Faces at the bottom of the well: the permanence of racism

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BasicBooks, 1992 - Political Science - 222 pages
"Racism is an integral, permanent, and indestructible component of this society". So begins this powerful and moving book by the controversial civil rights activist and author of the acclaimed And We Are Not Saved. As he did in his earlier book, Derrick Bell drives home his point through a series of allegorical stories and encounters with fictional characters ranging from Geneva Crenshaw, the lawyer-prophet who was the heroine of And We Are Not Saved, to an anonymous limousine driver in New York; from a conservative black economist working with the White House to a radical white activist he meets in the Oregon woods. Each chapter draws on legal precedents, historical excellence, and fiction of an earlier era to shed light on some of the most perplexing and vexing issues of our day. Bell's themes include affirmative action, the disparity between civil rights law and reality, the "racist" outbursts of some black leaders, and the temptation toward violent retaliation. To elucidate these often incomprehensible issues, he invents a "Racial Preference Licensing Act", tells an interracial love story, and crafts a parable about space invaders who offer solutions to all earthly problems - and in return demand to take America's black population to their planet. Via this unique format, a blend of imagination and real experience, the book sends a sobering message: Racism is so integral a part of American life that no matter what blacks do to better their lot, they are doomed to fail as long as the majority of whites do not see that their own well-being is threatened by the inferior status of blacks. Bell calls on blacks to face up to this unhappy truth and abandon the misleading vision of "we shallovercome". Only then will blacks, and those whites who join them, be in a position to create viable strategies to alleviate the burdens of racism.

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FACES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WELL: The Permanence of Racism

User Review  - Kirkus

Here, as he did in And We Are Not Saved, Harvard Law School professor Bell offers dramatized accounts of the dilemma of race relations in America. Bell uses stories and fables to examine such themes ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - awhayouseh - LibraryThing

Bell provides a fictional platform to talk about real -life racial issues. This book helps facilitate dialogue about race in a seemless yet intelligent way. Read full review


Introduction Divining Our Racial Themes
A Limited Legacy
The Afrolantica Awakening

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About the author (1992)

A lawyer, educator, and writer, Derrick Bell was educated at both Duquesne University and Pittsburgh University. He was the first African American professor to be tenured at Harvard Law School. He was the dean of the University of Oregon Law School and a professor at the New York University Law School. Bell has held such positions as executive director of the Western Center on Law and Poverty at the University of California, counsel for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and deputy director of the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Bell has contributed writing to the following publications: Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and UCLA legal journals, Essence, Mother Jones, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, and The Christian Science Monitor. He has written Race, Racism and American Law and the story, Space Traders, which was adapted as a movie for HBO.

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