Analysis Of The Talented Tenth By W. E. B. Dubois

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While Harper develops the mulatto characters considerably, the dichotomy of speech in the novel further develops the idea of a “Talented Tenth.” Two events represent the contract within conversations between the black and white communities: the secret meeting amongst the slaves at the beginning of the novel and the Conversazione. The secret meeting takes place in a hidden, dark atmosphere, while the Conversazione takes place in a bright, open atmosphere; this difference juxtaposes the oppression of the dark-skinned slaves with the relative open freedom of the lighter-skinned blacks. The transition away from darkness throughout the novel represents the black community gradually altering their identity in order to become more similar to the white…show more content…
Morehouse’s idea of the “Talented Tenth,” W.E.B. DuBois starts by stating that “the Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men” (DuBois 1). Present in Dubois’s essay and Iola Leroy, this portrayal of the “Talented Tenth” as the saviors of the black community is one reason why the philosophy is widely criticized and considered elitist. DuBois believes education is a great equalizer and the college educated among a race lead and direct the community, but it is concerning that his theory of education to mitigate the differences between racial communities is best supported by mulattoes and individuals capable of racially passing. While the philosophy may be too idealistic and unsupported, the connection between racial identity and the ability to lead or help the black community is justifiable because of the power of mulattoes as shown in literature. Over a century after its first usage, the “Talented Tenth” was mentioned in a commencement address by President Obama at Morehouse College, the United States’ only all-male historically black college. Obama altered the initial conception of the term to call the black community to action and participate more in local, national, and global communities, constructing the concept of a modern “Talented Tenth” in which no group functions as the savior of others. Rather than for personal benefit, Obama urges us to use our degrees to combat the disparities in our communities. Therefore, in order for racial equality to be reached, all communities must work together and contribute to society, rather than a few select elites serving as the key to
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