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The Future of the Race Paperback – January 14, 1997
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In a ground-breaking collaboration, and taking the great W.E.B. Du Bois as their model, two of our foremost African-American intellectual address the dreams, fears, aspirations, and responsibilities of the black community--especially the black elite--on the eve of the twenty-first century. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Two preeminent black American scholar/ authors, both affiliated with the department of Afro-American studies at Harvard, offer contemporary responses?reflections rather than policy recommendations?to W.E.B. Du Bois's famous challenge to "the Talented Tenth" about service to the black community. Given the ambitiousness of the title, the essays are brief?not much longer than Du Bois's 1903 essay plus his own later self-critique (both published in an appendix here)?and somewhat derivative of the author's previous writings. Gates recalls his passage to the Ivy League 25 years ago and the subsequent American political retrenchment and black middle-class's sense of guilt. The two black men he admired the most at Yale died young and unfulfilled; Gates suggests that his generation may find the quest for identity within their community more daunting than the struggle against white America. West, more directly critiquing Du Bois, argues that the patriarch disdained all but elite culture, and that black "cultural hybridity" (Coltrane, Wright, Morrison, etc.) best engages the challenge of America's "twilight civilization." Thus the Talented Tenth faces an identity crisis: it must decide whether to retreat into cultural rootlessness and hedonism or to strive, as West has argued often, for "radical democracy."
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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"The grand example of Du Bois remains problematic principally owing to his inadequate interpretation of the human condition and his inability to immerse himself fully in the rich cultural currents of black everyday life." (p. 55)
In the essay, `The Parable of the Talents', Gates interjects his own collegiate life experiences to provide the framework to the notion that so much diversity (socioeconomic, cultural, class, etc...) exists within African-American community that just the intelligent tenth of same group would find it difficult to satisfy Du Bois's request to `save the Negro race':
"As economic differences increase, the need to maintain the appearance of cultural and ideological conformity also increases. But it is these fake masks of conformity that disguise how very vast black class differentials really are. And no amount of kinte cloth or Kwanzaa celebrations will change this." (p. 37).
For convenience and reference, both 'The Talented Tenth' and Du Bois's own critique some 45 years later, `The Talented Tenth Memorial Address', is located in the book's appendix. A great all-in-one book for readers.