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Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism Paperback – October 6, 1993


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Faces At The Bottom Of The Well: The Permanence Of Racism + Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, Second Edition (Critical America (New York University Paperback)) + The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (October 6, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465068146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465068142
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination. Civil rights lawyer Geneva Crenshaw, the heroine of Bell's And We Are Not Saved (1987), is back in some of these ominous allegories, which speak from the depths of anger and despair. Bell now teaches at New York University Law School.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Bell, in the news because he is on leave from Harvard Law School to protest its never having hired a tenured black woman, has written a provocative and creative book that nicely follows his And We Are Not Saved ( LJ 8/87). His "interweaving of fact and fiction" and an "unorthodox form" make for stimulating reading and clarify for white readers the obstacles continually faced by black Americans and the miseries they endlessly endure. No other book features, as does this one, a Racial Preference Licensing Act, Racial Data Storms, Afroatlantica Emigration, Space Traders (guess who they are coming to take away?), the Anne Frank Committee, and White Citizens for Black Survival. Bell's thoughts about Minister Louis Farrakhan and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas are a contribution to the public dialog on those figures. An especially important and relevant publication for public and academic libraries.
- Katherine Dahl, Western Illinois Univ., Macomb
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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The other stories are quite good as well.
Rusty
His allegories are apt, clear, quite brilliant, cogent,readable, very much to the point, and--- I think--- definitive.
Mark Levine
There is also the hint of violence if America's blacks aren't turned over.
jmk444

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By B. Smith on March 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
I bought this after The Space Traders was adapted for the HBO film Cosmic Slop. It was a piece of fiction that got under my skin and stayed there. The book still retains its power to shock and make you think after all these years. Even Bell himself didn't agree with the conclusions of the characters in some of the scenarios but they certainly have the power to offend, provoke and make you think about how much and how little has changed.

It sad that the faux controversy about the book and Dr. Bell's work has brought out the typical responses. It's quite telling that in our "post-racial" society Dr. Bell's work still has sting.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By LeRoi Simmons on January 30, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is a great book set up in short stories written by a brilliant mind covering a multiplicity of Black people/issues. I love the way Derrick Bell teaches life's lessons from the African American world view.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Orlando Smart-Powell on December 27, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
So truthful in what it exposes, it left me with chills. It is a great companion piece to Tom Burrell's Brainwashed to see how racism in America has been woven into the very fabric of our lives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mark Levine on June 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
Anyone interested in racial matters in America over the past few decades must read both Orlando Patterson (especially The Ordeal of Integration, not his magnum opus, the very dense Slavery and Social Death, more historical and less contemporary in its focus)and Derrick Bell. They approach the subject from very different angles: Patterson largely ststistically (although he is creative in his us of statistics)and Bell--- here and in his other books--- imaginatively and (were the word not so likely to be misleading) fictionally, by way of allegory. His allegories are apt, clear, quite brilliant, cogent,readable, very much to the point, and--- I think--- definitive. I know of no other writers or analysts who approach their subject similarly, and, while I can understand traditionalists finding his angle of approach odd, I can not see any reader of this book leaving it less than stimulated, provoked, and, ultimately, persuaded. Race is a subject much written about, and often not clear-headedly. Read Derrick Bell (and, I would suggest, Orlanda Patterson) for the antidote.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. DeGruy chronicles our African American history and our contemporary experiences from important psychosocial-cultural-environmental perspectives. It is foundational for us.
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By Marla Hollis on October 17, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book itself was fantastic as far as the content and appearance. Unfortunately the owner smoked and it smelled like an ash tray which made it rather difficult to read.
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By Luther R Estes on October 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very enlightening view of racism evolution in the United States. This book should be a mandatory read for all high school students.
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50 of 79 people found the following review helpful By jmk444 on March 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell's book, Faces At the Bottom of the Well defines America's racial divide in terms of the book's subtitle; "The Permanence of Racism". Throughout the book, he uses fictional settings to illustrate his theory.
Derrick Bell was a controversial professor at Harvard Law, until he left over the school's refusal to hire a black female law professor. Harvard argued that other applicants had much stronger backgrounds and credentials, but Bell, a strong proponent of race based preferences, claimed that "diversity considerations" outweighed any "purely academic requirements."
After leaving Harvard, Bell was subsequently hired by NYU's Law School, where he continues his dual career as law professor and writer/activist.
Two of Bell's most vivid fictions involve blackmailing Space Aliens and a fictional land call Afrolantica. In the first scenario, the Aliens demand that all the blacks in America be handed over to them, so that they can be taken back to their planet. They refuse to divulge what they intend to do with America's black citizens. In exchange the remaining Americans will be given enough gold to eliminate taxes for a year and the technology needed to eradicate all of the effects of pollution. There is also the hint of violence if America's blacks aren't turned over.
In the second scenario, a fantasy about a fictional land called "Afrolantica," an island upon which only black people can survive and where white people can't even breathe, starts a controversy. Some blacks argue that all American blacks should move there and start their own nation, many whites support that plan.
Bell asks some interesting questions with this book, "How deep are the ties that bind us a nation?"...
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