BN.com Gift Guide

Gospel Choirs: Psalms of Survival in an Alien Land Called Home

Overview

Through parables and essays, Derrick Bell offers an eloquent work of social commentary on the permanence of racism.“Gospel,” says Derrick Bell, “and particularly the gospel choir at its best, echoes the tempos of the soul searching for God’s peace in the midst of a hostile world.”Just like the songs of a gospel choir, the pieces in this book give voice to the hardships faced by African Americans. Through allegorical stories and fictional encounters, dreams, and dialogues, it presents fresh perspectives on the ...

See more details below
Paperback (Reprint)
$12.17
BN.com price
(Save 9%)$13.50 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (12) from $1.99   
  • New (3) from $9.34   
  • Used (9) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Through parables and essays, Derrick Bell offers an eloquent work of social commentary on the permanence of racism.“Gospel,” says Derrick Bell, “and particularly the gospel choir at its best, echoes the tempos of the soul searching for God’s peace in the midst of a hostile world.”Just like the songs of a gospel choir, the pieces in this book give voice to the hardships faced by African Americans. Through allegorical stories and fictional encounters, dreams, and dialogues, it presents fresh perspectives on the different issues that concern Blacks, such as the message of The Bell Curve, the Contract with America, the media’s handling of Black men, and corporate greed’s responsibility for today’s rising “White rage” and subsequent “Black blame.” Despite their tough subjects, however, these stories resound with laughter and compassion and a continuing theme of Christian love. Ultimately, like the gospel songs, they offer African Americans hope and direction as they travel the racist world they inhabit.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Can gospel music-emanating from black culture but speaking with a universal optimism-be employed to find solutions to the poverty and racial hostility that constitute black America's "greatest crisis since the end of Reconstruction?" In this innovative collection of essays and parables that include his fictional lawyer Geneva Crenshaw (this is the third of his Geneva Chronicles, after Faces at the Bottom of the Well), legal scholar Bell uses storytelling and gospel music references to attempt new insights. His style sometimes devolves into didactic speechifying or predictable dissing (taking on Rush Limbaugh types), but he makes resonant points. He criticizes what he sees as the spurious logic behind the Contract with America and The Bell Curve. He reminds us of the rich legacy of those, like Paul Robeson, who dissented from black leadership. He imagines himself in a race riot, after which fellow blacks find liberation by reinterpreting the racist slogan "Nigger Free" as symbol rather than curse. Most interesting are his characters' modest proposals for a monitor to tax America's use of "cultural expressions of subordinated peoples of color," and for a shield to ensure nonexploitive sex among black folk. In the end, Bell's somewhat scattershot approach to issues is more metaphorical than practical, but that's why he's chosen this alternative style, and his voice still has wisdom. Author tour. (June)
Library Journal
As controversial as ever, Bell (Confronting Authority, LJ 9/15/94) has written a series of parables using fictional characters to voice his progressive views. He blasts racism, the Republicans' Contract with America, and The Bell Curve; he makes a statement on affirmative action and comments briefly on the October 1995 Million Man March in Washington, D.C. His first story concerns a bizarre tale of aliens he calls "space traders" who have come to Earth to take away all African Americans. The next tale is a debate with a fictitious conservative talk-show host named Biff Rightwing, whose ruthless audience forces Bell to defend himself. In subsequent chapters, he has several conversations with a limo driver named Jesse Semple, who becomes his mentor and speaks candidly on the issues of the day. In the meantime he is watched over constantly by Geneva Crenshaw, who's like his guardian angel. He also touches on relationships between the sexes, giving a boost to black women for their strength, courage, and understanding. Even though careless editing puts a damper on the smooth flow of these essays, the book has merit for African American collections and academics with a sense of humor.-Ann Burns, "Library Journal"
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465024131
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 5/30/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 976,466
  • Product dimensions: 0.55 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 8.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Derrick Bell

Derrick Bell, a visiting professor at New York University Law School, was dismissed by Harvard University from his position as Weld Professor of Law for refusing to end his two-year leave through which he protested the absence of minority women on the law faculty. He is also the author of Faces at the Bottom of the Well, Confronting Authority, and And We Are Not Saved.

Biography

Renowned as the professor who gave up his tenured position at the Harvard Law School in protest of the university's lack of minority women faculty members, Derrick Bell is also an innovative, insightful and unorthodox scholar and writer. Bell, now a professor at New York University's School of Law, helped pioneer a new style of narrative scholarship, mixing allegory and anecdote together with analysis and fact.

Bell was born in 1930 in Pittsburgh, where he was the first member of his family to go to college. After serving in the U.S. Air Force in Korea, he entered the University of Pittsburgh Law School with the goal of becoming a civil rights lawyer. He began his legal career at the Justice Department, then was recruited by Thurgood Marshall to join the Legal Defense and Education Fund of the NAACP. In 1971, Bell became the first black tenured professor at Harvard Law School.

Bell published Race, Racism and American Law, now a standard law school text, in 1973. Its critique of traditional civil rights legislation helped spark the academic movement toward critical race theory, in which scholars such as Richard Delgado, Kimberle Crenshaw and Kendall Thomas sought new paradigms for understanding and addressing racial injustice. The book's fourth edition appeared in 2000.

As a writer, Bell is best known for his series of books featuring the fictional civil rights leader Geneva Crenshaw. The books, which include And We Are Not Saved, Faces at the Bottom of the Well, Gospel Choirs, and Afrolantica Legacies, interweave fables and philosophical dialogues with Bell's analyses of legal history. "I suppose there would be a problem if everyone wrote about race in the Derrick Bell style," Jeremy Waldron wrote in a New York Times review of Gospel Choirs. "We need analysis and we need social science as much as dream, dialogue and narrative. But we would certainly be the poorer if no one wrote like this; for even to be disconcerted by Mr. Bell's technique is to open oneself to the challenge of his thesis and the soaring power of the music that sustains it."

At the age of 70, after a lifetime of passionate commitment to social justice, Bell wrote Ethical Ambition: Living a Life of Meaning and Worth. The book draws on the lives of role models like Martin Luther King, Jr., Paul Robeson, and Medgar Evers, as well as on Bell's own life, to explore what it means to live and work with integrity, dignity and compassion. "We live in a system that espouses merit, equality, and a level playing field, but exalts those with wealth, power, and celebrity, however gained," Bell writes. His own accomplishments are an inspiration to the brave souls willing to buck that system.

Good To Know

Bell gave up his tenured position at Harvard Law School in 1992, when he refused to return from the two-year, unpaid leave of absence he took to protest the school's failure to hire and tenure minority women.

Bell had launched a similar protest before, while serving as dean of the Oregon Law School. He resigned his Oregon position in 1985 after the faculty directed that he not extend an offer to an Asian-American faculty candidate who was third on the list for a faculty position. When the top two candidates (both white males) declined the position, the law faculty decided to reopen the search rather than hire the Asian-American woman.

In 1994, the story "Space Traders" from Bell's book Faces at the Bottom of the Well was made into an HBO movie starring Robert Guillaume.

President Barack Obama was a student of Bell's at Harvard Law School.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Prologue 1
1 Redemption Deferred: Back to the Space Traders 17
2 Trying to Teach the White Folks 29
3 Living with the Specter of Calhoun 49
4 Staying "No Ways Tired" 60
5 The Freedom of Employment Act 74
6 Shadow Song 91
7 The Mentality of Race 103
8 Nigger Free 115
9 Racial Royalties 141
10 Women to the Rescue 152
11 The Electric Slide Protest 164
12 Equality's Child 174
13 The Entitlement 188
14 The Gospel Light 203
Acknowledgments 215
Notes 217
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)