This Article considers Professor Bell’s legacy as a pioneer of critical race theory. The Author first looks back at Professor Bell’s scholarship and the controversy that surrounded it. The author briefly survey’s Bells contributions to tell a tale of personal struggle against hegemonic systems of injustice base on race and/or other axes of identities. The special alchemy of Bell’s intellectual work and personal experience led him to insights and conclusions that stirred unprecedented controversy among minority and allied scholars. For more than a quarter century he labored to help foment awareness of racial inequality and promote solidarity in the face of massive regression.
The Author then looks forward to Bell’s impact on ongoing critical outsider projects. His pioneering practices helped to craft a kind of insurgent resistance against multiple forms of subordination through intellectual and personal activism. Carrying on in his footsteps, current critical outsider scholars examine emerging issues involving gender, sexuality, and similar identity constructs. For example, they increasingly have examined the interplay of poverty and globalization, and how these phenomena correlate transnationally to race, ethnicity, gender, and other identity categories. Similarly, they have engaged arguments about “color blindness” and “post-racialism” that gained currency and notoriety during the 1990s and 2000s. These issues, in tandem with the ongoing work of the past several decades spearheaded by critical pioneers like Bell, constitute a key part of critical outsider scholars’ research agenda—a continuing campaign of resistance to backlash and regression that Professor Bell helped to create and guide through his own personal choices. Returning time and again to Derrick Bell’s biography and body of work provides manifold lessons, insights, and techniques for coping ethically with the bottom lines of critical realism for a lifetime of academic and social activism.
Francisco Valdes, CRITICAL RACE ACTION: QUEER LESSONS AND SEVEN LEGACIES FROM THE ONE AND ONLY PROFESSOR BELL, 36 W. New Eng. L. Rev. 109 (2014), https://digitalcommons.law.wne.edu/lawreview/vol36/iss2/2