Faces at the Bottom of the Well (Paperback)

The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell, Michelle Alexander (Foreword by)

Basic Books, 9781541645530, 304pp.

Publication Date: October 30, 2018

List Price: 17.99*
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The classic work on American racism and the struggle for racial justice, now with a new foreword by Michelle Alexander

In Faces at the Bottom of the Well, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail 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. "Freed of the stifling rigidity of relying unthinkingly on the slogan 'we shall overcome,'" he writes, "we are impelled both to live each day more fully and to examine critically the actual effectiveness of traditional civil rights remedies."

With a new foreword by Michelle Alexander, Faces at the Bottom of the Well is urgent and essential reading on the problem of racism in America.

About the Author

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.

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

"Eerily prophetic, almost haunting, and yet at the same time oddly reassuring."—Michelle Alexander, from the Foreword

"Effective...chilling."—New York Times Book Review

"A disturbing but ultimately inspiring book."—San Francisco Chronicle