Burgess Owens' Perspective: “The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the ‘Best of this Race’ that they may guide the mass away from the contamination and death of the worst, in their own and other races."
This was the description, in 1910, of educated and elitist black professionals who W.E.B Dubois first dubbed, the “Talented Tenth.”
Dubois was the first Black American to graduate from Harvard. He was accepted within the northern white intellectual circles as one of the “best of his race.”
As an avowed socialist, he was the only black member of the original 19 wealthy, socialist founders of the NAACP. He was to be the face of the NAACP and its messenger to the black community through its magazine, The CRISIS.
He would later serve on the board of eugenicist and racist Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, as she promoted abortion in the black community.
According to her writings, blacks and other minorities were “human weeds,” and “reckless breeders,” “spawning . . . human beings who never should have been born.”
W.E.B Dubois used the NAACP platform for two decades to discredit the character, reputation and fund-raising efforts of capitalist and Tuskegee University founder, Booker T. Washington.
Washington’s message of industry and self-sufficiency was eventually replaced by the NAACP’s message of “integration at all cost” and unionization.
Dubois, later in his life would join the communist party and renounce his American citizenship. His “integration at all cost” message would, decades later, continue to influence the community’s self-perception.
Dubois’s reward for sharing and promoting the goals of the liberal/socialist organizations he represented was honor, national prestige and a good job.
He, unlike the visionary capitalist, Booker T. Washington, has been treated kindly in the history books as an intellectual hero.
The Talented Tenth is alive and well today and visible in all arenas of prominence. “That they may guide the mass away from the contamination and death of the worst, in their own and other races.”
As they elevate themselves from the masses, they ensure their success and that of their fellow Talented Tenth friends.
They are the black liberal academia, who from the safety of their tenured jobs askew capitalism and promote socialism/Marxism. They are the professional black politicians who legislate barriers that keep poor black children from a quality education, poor black teenagers from employment, and black entrepreneurs from competing with labor unions for federal projects.
They are the black developers and managers, the slumlords, who have garnered ten’s of millions in wealth from “help the poor” federal funds while their tenants live in squalor.
They are the wealthy black entertainers who confuse humbleness with elitist condescension and the community organizers who march for the downtrodden and then jump in front of the line when the federal goodies arrive — or a hosting job at MSNBC.
This is the group that with the encouragement of liberal/socialist organizations guided a proud and productive mid 20th century black race away from capitalism and industry to one that would spend decades demanding the industry of others.
In 1900 Booker T. Washington labeled them as Problem Profiteers. "There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public . . . partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs," he penned.
This group has been the most ardent enemy of the black community and represents its most seductive and deadly Trojan Horse.
They come as if from the community bearing gifts, but instead of sharing encouragement and hope — they who live the American dream, offer a message of hopelessness and actions of obstructionism — making it almost impossible for the masses to experience the American Dream.
Their influence will wane through the power of capitalism and competition.
The American people will decide that their product — hopelessness — is no longer of any value.
This could be the beginning.
Burgess Owens is the author of the soon-to-be-released book. “It’s All about Team — Exposing the Black Talented Tenth.” He is a former first-round draft pick of the NY Jets, who concluded an all-pro career with the Oakland Raiders after a career-highlight win in Super Bowl XV over the Philadelphia Eagles.
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