In Faces at the Bottom of the Well, civil rights activist and legal scholar Derrick Bell uses allegory and historical example to argue that racism is an integral and permanent part of American society. African American struggles for equality are doomed to fail 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. "Freed of the stifling rigidity of relying unthinkingly on the slogan 'we shall overcome,'" he writes, "we are impelled both to live each day more fully and to examine critically the actual effectiveness of traditional civil rights remedies."
With a new foreword by Michelle Alexander, Faces at the Bottom of the Well is urgent and essential reading on the problem of racism in America.