Forums The Will to Adorn The W.E.B. DuBois “Talented Tenth Exhibition,” Paris, 1900.

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      In the article link above, Henry Louis Gates states the following:

      Du Bois saw the people in these photographs as cultural warriors, as a vanguard, as missionaries of cultural and educational potential. The question that strikes us today, when the class divide within the black community is so starkly pronounced, is whether or not these photographs were the evidence, in black and white, not so much of the promise of a massive social mobility for the entire race, of the part for the whole, but rather of a nascent class divide within the African-American community — one that all of us must worry is becoming a permanent fixture of a very complex and bifurcated African-American social identity.

      Discuss Professor Gates’ contention in light of the fact that DuBis later denounced his own formulation of the “Talented Tenth” theory, and conceded to criticisms that it smacked of elitism. Well-intenioned at the outset, DuBois believed that the top 10th of the “Negro race” should be cultivated for leadership and positioned as an argument against theories of biological and social inferiority.

      Does this theory have any value or merit today, and to what degree should positive images be promoted to represent African Americans; and where does one draw the line between “positive” and “elitist” in this regard? 

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