Race, Racism, and American Law, Fourth Edition


This major revision of a groundbreaking casebook sets the foundation for an intriguing course in civil rights or race and the law. Now accompanied by a Teacher's Manual for the first time, RACE, RACISM, AND AMERICAN LAW, Fourth Edition, is a penetrating and provocative analysis of the role of race in American law and society by the noted author and the originator of critical race theory.

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This major revision of a groundbreaking casebook sets the foundation for an intriguing course in civil rights or race and the law. Now accompanied by a Teacher's Manual for the first time, RACE, RACISM, AND AMERICAN LAW, Fourth Edition, is a penetrating and provocative analysis of the role of race in American law and society by the noted author and the originator of critical race theory.

This scrupulously revised casebook now offers:

  • an appendix of lightly edited historical and contemporary cases for instructors who prefer a fuller case treatment
  • expanded coverage that includes Latino and Asian minorities
  • commentary on the Supreme Court's conception of a 'color-blind' society and its effects on voting, employment, and affirmative action
  • discussion of Professor Lani Guinier's views on proportional representation
  • consideration of the disproportionately high percentage of blacks and Hispanics in American prisons
  • an examination of the role of the media in propagating societal fear of minorities
  • new cases in employment discrimination
  • analysis of the impact of the technological age on workers with minimal skills
Bell uses a wide range of materials to convey important points:
  • Interdisciplinary excerpts from historical, sociological, and psychological publications provide comprehensive coverage of all aspects of the subject.
  • In each chapter, creative hypothetical exercises in consciousness-raising help students realize the insidious nature and complex consequences of racism in the United States.
  • Seminal cases from the annals of history show the relevance of past events to contemporary race relations.
  • Original critical race theory supplies essential perspective while allowing students to reach their own conclusions.
If you haven't already used Derrick Bell's pioneering casebook, this all-new edition and its helpful Teacher's Manual will make you want to reconsider. Repeat users will be able to revitalize their presentation through the updated, expanded content and new Appendix of cases that still preserve the distinctive character of the book.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780735512023
  • Publisher: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business
  • Publication date: 4/28/2000
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 1034
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.48 (h) x 1.67 (d)

Meet the Author

Derrick Bell
Derrick Bell
A foremost legal and social thinker, Derrick Bell began challenging conventions with his now classic text Race, Racism and American Law. In his fictional allegorical stories and stimulating essays, Bell explores the fault lines in our social fabric and ways to repair them.


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.

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Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Preface to the Fourth Edition


Chapter 1: The Nomenclature of Race

1.1. Introduction

1.2. Race: A Modern-Day Phenomenon

1.3. Race as Biology

1.4. Racial Essence

1.5. Sociohistorical Constructions of Race

1.6. Choice in Racial Identity

1.7. Choice and the Implication of Multiraciality

1.8. Conclusion

Chapter 2: American Racism and the Use of History

2.1. Introduction

2.2. Racism Hypo: African Americans and the Afrolantics Opportunity

2.3. An Overview of Black History

2.4. The Emancipation of Proclamation

2.5. Abolition of Slavery in Northern States

2.6. Slavery in America

2.7. Slavery and the Conflict of Laws

2.8. The Dred Scott Case

2.9. Slavery and the Founding Fathers

2.10. The Origin and Development of Slavery Compromise

2.11. The Principle of the Involuntary Sacrifice

2.12. The Civil War Amendments and Civil Rights Acts

2.13. The Lessons of the First Reconstruction

2.14. Understanding Racism Based on the Nineteenth-Century Experience

2.15. Reparations for Racism

2.16. Emigration as an Answer

2.17. A New Racial Realism

Chapter 3: Racism and Other 'Nonwhites'

3.1. Introduction

3.2. The Indian

3.3. Nonwhite Natives in Other Lands

3.4. Nonblack Racial Minorities in the United States

Chapter 4: Color-Blind Constitutionalism: A Rediscovered Rationale

4.1. Introduction

4.2. The Racial Platitude of Plessy's New Day

4.3. A Politically Motivated Reversal of Judicial Precedent

4.4. The Courts Adopt Color-Blindness

4.5. A Critical Race Theory Critique of Color-Blindness

Chapter 5: The Quest for Effective Schools

5.1. The Separate School/Integrated School Cycle in the Nineteenth Century

5.2. Extracting Equality from the 'Separate but Equal' Doctrine

5.3. Brown v. Board of Education

5.4. The Green/Swann/Keyes Breakthrough

5.5. The Road from Swann

5.6. The Neutral Principle of Race In Brown

5.7. School Finance

5.8. Single-Race Schools: Retrograde or Renaissance

5.9. Charter Schools and School Vouchers

5.10. Black Colleges and the Desegregation Dilemma

5.11. Racism Hypo: Excluded White Applicants v. Howard University School of Dentistry

5.12. Minority Admissions and the Usual Price of Racial Remedies

5.13. From Affirmative Action to New Challenges on Traditional Admissions Criteria

Chapter 6: Public Facilities: Symbols of Subordination

6.1. Segregation Statutes: Methods and Motivations

6.2. The Supreme Court's Nineteenth-Century Approval of Segregation

6.3. Justice Bradley Reconsiders the Fourteenth Amendment

6.4. The Supreme Court's Mid-Twentieth-Century Rejection of Segregation

6.5. Racism Hypo: ACLU v. Harmonia Prison Authority

6.6. Title II, Its Development and Potential

6.7. The Private Club Exemption

6.8. The Private Club Exemption and State Action

6.9. Private Clubs and Public Tax Subsidies

6.10. Private Facilities and Section 1981

6.11. Racial Discrimination in the Marketplace

6.12. Public Facility Bias: Testers to the Rescue Chapter 7: Interracial Sex and Marriage 7.1. Defining the Contemporary Miscegenation Problem 7.2. The Rise and Decline of Miscegenation Laws 7.3. The Motivations of Miscegenation Policy 7.4. Black Opposition to Interracial Love and Marriage 7.5. Interracial Couples and Employment Discrimination 7.6. Interracial Couples and Housing Discrimination 7.7. Religious Belief and Interracial Social Contact 7.8. Interracial Influences on Custody Cases 7.9. Racism Hypo: The Color-Blind Adoption Act 7.10. Interracial Adoptions Chapter 8: Property Barriers and Fair Housing Laws 8.1. Introduction 8.2. The Restrictive Covenant Cases 8.3. Use of Referenda and Initiatives to Eliminate Civil Rights 8.4. Section 1982 8.5. Racism Hypo: Town and Country Fair Housing, Inc. v. RIGHT ON Home Mortgage Co. 8.6. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 8.7. Damages for Intangible Injury in Housing Discrimination Cases

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