Alpha Kappa Alpha hosts "Talented Tenth" discussion| 1/24/12 11:13am
Last night, nearly 20 students and faculty joined a dinner discussion aboutW.E.B. Du Bois’scontroversial idea of the “talented tenth” of African-American society. History and African and African-American studies professorReena Goldthreeled students in a discussion aboutW.E.B. Du Bois'scontroversial theory of an elite group of blacks responsible for furthering the goals of the other “90 percent” of blacks.
Du Bois formulatedthis theoryin response to the prominent views ofBooker T. Washingtonthat advocated for the vocational training of blacks rather than the traditional classical education. Goldthree explained that while Washington used the rural nature of 85 percent of blacks living in the American South as the basis for his emphasis on technical training, Du Bois looked back to the history of the earliest talented blacks to show that there was a limited group of people of color who pursued higher education in order to make a difference in their communities.'
Throughout the discussion, students were asked to reflect on whether they considered themselves part of the “talented tenth” and how the answer to that question would determine their responsibilities to their respective communities.
Many expressed a desire to give back to the communities that had provided them with so much opportunity, and several students related how the support of family members and high school teachers were key factors motivating them to excel. The conversation, part of a series of events throughout the week hosted byAlpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., encouraged students to think deeply about what their Dartmouth education has done for them so far and whether they believed that it met the goals of education as Du Bois outlined them.
Several divisive topics arose throughout the discussion, such as the effect that minority role models have on the success of minority students, whether black communities should invest only in those who display exceptional talent and whether culture truly does only filter from the top downwards, as Du Bois posited. In the end, the dialogue seemed to reach the conclusion often put forward by our very own College president — namely, that the world’s troubles are our own troubles, a sentiment first spoken by former College President John Sloan Dickey. A number of the participants acknowledged that because we’re all part of a global community, we should address the troubles that ail all people even if they are not a part of our own home communities.
AKA will be hosting an event for women tonight at 9 p.m., where they will discuss how Dartmouth women should go about helping each other and committing to the promises they make to themselves. They will also host an event for men’s appreciation on Thursday at 5 p.m.