Interest convergence thesis
Do you have information you want to share with HuffPost? Harvard Law School[ edit ] In the s, with the help of protests from black Harvard Law School students for a minority faculty member, Bell was hired to teach there. While Bell does not deny that individual white Americans can and do act on moral reasons--and specifically moral reasons that support racial justice--he does not assume that whites, as a group, will be moved to act on issues of racial justice by moral reasons alone. The policy likewise restricted black people from attending or participating in temple marriages. Derrick Bell of New York University Law School forwarded the theory of "interest convergence," meaning that white people will support racial justice only when they understand and see that there is something in it for them, when there is a "convergence" between the interests of white people and racial justice. Carter and Constance Baker Motley. Consequently, Bell faces a troubling dilemma. Professor Bell gave his pointed opinions on many issues in class, but he did not expect anyone to accept those views uncritically. He also argues that black Americans should seek remedies to racial injustices by acknowledging the interest convergence principle. 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. But such an explanation is implausible given that whites and blacks have a common evolutionary history. In another example, the issue of slavery became a lightning rod in the s among members of the Baptist General Convention, and in May , delegates from the Southern states convened in Augusta, Ga. Justice Department. Some even became his Teaching Assistants.
In this work, I make three guiding assumptions. Given these two claims, it is natural to ask whether the proposal also justifies a pragmatic version of anti-black racism. The interest convergence principle entails that groups are largely amoral, while the racial realism thesis includes the claim that black Americans should act on moral reasons.
Brown v board of education
Since their recent defeat, GOP political leaders and pundits have been licking their wounds. But if the struggle for racial justice is to preserve the dignity of black Americans, it cannot also be the case that any and all means are appropriate. It just seems that unless something's pushed, unless you litigate, nothing happens. Pragmatism is justified with respect to Bell's framework because Bell and advocates of racial justice have an objectively worthwhile aim. According to the principle, the interests of black Americans will only be promoted when they either advance or do not impede the interests of white Americans. In the next two sections, Parts I and II, I further explain and interpret Bell's interest convergence principle and racial realism thesis. Finally, in Part VI, I respond to anticipated concern that my pragmatic suggestion licenses racists to make pragmatic, yet racist assumptions to justify explicitly oppressive policies. And most social theorists and biologists agree that race is a social construct. This critical engagement, combined with his goal of "humanizing the law school experience" is best characterized as Professor Bell's "radical humanism. Bell was assigned to Mississippi. Bell does not afford white Americans, as a group, the characteristics of persons, but instead depicts them more as a force of nature with which black Americans must cope. In this Article, I argue that Bell's dilemma can be avoided if interest convergence and racial realism are understood not as truths about the social world, but as constituting a perspective that can be adopted in certain contexts for pragmatic reasons. All attempts to circumvent this problem are either unlikely or inaccurate. Professor Bell once surprised his students in a Constitutional Law Seminar by speaking in favor of a conservative white Christian male's argument for school vouchers, going so far as to criticize the tenure system which he said made professors too eager to embrace and support the status quo. Treating Bell's theoretical claims pragmatically allows black Americans to combat anti-black racism without having to posit implausible theories about race and morality or to rethink their own moral status.
But such an explanation is implausible given that whites and blacks have a common evolutionary history. The dilemma facing those who wish to adopt Bell's framework is troubling, and I hope, with this proposal, to strike a balance between grasping the truth about white supremacy in America and combating racism on the ground.
He holds that accepting interest convergence and racial realism opens up room for more creative solutions to the problems facing black Americans.
Treating Bell's theoretical claims pragmatically allows black Americans to combat anti-black racism without having to posit implausible theories about race and morality or to rethink their own moral status. While working at the LDF, Bell supervised more than school desegregation cases and spearheaded the fight of James Meredith to secure admission to the University of Mississippiover the protests of governor Ross Barnett.
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