Faces at the bottom of the well : the permanence of racism



Transcription of Annotations

Notes on front endpapers: Dr. King Holiday; Barbados. Notes/underlinings: Mrs. Biona MacDonald--"I can't speak for everyone, but as for me, I am an old woman. I lives to harass white folks." Slavery. 1977 TV version of Alex Haley's biographical novel, Roots. Civil Rights gains, so hard won, are being steadily eroded. Slow advances African Americans made during the '60s and '70s have definitely been reversed. 10 provisions in the Constitution directly or indirectly provided for slavery, protected slave owners. 1970s/80s families with incomes of $35,00 to $50,000 increased from 23.3 to 27.5%--proportion with incomes above $50,000 increased by 38 percent from 10.0 to 13.8 percent. Inner city, American equivalent of South African homelands. Heavy dose of Horatio Alger myth as answer to blacks' problems. Racial bias in the pre-Brown era was stark, open, unalloyed with hypocrisy and blank-faced lies. Blacks, when rejected, knew enemies. They were not us! Today, bias masked in unofficial practices and neutral standards, must wrestle with the question whether race or some individual prompted our being rejected as tenants for an apartment. Conservative guru Kevin Phillips--top two million income earners in this country earn more than the next one hundred million. Racial bonding. Color determines the social, economic status of all African Americans. Native Americans. Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even those herculean efforts we hail as successful will produce only temporary "peaks of progress"--short lived victories that slide into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain white dominance. Hard-to-accept fact that all history verifies. Must acknowledge not as submission, but as an act of ultimate defiance. African Americans must confront our permanent subordinate status. Must move beyond comforting belief that time and the generosity of its people will eventually solve America's racial problem. Racism a permanent component of American life. Bell enjoys getting out his unorthodox views on racism--money always welcome. Problems of "our people." Your people. Your bitterness mirrors my own when I think about all the school systems. John Hope Franklin, Vincent Harding, Mary Berry, Nathan Huggins, Eugene Genovese, Leon Litwack, C. Vann Woodward. Malcolm X, Medgar Evers. Marcus Garvey, Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois. Views of taxi driver Jesse Semple: More black people out of work now than at any time since slavery. Horrendous social problems, eroded tax bases, departed businesses, dispirited civil servants, black mayors blamed for disasters that were bound to happen given the way whites ran the city when blacks had no control. Jesse Jackson--still hoping to laugh with him right into the White House. Given plenty of reasons for pride, made some mistakes--whites won't let him forget. Jackson is an important symbol for black people. Hopes Jackson will run again. Bell says we need a white Jesse Jackson. Semple doesn't see whites getting smart about race. Marcus Garvey--pardoned by President Calvin Coolidge. Experience of slavery or segregation. Racial Preference Licensing Act. Need to push for more money, more effective plans for curriculum in all-black schools rather than exhaust ourselves /resources on ethereal integration in mainly white suburbs. Jason Warfield. Racism, a permanent part of the American landscape. White Citizens for Black Survival--WCBS. Maceo Hubbard--when white folks ask you for an evaluation of another black--no matter how you say it, you can hurt the brother, but you can't help him. No accident that white writers have dominated recording of race relations; they are considered the more objective commentators on racial issues. Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Glenn Loury, Shelby Steele. Professor Stephen Carter. Louis Farrakhan--match for condescending white talk-show hosts who consider themselves very intelligent, certainly smarter than any black man. Rep. Charles B. Rangel. No amount of public prophecy, no matter its accuracy can repeal the Rules of Racial Standing or prevent their operation. Harvard, 196 black professors. Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois--Fisk University. 10% of Harvard undergraduates are black. 1988-1989 school year, 15 of 957 tenured faculty black. 26 blacks among 2,265 tenure-line faculty positions. 1988 study--1/3 of law schools no black faculty members. Number of Blacks receiving doctorates declined 1116 to 820. 10% of Harvard's faculty and administrators should be black, Hispanic, or Native American. In '60s applied for teaching Harvard positions twice. In 1969 vigorous recruitment came about after the riots followed Martin Luther King's assassination. Critical legal studies. Resigned University of Oregon Law School deanship in 1985 to protest faculty's failure to offer a position to an Asian-American applicant. Legal profession a mess, high percentage of lawyers unhappy with their work. Must fashion a philosophy that matches the unique dangers we face, enables us to recognize dangers. Hope rather than despair. Must recognize/acknowledge that actions are not likely to lead to transcendent change and may help the despised system rather than the victims.


Bell, Derrick A, “Faces at the bottom of the well : the permanence of racism,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed December 6, 2022, http://booknotes.gmu.edu/items/show/222.


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Faces at the bottom of the well : the permanence of racism


Bell, Derrick A


Program air date: November 15, 1992.


The message of Bell's book is that "racism is an integral, permanent, and indestructible component of this society." He contends that blacks "are doomed to fail as long as the majority of whites do not see their own well-being threatened by the status quo."--Cover.


"Racism--United States."
"African Americans--Civil rights."


Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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