Faces at the Bottom of the Well

Faces at the Bottom of the Well Summary

The groundbreaking, "eerily prophetic, almost haunting" work on American racism and the struggle for racial justice (Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow).

In Faces at the Bottom of the Well, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example—including the classic story "The Space Traders"—to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail, he writes, 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.

Now with a new foreword by Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow, this classic book was a pioneering contribution to critical race theory scholarship, and it remains urgent and essential reading on the problem of racism in America.



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