Faces at the Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell
I love the SNL skit on the weekend after Trump's election. A bunch of white liberals slowly realize that their candidate is going to lose and they moan in despair as they realize that their vision of a post-racist America was just an illusion. In the meantime, Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock knew what the outcome would be because they had a better idea what the heart of the country looked like.
Derrick Bell understood the heart of the nation from 1995, and this book is his effort to work out his realization that since the country was built on racism, you cannot have the nation without racism. It is something to live with or to run away from, but the deeply cynical conclusion is it will never disappear.
For such a depressing conclusion, it is entertainingly written, with a plethora of fictional premises, from a conversation with a character from Langston Hughes, to the story of a civil rights leader who wants to marry a white woman to the final chapter which tells a compelling science fiction story.
The premise of the story is this: Aliens finally land on the earth, but they make a proposal no one ever expected. They would leave peacefully, they said threateningly, if only the US would sell them every last African American to the invaders for a huge amount of gold, bringing the US out of their current economic depression. The question is, what would the leaders of the US choose: their pocketbook or their soul?
Bell isn't a professional writer, he is a professor of law and he writes fiction like a professor of law. But it is still entertaining, albeit a bit stiff. I both enjoyed and despaired over reading this book. I certainly won't forget it.