Black Liberation and Du Bois' Talented Tenth

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Abstract Summary

Within the “Talented Tenth,” Du Bois explores the means through which issues of racism, classism, and other systems/institutions of power can be effectively addressed. Du Bois argues that it is through the cultivation and sustainment of those deemed as the top ten percent most capable and gifted individuals within the black community that the Negro problem can be resolved. However, this essay questions the merits of Du Bois’ approach by asking the following: Does Du Bois’ talented tenth prove necessary within the struggle for black liberation? Is an elite group capable of relating to the masses, discouraging the reproduction of systems of oppression, etc.? In an attempt to answer these questions the essay uses philosophical theories, such as Bill E. Lawson’s social disappointment and Lewis Gordon’s black existentialism as tools of analysis. In doing so, the argument offers an updated and more plausible framework for the struggle of black liberation.

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