...and then my browser closed and got rid of it. I guess that's what I get for not saving. This was better before than it probably will be this time.
I dislike everything about this book and Derrick Bell, except that I agree with some of his points. And I dislike him all the more because of that.
So, y’all know I love this book. And although I am not sure that Bell’s leaving Harvard in protest in 1992 helped to improve race relations at Harvard, I understand why he did it. My favorite quote from Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism and a bit of commentary:
"What we designate as 'racial progress' is not a solution to that problem [(living "beyond the pale of the American Dream")]. It is a regeneration of the problem in a particularly perverse form" (3).
The first chapter of Faces at the Bottom of the Well by Derrick Bell “Racial Symbols: A Limited Legacy” really resonated with me because it brings up a lot of points that I make when I discuss President Obama with my relatives. I have one uncle who, whenever anyone in the family brings up a problem related to anything from politics to the economy to simply the amount of traffic in the city where we live, teasingly responds, “I don’t care. Do you know why?
In reading through Williams's work, I was especially interested in her discussions of law school curriculum. I never had an interest in it myself, but I had a number of friends who went from English degrees into law school because they had the sort of critical writing and reading and analyzing skills needed to succeed in the field. Looking at Williams' discussion of the law school tests, though, seemed to paint a very different picture. Like, what is this shit? (84-85). Calculating the tax implications of slavery?
Reading this text so closely after coming back from a trip to Atlanta brought a lot of these issues closer than what I would have expected. Close enough that I got angry. Don and I were talking about this. It’s like “internet” angry—those posts on Facebook that you tell yourself you’ll never respond to, but can’t help it and fifteen posts later you can’t believe how hard you are pounding the keyboard. Yeah. So I’m not going to make this post that angry. But seriously?
I mentioned last week at the end of class that I didn't like Williams' book. Let me rephrase that–it's more of a style issue that I have. The personal insertion of the author is something I've long detested, and this goes way beyond my discomfort with personal narratives. This is a matter of "how much is too much"–where does it end? Can I talk about my bowel movements and how they were related to my writing process in my thesis? How about the time I threw up when I was 4 upon eating spaghetti for the first time?
I had a post all planned out and then I made the mistake of reading Don's post.
He said pretty much what I was going to say about wondering whether the academy or the public appreciates such work, except that he said it better. So, uh, I guess I'll just sort of soldier on or cowboy up or whatever the inappropriately masculinized term implying I have a gun and I'm not afraid to use it is.
I have to admit that as much as I love the schizophrenic pace of Patricia Williams' The Alchemy of Race and Rights, I found myself needing to put the book down on more than one occasion. Anger is the main reason, followed closely by frustration and a sense of helplessness. You see, I’ve been “that woman” in a department store in the South where the cashier wouldn’t wait on me because I was Black. Regardless of the fact that I was ready to make the large purchase, a large leather tote by one of my favorite designers, and I guess she didn’t notice the fact that I already had one on my arm.