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The Talented Tenth and herd mentality

Posted by Richard on October 21, 2008

Rattler Gator J.B. White has a rather different theory of why Colin Powell endorsed Obama (emphasis added):

I don't think it's about race. I do think it's about your social station. Call that "social class," if you like. Essentially, Colin and Alma Powell (as a couple) may be asking themselves and a certain circle of friends, "Who is this Cracker, Sarah Palin?"

… The problem, obviously, is that from a class perspective — there's far more of the folks who kinda like and respect Sarah Palin as opposed to the elites offended by the most popular Governor of any American state.

That's why they are desperately trying to drag him home by any means necessary.

You see, the problem we have in the black community (and the problem the nation has overall) is the universally accepted academic concept known in the black community as the Talented Tenth (and associated with W.E.B. DuBois). It took me years to realize this concept has no faith in the average man or woman (this is why DuBois opposed Booker T. Washington, who had complete faith in the average man and woman). It dictates that we be led from above. By our betters, and betters is defined as the more book-smart.

Do you see the problem here?

Do you see the plantation?

The susceptibility to totalitarian instincts and the requirement to act as a herd?

And it runs contrary to the concept of America, does it not?

Interesting. I hadn't heard of the Talented Tenth. There's more. Read the whole thing, and be sure to listen to the YouTube clip.

(HT: Booker Rising)

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2 Responses to “The Talented Tenth and herd mentality”

  1. Hathor said

    If one were to do research on W.E.D. DuBois dispute With Booker T. Washington, it should be done using sources of the time. I would say starting in the fifties Black intellectuals with differing political views have expanded, distorted or taken out of context, the dispute.

    I think J.B. White may be one of the few black people who even think of the Talented Tenth. Approving of what Washington wanted does not neccessarily depend on class, and for the majority of black people, they do not have generations of a upper middle class background to have affect a herd mentality.

    Since Colin Powell’s parents had immigrated from Jamaica, I don’t see how the dispute between Dubois and Washington would have effected his life.

    White also must be really isolated form black folks, to think that poor black folks would think Sarah Palin one of them.

  2. rgcombs said

    Well, as I said, the Talented Tenth concept is new to me, so I have no idea if White is blowing smoke or not. But I don’t think his argument depends on a large black upper middle class. He’s saying that people who buy the argument are ready to be “led from above” by their “betters” — that’s certainly something people in the lower classes might buy into — and apparently do.

    As for Sarah Palin, I think you missed his point. He didn’t say that “poor black folks would think Sarah Palin one of them,” he said that she was more representative of them “In actual, objective fact … than (for example) Hillary Clinton,” ”even though they don’t realize that.”

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