In the tradition of The Twilight Zone, this bizarre, thought-provoking trilogy addresses the destiny of the world's minorities: Part I: A conservative African American politician must choose between his people's survival and appeasing his white colleagues when space aliens propose to share their profound knowledge in exchange for all black people on earth. Part II: The Virgin Mary's appearance in an inner-city housing project forces a Hispanic priest to face the hidden cultural origins of Western religion. Part III: On the dawn of the "Black Revolution," an African American couple discovers who the "real" enemy is.
The Space Traders is a science fiction short story by Derrick Bell.
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."