The Talented Tenth? Can I get an amen toward political civility?

The Talented Tenth? Can I get an amen toward political civility?
Michele Battle-Fisher
Orgcomplexity Blog
September 15, 2013
I uncovered with a Bing search one of my early forays into blogging as referenced by “The Essence of Politics” blog hosted by Horadi Brown from October 2009. That reference can be found at My piece, “Has the Talented Tenth already arrived with Obama or is a dream deferred”, was quoted midway through the blog post. I became initiated into blogging while I was associated with the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at the Ohio State University ( The Kirwan Institute Race Talk blog has since been archived (though the organization still blogs under a different means). While I did not start blogging under the umbrella of Orgcomplexity until 2012, my time at the Kirwan Institute and the Race solidified my desire to work in progressive policy. My blog was framed smack dab within the frenzy of “new hope” with POTUS’ first historic election to the nation’s highest office. Today the pundits argue, with chests of puffins, debating Syria, debt ceilings, Tea Party Patriots, of gun permits for the blind, repealing Obama-care and partaking in political gridlock masquerading as “progress” during Obama’s second term of office. So I have read about the bird called a puffin. The puffin’s social organization is the epitome of homophily, finding securing in large groups of like puffins. When said puffin is approached by an intruder, the puffin hunkers in, spreading wings in a display of “I ain’t buying what you’re selling” coupled with a little kicking and wrestling to gain the upper hand. We, political animals, like a good fight not unlike the curious puffins of the colony surrounding the fight to get a little peek at the action. The “new hope” was lent an unfortunate dose of political reality. I thought that it would be appropriate to resurrect that blog today. You may then decide whether there will be “Get out of Jail card” toward political civility.

“Has the Talented Tenth Arrived with Obama or is it a dream deferred?”
By Michele Battle-Fisher, Graduate Research Associate at the Kirwan Institute (at the time of the writing of this piece)
I, along with many citizens, listened with great anticipation to hear President Obama’s speech to the combined Congressional assembly on February 24, 2009. His eloquence was apparent, but I had another issue in mind. How can others in the black community find venues to voice concerns to such a captive audience as he? Perhaps if WEB Dubois were still with us today, he would shout to the rafters “the talented tenth has arisen!” The idea of the “Talented Tenth” espouses that there will be a select number of leaders of color who will serve as the rhetors of the black nation.
They will be articulate.
They will have the best education offered and the capacity to think and express.
They will be given the credibility by others to assume such a position.
Historic election- check.
But though I was moved by the President’s words, I was most moved by the young black student who wrote her letter to Congress and was given a hero’s greeting while sitting next to the First Lady. Poised with the nation’s eyes upon her, she simply asked the legislators that she should no longer be deemed invisible. She, like many other young people, seek hope for a better future but sadly realize that grave injustices still exist that can deter that dream. Yes, she simply asks for parity without the worries of substandard social conditions that could get in her way. I wish her the opportunity to assume her role as a “rhetor” for young people of color, a role she never would have imagined when she penned her letter. This is if she accepts that challenge.

Please reference the Kirwan Institute blog as well as Orgcomplexity when mentioning or reposting this work.

Battle-Fisher, M. (March 4, 2009). Has the “Talented Tenth” already arrived with Obama or is it still a dream deferred? The Kirwan Institute (for the Study of Race and Ethnicity) Blog. Retrieved from
“Fratercula cirrhata- tufted puffin”. Retrieved on September 15, 2013 from


About Michele Battle-Fisher

This is an archive of the Orgcomplexity Blog. Please follow me at the following sites: Michele Battle-Fisher (Facebook author page) mbattlefisher (Twitter) michele.battle.fisher (Skype) Author Website

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s