35 Howard L.J. 79 (1991-1992)
Racism Is Here to Stay: Now What

handle is hein.journals/howlj35 and id is 87 raw text is: Racism Is Here To Stay: Now What?

.DERRICK BELL*
You cannot possibly wish more than I that current events give
less vivid legitimacy to my seemingly gloomy title. Unfortunately, it
will not require great skill to show that the current status of black
people, considered in the light of our history, more than justifies a
conclusion that: Racism Is Here To Stay.
More difficult, but I think more importantly, I hope to show
that acknowledgement of racism's permanence, far from an invita-
tion to ultimate despair, can serve as an opportunity for new insight,
more effective planning, and a more satisfying life for all of us con-
demned by color to a subordinate status. In this land where equality
is the often-voiced ideal, property is equated with both wealth and
power.
First, let me follow my stern title with an even more harsh prin-
cipal theme. This thesis is based on history and replicated with great
fidelity in current events. Are you ready?
Black people will never gain full equality in this country. Even
those herculean efforts we hail as successful will produce no more
than temporary 'peaks of progress,' short-lived victories that slide
into irrelevance as racial patterns adapt in ways that maintain
white dominance. This is a hard-to-accept fact that all history veri-
fies. We must acknowledge it and move on. Armed with a perspec-
tive on our society that I call: 'Racial Realism,' we can insulate
ourselves from despair based on our subordinate status. We will
then be free to imagine and implement racial strategies that can
bring fulfillment and even triumph.
My thesis is jarring, I think, because for too long we have com-
* Weld Professor of Law, Harvard University. Visiting Professor, 1991-92 school year,
New York University Law School. This is a keynote address delivered by Professor Bell at the
Clyde Ferguson Lecture, Howard University School of Law, 1991.

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