Part I develops Bell's thesis that racism is permanent, an ineradicable structure in American life. Bell's stance here is unrelenting and a direct and deep challenge to liberal notions of racial progress. This section draws out the social facts Bell provides about the status of Blacks in American society and examines Bell's argument for the continuing disparity between the races, particularly the claim that Whites hold on to a property in Whiteness. Part II analyzes Bell's call for action despite racism's permanence. Part III develops Niebuhr's theology of the possibility of action despite sin. Niebuhr too criticizes the liberal-and liberal theological- belief in continuing progress; for Niebuhr, evil is not overcome. Part IV returns to Bell and assesses his religious orientation and the degree it may be receptive to Niebuhr's theology. Part of the assessment here will be whether Bell's stance is more existential rather than religious. Part V concludes by examining some of the larger implications of Bell's thesis: the continuation of deep structures that resist characterization simply as social constructions. Reference will be briefly drawn to the contributions of Bell and critical race theory to a movement beyond nonfoundationalism. Because the Article intends to offer additional grounds for the comprehension of Bell's conundrum-that racism is permanent and yet must be continually fought-the goal is understanding, not criticism. I hence assume Bell's thesis throughout.
George H. Taylor,
Racism as "The Nation's Crucial Sin": Theology and Derrick Bell,
Mich. J. Race & L.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mjrl/vol9/iss2/1