1995 U. Ill. L. Rev. 893 (1995)
Who's Afraid of Critical Race Theory

handle is hein.journals/unilllr1995 and id is 907 raw text is: WHO'S AFRAID OF CRITICAL RACE
THEORY?t
Derrick A. Bell*
In this essay, originally delivered as a David C. Baum Me-
morial Lecture on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights at the Univer-
sity of Illinois College of Law, Professor Bell begins by discuss-
ing the recent debate surrounding The Bell Curve, and utilizing
the tools of critical race theory, he offers an alternative explana-
tion as to why the book's authors decided to publish rejected
theories of black inferiority. Professor Bell then discusses the
origins of critical race theory, what the theory is, what the the-
ory ought to be, and the critics' attack of the theory. He con-
cludes with stories about black struggle in America, stories
which Professor Bell believes accurately depict the ongoing ra-
cist efforts to prevent black success.
As I see it, critical race theory recognizes that revolutionizing a cul-
ture begins with the radical assessment of it.
I. INTRODUCTION
Radical assessment can encompass illustration, anecdote, alle-
gory, and imagination, as well as analysis of applicable doctrine and
authorities. At the outset, I want to utilize all of these techniques to
comment on a contemporary phenomenon: The Bell Curve.'
For the past three or four months, a great deal of attention and
energy has been devoted to commending and condemning Mr. Charles
Murray and the late Dr. Richard Herrnstein, authors of the best-sell-
ing book on racial intelligence, The Bell Curve. This book suggests
great social policy significance in the fact that black people score, on
average, fifteen points below whites on I.Q. tests.'
t This essay was originally presented on February 23, 1995, as the second lecture of
the David C. Baum Memorial Lectures on Civil Liberties and Civil Rights at the
University of Illinois College of Law.
* Visiting Professor of Law, New York University. A.B. 1952, Duquesne; L.L.B. 1957, Uni-
versity of Pittsburgh. Erin Edmonds, J.D. 1991, Harvard, provided the research for this essay.
1. John 0. Calmore, Critical Race Theory, Archie Shepp, and Fire Music: Securing an
Authentic Intellectual Life in a Multicultural World, 65 S. CAL. L. REV. 2129, 2145 (1992).
2. RICHARD J. HERRNSTEIN & CHARLES MURRAY, THE BELL CURVE: INTELLIGENCE AND
CLASS STRUCTURE IN AMERICAN LIFE (1994).
3. See id. at 317-40.

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