What happens when you become antiracists. I woke up early today and wrote a series of what I call what happens. Derrick Bell was to blame. I wanted to use them to teach my daughter about symbols, about failure, about questions, about life in general, but most of all what happens when she becomes anti-racist. I finally got to the end of Derrick Bells ‘Faces at the Bottom of the Well’ and I couldn’t help but now become a true believer in the permanence of racism.
It’s a bitter pill to swallow, this idea that justice for faces at the bottom of the well can’t actually be won in the United States. I bought this book last year at the height of all the racial reckoning and kept keeping it at a distance, not ready to confront the reality I knew was nestled within the pages of this book. Until this weekend. This weekend, I confronted the bitter truth of racism in America with the finest legal scholar that ever lived. I can see why people laughed it off when he once shared his opinion. Few people are prepared to confront this harsh reality about life in this country. ‘If racism is permanent, what is the point of the struggle’ as Michelle Alexander points out in her foreword. Granted accepting the permanence of racism does not mean accepting racism itself. Bell himself suggested this as well. His book has so many truths lurking for today, especially whether the battle can ever be won. And so for those who choose to become antiracists, know these truths about racism stated so eloquently by Derrick Bell:
That the cause is greater for those who choose hope rather than despair.
Those who recognize the futility of action and the conviction that something must still be done.
Those who know racism is permanent, not fleeting.
Those who see it in their real lives, not in sentimental minds.
Those who choose survival, rather than being silent.
Those who choose light rather than darkness.
Those who choose freedom rather than bondage.
Those who know there is no giving up, even as history continues to unfold.
Those who choose to be counted as antiracists for as long as racism exists.
For them, there is still hope, still meaning, even in this struggle to become antiracists.