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

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The groundbreaking, "eerily prophetic, almost haunting" work on American racism and the struggle for racial justice (Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow).

In Faces at the Bottom of the Well, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example—including the classic story "The Space Traders"—to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail, he writes, so long as the majority of whites do not see their own well-being threatened by the status quo. Bell calls on African Americans to face up to this unhappy truth and abandon a misplaced faith in inevitable progress. Only then will blacks, and those whites who join with them, be in a position to create viable strategies to alleviate the burdens of racism.

Now with a new foreword by Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, this classic book was a pioneering contribution to critical race theory scholarship, and it remains urgent and essential reading on the problem of racism in America.

ISBN-13: 9781541645530

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Basic Books

Publication Date: 10-30-2018

Pages: 304

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.90(d)

Derrick Bell (1930-2011) was a civil rights attorney, pioneering legal scholar, professor, and political activist. A full-time visiting professor at New York University Law School for over two decades, he was previously the first tenured African American professor on the faculty of Harvard Law School and the first African American dean of the University of Oregon School of Law. He is also the author of And We Are Not Saved and several other books.

Table of Contents

Foreword Michelle Alexander ix

Preface xxi

Introduction. Divining Our Racial Themes 1

1 Racial Symbols: A Limited Legacy 19

2 The Afrolantica Awakening 39

3 The Racial Preference Licensing Act 59

4 The Last Black Hero 81

5 Divining a Racial Realism Theory 111

6 The Rules of Racial Standing 137

7 A Law Professor's Protest 159

8 Racism's Secret Bonding 183

9 The Space Traders 197

Epilogue. Beyond Despair 243

Notes 251

Index 264