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Racism And Priorities

October 04, 1992

We are writing to express our dismay at the treatment accorded "Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism" by Derrick Bell (Aug. 23).

It is not that Alex Raksin's comments in his "In Brief" review were unjust or uninformed. Rather, we could not help but be disturbed by the fact that you obviously felt that Bell's book did not merit a full-scale review, while Shelby Steele's "The Content of Our Character" did--on Page 1, no less (Sept. 30, 1990).

The difference in your treatment of these two books is all the more striking given that both books focus on the complex nature of race relations in the U.S. and that you found both important enough to excerpt in your Opinion section. One can only wonder whether Bell's forthright and maturely considered indictment of racism had something to do with the space allocated the review of "Faces."

Derrick Bell is, without question, one of the most distinguished legal scholars in this country, and his most recent publication on our worsening racial crisis deserved an in-depth consideration both as political commentary and as a significant contribution to the literature on race relations that might help us out of the crisis in which we find ourselves--especially here in Los Angeles. Both Derrick Bell and your readership could have been much better served in your handling of his book.

RICHARD YARBOROUGH, Associate Professor of English and Afro-American Studies

MELVIN L. OLIVER, Associate Professor of Sociology and Afro-American Studies

KIMBERLE CRENSHAW, Professor of Law, UCLA, WESTWOOD

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