The Space Traders
Published in 1992, its subject is the arrival of apparently benevolent and powerful extraterrestrials that offer the United States a wide range of benefits such as gold, clean nuclear power and other technological advances, in exchange for one thing: handing over all black people in the U.S. to the aliens. The story posits that the people and political establishment of the U.S. are willing to make this deal, passing a referendum to enable it.
The Space Traders was adapted for television in 1994 by director Reginald Hudlin and writer Trey Ellis. It aired on HBO as the leading segment of a three-part television anthology entitled Cosmic Slop, which focused on minority-centric science fiction.
In the run-up to the 2012 U.S. presidential election, the story became the subject of political controversy. A review of the TV adaptation on the conservative news site Breitbart.com argued that it "captures the stupidity, paranoia, and shameless race-hustling of the people that [U.S. president and presidential candidate Barack] Obama embraces". In The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf replied by arguing that the story's critics "would do well to acknowledge that for many decades of American history, including years during Professor Bell's life, a majority of Americans would have voted in favor of trading blacks for fantastic wealth, unlimited energy, and an end to pollutants."
- The Space Traders title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- The Space Traders, full text of the short story
- Cosmic Slop (1994) entry on IMDB.com
- Schlichter, Kurt (8 March 2012). "Derrick Bell’s 'Space Traders' Review: Racist Paranoia ... and George Clinton's Disembodied Head". Breitbart.com.
- Friedersdorf, Colin (8 March 2012). "The Sci-Fi Story That Offends Oversensitive White Conservatives". The Atlantic. Retrieved 17 March 2012.