The Derrick Bell Reader / Edition 1

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Lawyer, activist, teacher, writer: for over forty years, Derrick Bell has provoked his critics and challenged his readers with uncompromising candor and progressive views on race and class in America. A founder of Critical Race Theory and pioneer of the use of allegorical stories as tools of analysis, Bell’s extraordinary work shatters conventional legal orthodoxies and turns comfortable majoritarian myths inside out. While his writing spans several decades and addresses a myriad of topics, it has never been collected in a single volume until now.

Edited with an extensive introduction by leading critical race theorists Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic, The Derrick Bell Reader consists of fifteen thematic chapters that reflect the tremendous breadth of issues that Bell has grappled with over his phenomenal career, including affirmative action, black nationalism, and legal education and ethics. Some pieces are written in elegant expository prose, such as meditations on the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education decision; others in the narrative form for which Bell is famous, particularly his signature Geneva Crenshaw chronicles. The book also includes never before published material by Bell, including poetry and the startling letter of resignation he submitted to the dean of Harvard Law School in protest of the lack of women of color on the faculty. Together, the selections offer the most complete collection of Derrick Bell’s writing available today.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A growing number of scholars have helped us understand the law’s impact on both the major events and the minutia of our daily lives. It's safe to say, however, that few do so with the provocative verve and vigor of Derrick Bell. This volume is a must read for long-time followers of Derrick Bell’s work as well as casual readers looking for material that is both intellectually stimulating and entertaining.”
-Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,co-author of The Future of the Race

“Finally, the essence of Derrick Bell as a scholar, teacher, and activist is captured in the Derrick Bell Reader. Bell’s remarkable career, as a civil rights attorney, scholar on race and justice, and activist promoting the rights of all citizens, is fully addressed. It is a great read.”
-Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.,author of All Deliberate Speed

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814719701
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 8/1/2005
  • Series: Critical America Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 493
  • Sales rank: 586,935
  • Product dimensions: 6.04 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Delgado is Professor of Law at Seattle University and has collaborated on four previous books, including The Latino Condition, 2d edition (NYU Press, 2010), The Derrick Bell Reader (NYU Press, 2005), How Lawyers Lose Their Way: A Profession Fails Its Creative Minds, and Understanding Words That Wound.

Jean Stefancic is Research Professor of Law at Seattle University and is the author of many articles and books on civil rights, law reform, social change, including No Mercy: How Conservative Think Tanks and Foundations Changed America’s Social Agenda.

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Table of Contents

Prologue : the chronicle of the constitutional contradiction 16
Ch. 1 Economic determinism and interest convergence 25
White superiority in America : its legal legacy, its economic costs 27
Brown v. Board of Education and the interest-convergence dilemma 33
The role of fortuity in racial policy-making : blacks as fortuitous beneficiaries of racial policies 40
The racial preference licensing act 46
Ch. 2 Racial realism 55
The chronicle of the space traders 57
Racial realism 73
Who's afraid of critical race theory? 78
Racism is here to stay : now what? 85
Paul Robeson : doing the state some service 91
Ch. 3 Ethics of lawyering 97
Serving two masters : integration ideals and client interests in school desegregation litigation 99
Professor Bell discusses how to live an ethical life 110
Ch. 4 Revisionist history 115
An American fairy tale : the income-related neutralization of race law precedent 117
Reconstruction's racial realities 123
Black faith in a racist land 127
Ch. 5 Sexuality and romance 133
The entitlement 135
The last black hero 145
Shadow song 162
The southern romance temptation 169
Early bloomers 174
Ch. 6 Politics of the academy 177
The chronicle of the DeVine gift 179
Strangers in academic paradise : law teachers of color in still-white schools 190
Application of the "tipping point" principle to law faculty hiring policies 196
Memorandum to Harvard Law School appointments committee 201
Letter to Robert Clark, Dean, Harvard Law School 205
The final report : Harvard's affirmative action allegory 208
Ch. 7 Nationalism, separatism, and self-help 217
Brown v. Board of Education and the black history month syndrome 219
The real cost of racial equality 223
Time for the teachers : putting educators back into the Brown remedy 226
The chronicle of the slave scrolls 232
Shadowboxing : blacks, Jews, and games scapegoats play 238
Ch. 8 Price of racial remedies 247
The freedom of employment act 249
Diversity's distractions 254
A tragedy of timing 259
Minority admissions and the usual price of racial remedies 261
The chronicle of the sacrificed black schoolchildren 268
Ch. 9 Pedagogy 273
Humanity in legal education 275
The law student as slave 278
Pedagogical process : active classroom and text as resource 284
Victims as heroes : a minority perspective on constitutional law 290
Ch. 10 Racial standing 297
The law of racial standing 299
Thurgood Marshall 305
The racism is permanent thesis : courageous revelation or unconscious denial of racial genocide 309
Getting beyond a property in race 314
The black sedition papers 320
Wanted : a white leader able to free whites of racism 328
Ch. 11 Racism as meanness 337
Meanness as racial ideology : The Port Chicago Mutiny 339
Racial libel as American ritual 345
Fear of black crime is political tool 353
Ch. 12 Popular democracy 355
The referendum : democracy's barrier to racial equality 357
California's proposition 209 : a temporary diversion on the road to racial disaster 363
Ch. 13 Race and class 369
Racism : a major source of property and wealth inequality in America 371
A holiday for Dr. King : the significance of symbols in the black freedom struggle 378
Trying to teach the white folks 385
Ch. 14 Survival strategies 397
Redemption deferred : back to the space traders 399
The chronicle of the Amber Cloud 406
The chronicle of the Black Reparations Foundation 411
Beyond despair 417
The Afrolantica awakening 421
Ch. 15 Critiques 431
Racism as original sin : Derrick Bell and Reinhold Niebuhr's theology 433
Derrick Bell's toolkit - fit to dismantle that famous house? 446
Nomination of Derrick A. Bell, Jr., to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States 459
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