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Bell, Derrick

Entry updated 20 September 2021. Tagged: Author.

(1930-2011) US lawyer, academic and author, a central figure in the creation of what became known as "critical race theory", the argument that racism – which as a Black lawyer he had been involved in combating – was so inherent in American society that apparent reductions in segregation and discrimination would be cosmetic. The basic institutional racism of America, he argued, would inevitably reassert itself to the advantage of the already advantaged.

Though he wrote some other sf stories, Bell is of widespread interest for a Satirical novelette, "The Space Traders", first published in his Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism (coll 1992). An Alien civilization visits Earth, and proposes a deal to the American government and people: in return for certain gifts – a planet rescued from Ecological degradation, a new and nearly infinitely renewable Power Source, and so on – America need only hand over its 20,000,000 Black people in chains (see Race in SF). Their fate will be unknown. After much revealing debate, the bargain is eventually struck. [JC]

Derrick Albert Bell, Jr

born Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: 6 November 1930

died New York: 5 October 2011

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