Let me give you a different view of this from a mixed-race and ethnicity Asian person: Bell offers a pragmatic view of the world for many people of color that describes it as it is.
Around '90, I was accepted to several Ivy League graduate schools. During that same period, Bell resigned from his Ivy League position as a professor of law, stating that the continuous lack of regard for women of color was deliberate, and that Ivy League universities deliberately keep women of color out of higher level settings.
Now, as a nonwhite female--Asian! ( I would certainly NOT put us in the 'white' category, and I know that Bell didn't as some of his writing reflects his belief that not just Black women but a wide range of women of color were getting screwed)--this immediately rang true for me. It described my entire life up to that point, including the fact that my performance needed to be higher than any white person's to be accepted at that level. Also, I noted that other POCs felt the same way I did---somebody was finally sticking up for us, and noticing that a number of very heavy feet are consistently and deliberately deployed to our necks to make sure that, no matter how high our performance, we are NEVER actually afforded opportunity.
So, this is PRAGMATIC FOR US. I have lived an entire life--and a career in part in C suites--watching white people accept rewards of all kinds that a wide range of POCs of all genders were (and are!) actually earning.
Any lack of willingness to face white privilege will continue to butt up against reality: white privilege has ruined some of our lives by consistently taking from us what we have earned and handing it to white pp. This persists, just as Bell explained years ago, and it describes what we believe to be our lived lives very well. We shouldn’t expect that our children will be subjected to this same appalling behavior, yet we must because white pp refuse to center the fact of their privilege.
Maybe we are talking about a minority at the top. Why so much effort to keep higher performing people of color, especially women, from those zero-sum positions?
The answer to that is 500 years of white supremacy. Many of us remember Derrick Bell, and we remember him fondly. I still read his books because he called out REALITY: he was willing to point to white people and acknowledge that their privilege, at competitive levels, comes at the overt and covert expense of a wide range of people of color. It still does.
Of course, none of this response--Bell's or mine--would be needed at all if equality actually existed. He is needed because persistently, white people as a group continue to finagle holding on to other people's assets, inclusive of raises, promotions, executive positions and rewards. When these are conferred appropriately, we won't need to speak up anymore.