Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

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Basic Books, 1992 - History - 222 pages
19 Reviews
Imagine America on the first day of the 21st century. At the break of dawn, a thousand space ships descend from the sky, landing on the shores of the East Coast, bearing treasures of gold, safe nuclear power and detoxifying agents that could pay all debts and save the earth's environment. In exchange for these goods, guaranteed to rescue America from the excesses of its past, the Space Traders want just one thing -- to take all African Americans back to their home star.

What would our leaders do? White Americans were once capable of rationalizing Black slavery; would they be capable of justifying the trade of all African Americans to space, to improve their own lot on earth?

The situation is a chilling fantasy. But for Derrick Bell, the prominent civil rights activist and former Harvard Law School Professor, the danger is very real. In "Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism," Bell uses allegory and historical example to argue that racism has always been an integral, permanent and indestructible component of American society."A starkly existentialist vision . . . chilling. . . . The stories challenge old assumptions and then linger in the mind." "--New York Times Book Review"

"A testament of faith--faith in the importance of fighting back." "--The Nation"

"Stingingly effective....He is pushing a sort of racial existentialism...anchored in what is rather than in hopes of what will be." "--Washington Post Book World"

"Even the unconverted will have to admit that the fictional parables that function as his sermons are powerful in their eloquence." "--Los Angeles Times Book Review"


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Review: Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism

User Review  - Kimsuccess - Goodreads

I really enjoyed this book and will probably re-read it! I was inspired by the story of a people coming together to leave. Read full review

Review: Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism

User Review  - Shannon Wyss - Goodreads

A very sobering portrait of the intractability of racism in the US. Bell makes a convincing case, through a series of mostly-gripping short stories, that racism is so embedded in the US that it can ... Read full review


Racial Symbols A Limited Legacy
The Afrolantica Awakening
The Racial Preference Licensing Act
The Last Black Hero
Divining a Racial Realism Theory
The Rules of Racial Standing
A Law Professors Protest
Racisms Secret Bonding
The Space Traders
Beyond Despair

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About the author (1992)

Derrick Bell, a visiting professor at New York University Law School, was dismissed by Harvard University from his position as Weld Professor of Law for refusing to end his two-year leave through which he protested the absence of minority women on the law faculty. He is also the author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well, Confronting Authority, and And We Are Not Saved.

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