DERRICK BELL SILENT COVENANTS PDF

Board of Education was handed down in , many civil rights advocates believed that the decision finding public school segregation unconstitutional could become the Holy Grail of racial justice. Fifty years later, despite its legal irrelevance and the racially separate and educationally ineffective state of public schooling for most black children, Brown is still viewed by many as the perfect precedent. He notes that, despite the onerous burdens of segregation, many black schools functioned well and racial bigotry had not rendered blacks a damaged race. Given what we now know about the pervasive nature of racism, the Court should have determined--for the first time--to rigorously enforce the "equal" component of the "separate but equal" standard. Instead, the Brown decision actually enraged and energized its opponents. It stirred confusion and conflict into the always vexing question of race in a society that, despite denials and a frustratingly flexible amnesia, owes much of its growth, development, and success, to the ability of those who dominate the society to use race to both control and exploit most people, black and white.

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Brown v. Board of Education was handed down in , many civil rights advocates believed that the decision finding public school segregation unconstitutional could become the Holy Grail of racial justice. Fifty years later, despite its legal irrelevance and the racially separate and educationally ineffective state of public schooling for most black children, Brown is still viewed by many as the perfect precedent.

He notes that, despite the onerous burdens of segregation, many black schools functioned well and racial bigotry had not rendered blacks a damaged race. Given what we now know about the pervasive nature of racism, the Court should have determined—for the first time—to rigorously enforce the "equal" component of the "separate but equal" standard.

Instead, the Brown decision actually enraged and energized its opponents. It stirred confusion and conflict into the always vexing question of race in a society that, despite denials and a frustratingly flexible amnesia, owes much of its growth, development, and success, to the ability of those who dominate the society to use race to both control and exploit most people, black and white.

Racial policy, Bell maintains, is made through silent covenants—unspoken convergences of interest and involuntary sacrifices of rights—that ensure that policies conform to priorities set by policy-makers.

Blacks and whites are the fortuitous winners or losers in these unspoken agreements. The experience with Brown, Bell urges, should teach us that meaningful progress in the quest for racial justice requires more than the assertion of harms.

Strategies must recognize and utilize the interest-convergence factors that strongly influence racial policy decisions. In Silent Covenants, Bell condenses more than four decades of thought and action into a powerful and eye-opening book.

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Derrick Bell

After graduation, and after a recommendation from then United States associate attorney general William P. Rogers , Bell took a position with the civil rights division of the U. Justice Department. He was one of the few black lawyers working for the Justice Department at the time. In , the government asked him to resign his membership in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NAACP because it was thought that his objectivity, and that of the department, might be compromised or called into question. Carter and Constance Baker Motley.

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Silent Covenants: Brown v. Board of Education and the Unfulfilled Hopes for Racial Reform

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