1974

I took the above photo during a visit to Lincoln University, Jefferson City, MO. The statue is of soldiers from the 62nd Regiment of U. S. Colored Troops who founded the University in 1866. My novel 'Liberty Adams' is told from the perspective of one of these soldiers.