Recent racial injustices have given voice to a grossly underrepresented group. A cross sectional sub group of both the Black Community and the American Middle Class, the Pro-Black Middle Class might be the only hope for accountable leadership in the Black Community.
What happened to our leaders? Well, it depends who you ask. Some were assassinated by the Federal Government (i.e. MLK, Malcolm X, Black Panthers and Marcus Garvey;) Others sold out for personal wealth, fame and power (e.g. Al Sharpton;) Most, however, were destroyed by circumstance before they had an opportunity to develop into true leaders.
The cultural gap between the general Black Middle Class and the Black Poor has been slowly widening since the conclusion of the Black Civil Rights Movement. Just as one of the unintended effects of Racial Integration was the death of Black economic independence, an unintended consequence of Affirmative Action is the loss of a common oppressor. In true American Capitalist fashion, the Black Middle Class is becoming richer and less culturally aware, while the poor is vilified, ostracized and exploited for our entertainment.
A quick history lesson from W.E.B. Du Bois’s Talented Tenth circa 1903:
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.
Its technique is a matter for educational experts, but its object is for the vision of seers. If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may possess artisans but not, in nature, men.
Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools—intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it—this is the curriculum of that Higher Education which must underlie true life.
W.E.B.’s idea is the polar opposite of today’s popular culture where drug dealers, philanderers, and attention hungry buffoons inundate the radio, television and ultimately our zeitgeist. Today, our “Best,” as W.E.B put it, has willfully ignored the rest for fear that they may be associated with the unwashed masses – a notion that would be reasonable if they were not already perceived by default as active participants in this self-destructive culture by the “majority.”
Who will save us? Most likely, the original hopeful saviors from W.E.B.’s day… The Pro-Black Middle Class – especially those educated at Historically Black Colleges and Universities also so referred to as HBCU’s. Albeit many “Predominately White Institutions” have student created Black social groups that exhibit the same values, the decision to attend an HBCU shows an appreciation for culture, a belief in the possibility of Black unity, and the courage to face possible backlash from racists due to this decision. Regardless of if a young person decides to be immersed in Black Culture or to create an oasis of Black Culture inside mainstream America, the ideals of such a person are the same. These ideals plus an economic backing from a community willing to conspire for its own success will create a force strong enough to break the cycle of oppression, contamination and death.
The Talented Tenth of the Negro race must be made leaders of thought and missionaries of culture among their people. No others can do this and Negro colleges must train men for it. The Negro race, like all other races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men.
What do you think?