Friday Question: Is there still a “Talented Tenth” in Black America?

The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst, in their own and other races.W.E.B. DuBois, September 1903 [Full text]

“The Talented Tenth” is the phenomenon of one out of ten black people who is influential in the world, through methods such as education, artistic talent, musical talent, athletics, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change.

DuBois is talking about the 10% of the race who he charged with uplifting the race by providing morally sound, socially conscious, and unselfish leadership to Blacks in the post-Reconstruction era. Interestingly enough,  1948, Dubois recanted this claim, acknowledging that he didn’t realize the extent to which egotism, self-interest, and self-righteousness would prevent the Talented Tenth from serving its intended purpose.  I think he would recant even further if he were alive in 2008.

Do you think that there is a “Talented Tenth” in Black America today?   Who is the “Talented Tenth” of today?  Are they willing to accept DuBois’ challenge in this era.


Filed under academic, african american, black, black man, community, culture, opinion, race

2 responses to “Friday Question: Is there still a “Talented Tenth” in Black America?

  1. It is inconceivable that we could be operating in the same paradigm that DuBois described.

    There is not so much now a talented tenth as there is an Elite tenth and somewhat of a permanent underclass tenth. The rest of Black America is scattered along the middle.

  2. Cami B

    I co-sign with Inkognegro. I believe all children have the ability to be talented and intellectually gifted if the right environment is provided to nurture those traits. The problem is that a great majority of our black children are born into situations where the chips are stacked against them. Their parents are useless, and their outlooks on what is important in life are so warped that they can’t see past today and what they can get today. Bling, Bling, cars and clothes. The majority of underclass blacks are so warped they can’t see the forest for the trees. They have no work ethic, and they don’t teach their children the value of education and where they come from. They don’t teach these children that they come from noble blood. They don’t teach them that people died, had their heads bashed in so that you could go to school, and have the rights you have today. They feel entitled, and can’t see the big picture to understand what a huge disappointment their complacency is to the entire African-American community. But if you were to take that same child, put him/her in an environment with parents who will instill those values in them that child would soar. It’s sad but there is a majority of underclass blacks who will stay that way because they are comfortable there. And their values and morals are entirely different from that of a majority of upper class and middle class blacks. So, yes there is an elite tenth, the lower class, sad to say is more than a tenth. But the majority of Black America is middle class and work hard for every thing they have. They value education and realize that is one of the main things that can keep them from falling through the cracks and ending up in that lower class. Notice I said a majority, I do realize there are exceptions to every rule…

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