The Talented Tenth

This is an interesting post.  When I was at Cornell I heard a lot about the so called "Talented 10th" (and that we, Black students of the Ivy League, were a part of it), but never really knew what it meant or where it came from.  Now that I know, I do think that the Talented 10th is failing their communities of origin.  So many of my classmates did a little charity work here and there, and moved on to focusing on their education and career tracks.  Everyone wants to get theirs, and it seems like no one understands that their singular success means nothing if there's five more little Black girls being born to a life of poverty and abuse back where they came from.

One though that crossed my mind is that for some of these upwardly mobile Blacks their experiences growing up in these neighborhoods that need help desperately were so bad that they can't fathom the idea of going back, even to help the kids who are helpless to the choices that their parents make.  They start to see "those people" as the enemy, the reason why Black people always look so bad in the media, the ones who are holding Black people back.  They separate themselves further and further away from "them" that they can't even see that they used to be one of "them", back when they didn't have a choice in the matter.  Even though they themselves were once a part of this community, they're the "special flower that grew out of the concrete", instead of the lucky kid who was born to a future-thinking parent or was guided by some other caring adult.

Another reason could be the effects of assimilation into American culture.  The other ethnic groups that the article mentions as having the village mentality and working to lift others like them up were voluntary immigrants to this country.  They came to this country because of it would benefit not only them, but their whole families, and no matter how individualistic American society is, it's not going to change a first generation immigrant's view on how much time, money, and effort they should invest in their lesser well off family members.  I think that slavery separated Black people so much from out ancestor's "community values" that we've completely ascribed to the Western idea of individual freedom above all else, which I'm coming to realize is a detrimental belief for a group in the minority to have.  We need to be a village, or else we'll always be stuck in these cycles of poverty that dominate poor Black neighborhoods.

If there was a "Talented Tenth", which I'm not sure there is because success in this country tends to be more about who you know than talent anyway, their duty should be to lift up those who are still at the bottom, and the reason that things are the way they are today is because they haven't done this and have abandoned generation after generation of Black children to raise themselves and each other.

I think I"m kind of rambling, I don't have a clear thought on this subject yet, but I'm tired of forwarding and linking other people's words because I'm too tired to write anything original.  I've also come to the conclusion that, no matter how spoiled and childish this may sound, I am not made for a 9 to 5 job.  The hours don't even need to be shorter, just different.  Well, maybe a little shorter.

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