Racism in the United States

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Racism in the United States traces negative attitudes and views relating to race or ethnicity held by various people and groups in the United States which have been reflected at various times in discriminatory laws, practices and actions (including violence) against racial or ethnic groups. Throughout United States history, white Americans have in general enjoyed legally or socially sanctioned privileges and rights which have at various times been denied to members of various ethnic or minority groups. European Americans, particularly affluent white Anglo-Saxon Protestants, are said to have enjoyed advantages in matters of education, immigration, voting rights, citizenship, land acquisition, bankruptcy, and criminal procedure.[1]:231

Racism against various ethnic or minority groups has existed in the United States since the colonial era. African Americans in particular have faced restrictions on their political, social, and economic freedoms throughout much of United States history. Native Americans have suffered genocide, forced removals, and massacres, and they continue to face discrimination. Non-Protestant immigrants from Europe, particularly Jews, Irish people, Poles, and Italians, were often subjected to xenophobic exclusion and other forms of ethnicity-based discrimination.[2] In addition, East, South, and Southeast Asians along with Pacific Islanders have also been discriminated against.[3] Hispanics have continuously experienced racism in the United States despite the fact that many of them have European ancestry.[4] Middle Eastern groups such as Arabs and Iranians continuously face discrimination in the United States.[citation needed]

Racism has manifested itself in a variety of ways, including genocide, slavery, segregation, Native American reservations, Native American boarding schools, immigration and naturalization laws, and internment camps.[note 1] Formal racial discrimination was largely banned by the mid-20th century and over time, coming to be perceived as being socially and morally unacceptable. Racial politics remains a major phenomenon, and racism continues to be reflected in socioeconomic inequality.[note 2][6] In recent years research has uncovered extensive evidence of racial discrimination in various sectors of modern U.S. society, including the criminal justice system, business, the economy, housing, health care, the media, and politics. In the view of the United Nations and the U.S. Human Rights Network, "discrimination in the United States permeates all aspects of life and extends to all communities of color."[7]

Some Americans saw the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama, who served as president of the United States from 2009 to 2017 and was the nation's first black president, as a sign that the nation had entered a new, post-racial era.[8][9] The election of President Donald Trump in 2016, who was a chief proponent of the racist birther movement in the US (which argued that Obama was not born in the United States) and ran a racially tinged campaign, has been viewed by some commentators as a racist backlash against the election of Barack Obama.[10] Before and after the election, Trump has had a history of speech and actions that have been widely viewed as racist or racially charged. During the mid-2010s, American society has seen a resurgence of high levels of racism and discrimination. One new phenomenon has been the rise of the "alt-right" movement: a white nationalist coalition which seeks the expulsion of sexual and racial minorities from the United States.[11] Since the mid-2010s, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have identified white supremacist violence as the leading threat of domestic terrorism in the United States.[12][13]


Racism is a systematized form of oppression which is developed by members of one race in order to persecute members of another race. Prejudicial attitudes existed between races for thousands of years, but systematized racial oppression first arose in the 1600s along with capitalism; the confluence of the two, capitalism and racial oppression, was deemed racial capitalism. Before this period, racism did not exist and in many cultures, slaves were usually taken as a result of military conquest. But when European traders discovered that their superior technology gave them a tremendous advantage in Africa, including their sailing ships and firearms, they began to plunder Africa's wealth and take slaves. Slavers and slave owners both tried to justify the practice of slavery by convincing themselves that before their African slaves were captured and enslaved, they had no previous culture and lived like savages, a totally false assumption. White European Americans who participated in the slave industry tried to justify their economic exploitation of black people by creating a "scientific" theory of white superiority and black inferiority.[14] One such slave owner was Thomas Jefferson, and it was his call for science to determine the obvious "inferiority" of blacks that is regarded as "an extremely important stage in the evolution of scientific racism."[15] He concluded that blacks were "inferior to the whites in the endowments of body and mind."[16]

Anti-miscegenation laws, which forbade marriage and even sex between whites and non-whites (which typically covered blacks but in some cases also Indians and Asians),[17] existed in most of the states well into the 20th century, even after emancipation and even in states that advocated the abolition of slavery. Such anti-miscegenation laws existed in many states until 1967, when the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Loving v. Virginia that such laws were unconstitutional.

Citizenship and voting rights[edit]

The Naturalization Act of 1790 set the first uniform rules for the granting of United States citizenship by naturalization, which limited naturalisation to "free white person[s]”, thus excluding from citizenship Native Americans, indentured servants, slaves, free blacks and later Asians. Citizenship and the lack of it had special impact on various legal and political rights, most notably suffrage rights at both the federal and state level, as well as the right to hold certain government offices, jury duty, military service, and many other activities, besides access to government assistance and services. The second Militia Act of 1792 also provided for the conscription of every "free able-bodied white male citizen".[18] Tennessee's 1834 Constitution included a provision: “the free white men of this State have a right to Keep and bear arms for their common defense.”[19]

The Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek, made under the Indian Removal Act of 1830, allowed those Choctaw Indians who chose to remain in Mississippi to gain recognition as US citizens, the first major non-European ethnic group to become entitled to US citizenship.

During the American Civil War, as a war necessity, the Militia Act of 1862, for the first time, allowed African-Americans to serve in the Union militias as soldiers and war laborers. By such enrolment, these blacks and their families were freed from slavery, if their owner was a rebel. However, black members were discriminated against in pay, with black members being paid half of white members. Besides discrimination in pay, colored units were often disproportionately assigned laborer work, rather than combat assignments.[20]:198 General Daniel Ullman, commander of the Corps d'Afrique, remarked "I fear that many high officials outside of Washington have no other intention than that these men shall be used as diggers and drudges."[21] Black members were organised into colored regiments. By the end of that war, in April 1865, there were 175 colored regiments constituting about one-tenth of the Union Army. About 20% of colored soldiers died, about 35% higher than that of white Union troops. The 1862 Militia Act, however, did not open military service to all races, only to black Americans. Non-whites were not permitted to serve in the Confederate army, except sometimes for camp labor.

The Naturalization Act of 1870 extended naturalization to black persons, but not to other non-white persons, but revoked the citizenship of naturalized Chinese Americans.[22] The law relied on coded language to exclude "aliens ineligible for citizenship" which primarily applied to Chinese and Japanese immigrants.

Native Americans were granted citizenship in a piece-meal manner until the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which unilaterally bestowed on them blanket citizenship status, whether they belonged to a federally recognized tribe or not, though by that date two-thirds of Native Americans had already become US citizens by various means. The Act was not retroactive, so that citizenship did not extend to Native Americans born before the effective date of the 1924 Act, or outside of the United States as an indigenous person. Even Native Americans who gained citizenship under the 1924 Act were not guaranteed voting rights until 1948. According to a survey by the Department of Interior, seven states still refused to grant Indians voting rights in 1938. Discrepancies between federal and state control provided loopholes in the Act's enforcement. States justified discrimination based on state statutes and constitutions. Three main arguments for Indian voting exclusion were Indian exemption from real estate taxes, maintenance of tribal affiliation and the notion that Indians were under guardianship, or lived on lands controlled by federal trusteeship.[23]:121 By 1947, all states with large Indian populations, except Arizona and New Mexico, had extended voting rights to Native Americans who qualified under the 1924 Act. Finally, in 1948, a judicial decision forced the remaining states to withdraw their prohibition on Indian voting.[24]

Further changes to racial eligibility for citizenship by naturalization were made after 1940, when eligibility was extended to "descendants of races indigenous to the Western Hemisphere," "Filipino persons or persons of Filipino descent," "Chinese persons or persons of Chinese descent," and "persons of races indigenous to India."[25] The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 prohibits racial and gender discrimination in naturalization.[26]

Citizenship, however, did not guarantee any particular rights, such as the right to vote. Black Americans, for example, who gained formal US citizenship by 1870, were soon disenfranchised. For example, after 1890, less than 9,000 of Mississippi's 147,000 eligible African-American voters were registered to vote, or about 6%. Louisiana went from 130,000 registered African-American voters in 1896 to 1,342 in 1904 (about a 99% decrease).[27] They were also subjected to Black Codes and discriminated against in the Southern states by Jim Crow laws. Voter suppression efforts around the country, though mainly motivated by political considerations, often effectively disproportionately affect African Americans and other minorities. For example, the felony disenfranchisement in Florida disqualifies over 10% of its citizens for life and over 23% of its African-American citizens.[28]

African Americans[edit]

Pre-Civil War[edit]

Slavery, as a form of forced labor, has existed in many cultures, dating back to early human civilizations. Slavery is not inherently racial per se. In the United States, however, slavery became racialized by the time of the American Revolution (1775–1783), when slavery was widely institutionalized as a racial caste system which was based on African ancestry and skin color.[29]

Atlantic slave trade[edit]

Reproduction of a handbill advertising a slave auction in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1769.

The Atlantic slave trade prospered, with more than 470,000 slaves having been forcibly transported from Africa between 1626 and 1860 to what is now the United States.[30][31] Prior to the Civil War, eight serving presidents owned slaves, a practice which was protected by the U.S. Constitution.[32] Providing wealth for the white elite, approximately one in four Southern families held slaves prior to the Civil War. According to the 1860 U.S. census, there were about 385,000 slave owners out of a white population of approximately 7 million in the slave states.[33][34]

Groups of armed white men, who were called slave patrols, were formed to monitor enslaved African Americans. First established in South Carolina in 1704 and later established in other slave states, their function was to police slaves, especially runaways. Slave owners feared that slaves might organize revolts or rebellions, so state militias were formed in order to provide a military command structure and discipline within the slave patrols so they could be used to detect, encounter, and crush any organized slave meetings which might lead to revolts or rebellions.[35][36]

Steps toward the abolition of slavery[edit]

Scars of a whipped slave, April 2, 1863, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

During the 1820s and 1830s, the solution of the American Colonization Society (ACS) to the presence of free blacks was to persuade them to emigrate to Africa.[37] In 1821, the ACS established the colony of Liberia, and persuaded thousands of former slaves and free black people to move there. Some slaves were manumitted (set free) on condition that they emigrate. The slave states made no secret that they wanted to get rid of free blacks, who they believed threatened their investment, the slaves, encouraging escapes and revolts. The support for the ACS was primarily Southern. The founder of the ACS, Henry Clay of Kentucky, stated that because of "unconquerable prejudice resulting from their color, they never could amalgamate with the free whites of this country. It was desirable, therefore, as it respected them, and the residue of the population of the country, to drain them off".[38] Thousands of black people were resettled in Liberia, where they formed an American English speaking enclave which could not assimilate back into African life and as a result, most of them died of tropical diseases.

Advertisement by a slave trader offering various amounts for slaves in Lexington, Kentucky, 1853

Although the “importation” of slaves into the United States was outlawed by federal law from 1808, the domestic trade in slaves continued to be a major economic activity.[39] Maryland and Virginia, for example, would "export" its surplus slaves to the south. (See Franklin and Armfield Office.) Enslaved family members could be split up (ie., sold off) never to see or hear of each other again.[39] Between 1830 and 1840, nearly 250,000 slaves were taken across state lines.[39] In the 1850s, more than 193,000 were transported, and historians estimate nearly one million in total were traded.[39] Slavery itself was abolished in the 1860s.

Ashley's Sack is a cloth that recounts a slave sale separating a mother and her daughter. The sack belonged to a nine-year-old girl Ashley which was a parting gift from her mother, Rose, after Ashley had been sold. Rose filled the sack with a dress, braid of her hair, pecans, and "my love always"

The historian Ira Berlin called this forced migration of slaves the "Second Middle Passage", because it reproduced many of the same horrors as the Middle Passage (the name given to the transportation of slaves from Africa to North America). These sales of slaves broke up many families, with Berlin writing that whether slaves were directly uprooted or lived in fear that they or their families would be involuntarily moved, "the massive deportation traumatized black people".[40] Individuals lost their connection to families and clans. Added to the earlier colonists combining slaves from different tribes, many ethnic Africans lost their knowledge of varying tribal origins in Africa. Most were descended from families who had been in the U.S. for many generations.[39]


Slaves Waiting for Sale: Richmond, Virginia. 1853

President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which came into effect on January 1, 1863, marked a change in the federal government's position on slavery. (Up to that time, the federal government had never even taken a limited pro-emancipation stance, and it could only do so in 1862 because of the 1861 departure of almost all of the Southern members of Congress). Though the proclamation was welcomed by abolitionists, its application had limitations. It did not apply, for example, to the nearly 500,000 slaves in the slave-holding border states of Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, and the new state of West Virginia, and it also did not apply in those portions of some states which were loyal to the Union, such as Virginia. In those states, slavery remained legal until abolished by state action, or by the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865.

Lincoln believed that the federal government did not have the authority to abolish slavery; that would violate states' rights. But he was also Commander of the Armed Forces. An action against states which were in rebellion, a step towards their defeat, was entirely appropriate. The South interpreted it as a hostile act. This allowed Lincoln to abolish slavery to a limited extent, without igniting resistance from anti-abolitionist forces in the Union. None of the slaves who lived outside the border areas were immediately affected, and it was the invading Northern armies which enforced the prohibition.

While personally opposed to slavery (see Abraham Lincoln and slavery), Lincoln believed that the Constitution did not give Congress the power to end it, stating in his first Inaugural Address that he "had no objection to [this] being made express and irrevocable" via the Corwin Amendment.[41] On social and political rights for blacks, Lincoln stated, "I am not, nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people, I as much as any man am in favor of the superior position assigned to the white race."[42] The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to areas which were loyal to, or controlled by, the Union. Slavery was not actually abolished in the U.S. until the passage of the 13th Amendment which was declared ratified on December 6, 1865.[43]

About four million black slaves were freed in 1865. 95% of blacks lived in the South, comprising one third of its total population, while only 5% of blacks lived in the North, comprising only 1% of its total population. Consequently, fears of eventual emancipation were much greater in the South than in the North.[44] Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of males who were aged 13 to 43 died in the Civil War, including 6% in the North and 18% in the South.[45]

Though the Thirteenth Amendment formally abolished slavery throughout the United States, some black Americans became subjected to revised forms of involuntary labor, particularly in the South, such as Black Codes that restricted African Americans' freedom, and compelled them to work for low wages. They were also subject to white supremacist violence, and selective enforcement of statutes.

Reconstruction Era to World War II[edit]

Reconstruction Era[edit]

The mob-style lynching of Will James, Cairo, Illinois, 1909. A crowd of thousands watched the lynching.[46]

After the Civil War, the 13th amendment which was passed in 1865, formally abolishing slavery, was ratified. Furthermore, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which broadened a range of civil rights and granted them to all persons who were born in the United States. Despite this, the emergence of "Black Codes", sanctioned acts of subjugation against blacks, continued to bar African-Americans from exercising their due civil rights. The Naturalization Act of 1790 only granted U.S. citizenship to whites, and in 1868 the effort to broaden civil rights was underscored by the passage of the 14th amendment which granted citizenship to blacks.[47] The Civil Rights Act of 1875 followed, which was eliminated in a decision that undermined federal power to thwart private racial discrimination.[48] Nonetheless, the last of the Reconstruction Era amendments, the 15th amendment promised voting rights to African-American men (previously only white men of property could vote), and these cumulative federal efforts, African-Americans began taking advantage of enfranchisement. African-Americans began voting, seeking office positions, utilizing public education.

By the end of Reconstruction in the mid 1870s, violent white supremacists came to power via paramilitary groups such as the Red Shirts and the White League and imposed Jim Crow laws which deprived African-Americans of voting rights by instituting systemic and discriminatory policies of unequal racial segregation.[49] Segregation, which began with slavery, continued with the passage and enforcement of Jim Crow laws, along with the posting of signs which were used to show blacks where they could legally walk, talk, drink, rest, or eat.[50] For those places that were racially mixed, non-whites had to wait until all white customers were dealt with.[50] Segregated facilities extended from white-only schools to white-only graveyards.[51]

Post-Reconstruction Era[edit]

Ota Benga was exhibited in the Monkey House of the Bronx Zoo, New York in 1906

The new century saw a hardening of institutionalized racism and legal discrimination against citizens of African descent in the United States. Throughout the post Civil War period, racial stratification was informally and systemically enforced, in order to solidify the pre-existing social order. Although they were technically able to vote, poll taxes, pervasive acts of terrorism such as lynchings (often perpetrated by hate groups such as the reborn Ku Klux Klan, founded in the Reconstruction South), and discriminatory laws such as grandfather clauses kept black Americans (and many Poor Whites) disenfranchised particularly in the South. Furthermore, the discrimination was extended to state legislation which "allocated vastly unequal financial support" for black and white schools. In addition to this, county officials sometimes redistributed resources which were earmarked for blacks to white schools, further undermining educational opportunities.[52] In response to de jure racism, protest and lobbyist groups emerged, most notably, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) in 1909.[53]

During the 1921 Tulsa race riot thousands of whites rampaged through the black community, killing men and women, burning and looting stores and homes. Up to 300 blacks were killed.[54]

This era is sometimes referred to as the nadir of American race relations because racism, segregation, racial discrimination, and expressions of white supremacy all increased. So did anti-black violence, including race riots such as the Atlanta Race riot of 1906 and the Tulsa race riot of 1921. The Atlanta riot was characterized as a "racial massacre of negroes" by the French newspaper Le Petit Journal.[55] The Charleston News and Courier wrote in response to the Atlanta riots: "Separation of the races is the only radical solution of the negro problem in this country. There is nothing new about it. It was the Almighty who established the bounds of the habitation of the races. The negroes were brought here by compulsion; they should be induced to leave here by persuasion."[56]

The Great Migration[edit]

A group of white men pose for a 1919 photograph as they stand over the body of the black lynching victim Will Brown before they decide to mutilate and burn it during the Omaha race riot of 1919 in Omaha, Nebraska. Photographs and postcards of lynchings were popular souvenirs in the U.S.[57]

In addition, racism, which had been viewed as a problem which primarily existed in the Southern states, burst onto the nation's consciousness following the Great Migration, the relocation of millions of African Americans from their roots in the rural Southern states to the industrial centers of the North and West between 1910 and 1970, particularly in cities such as Boston, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, New York City (Harlem), Cleveland, Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Phoenix, and Denver. Within Chicago, for example, between 1910 and 1970, the percentage of African-Americans leapt from 2.0 percent to 32.7 percent.[58] The demographic patterns of black migrants and external economic conditions are largely studied stimulants regarding the Great Migration.[58] For example, migrating blacks (between 1910 and 1920) were more likely to be literate than blacks who remained in the South. Known economic push factors played a role in migration, such as the emergence of a split labor market and agricultural distress which resulted from the boll weevil destruction of the cotton economy.[59]

White tenants seeking to prevent blacks from moving into the housing project erected this sign. Detroit, 1942.

Southern migrants were often treated in accordance with pre-existing racial stratification. The rapid influx of blacks into the North and West disturbed the racial balance within cities, exacerbating hostility between both black and white residents in the two regions. Stereotypic schemas of Southern blacks were used to attribute issues in urban areas, such as crime and disease, to the presence of African-Americans. Overall, African-Americans in most Northern and Western cities experienced systemic discrimination in a plethora of aspects of life. Within employment, economic opportunities for blacks were routed to the lowest-status and restrictive in potential mobility. In 1900 Reverend Matthew Anderson, speaking at the annual Hampton Negro Conference in Virginia, said that "...the lines along most of the avenues of wage earning are more rigidly drawn in the North than in the South. There seems to be an apparent effort throughout the North, especially in the cities to debar the colored worker from all the avenues of higher remunerative labor, which makes it more difficult to improve his economic condition even than in the South."[60][61] Within the housing market, stronger discriminatory measures were used in correlation to the influx, resulting in a mix of "targeted violence, restrictive covenants, redlining and racial steering".[62] A club central to the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, the Cotton Club in Harlem, New York City, was a whites-only establishment, with black acts allowed to perform, but to a white audience.[63]

A white gang looking for blacks during the Chicago race riot of 1919

Throughout this period, racial tensions exploded, most violently in Chicago, and lynchings—mob-directed hangings, usually racially motivated—increased dramatically in the 1920s. Urban riots—whites attacking blacks—became a northern and western problem.[64] Many whites defended their space with violence, intimidation, or legal tactics toward African Americans, while many other whites migrated to more racially homogeneous suburban or exurban regions, a process known as white flight.[65] Racially restrictive housing covenants were ruled unenforceable under the Fourteenth Amendment in the 1948 landmark Supreme Court case Shelley v. Kraemer.[66]

Elected in 1912, President Woodrow Wilson ordered segregation throughout the federal government.[67] In World War I, blacks served in the United States Armed Forces in segregated units. Black soldiers were often poorly trained and equipped, and were often put on the frontlines in suicide missions. The U.S. military was still heavily segregated in World War II. In addition, no African-American would receive the Medal of Honor during the war, and black soldiers had to sometimes give up their seats in trains to the Nazi prisoners of war.[68]

Native Americans[edit]

Members of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation in Oklahoma around 1877. Notice the members with European and African ancestry. The Creek were originally from the Alabama region.

Native Americans have lived on the North American continent for at least 10,000 years and millions of Native Americans were living in what is today the United States at the time European settlers first arrived on it.[69] During the colonial and independent periods, European settlers waged a long series of conflicts, often with the objective of obtaining the resources of Native Americans. Through wars, forced displacement (such as the Trail of Tears), and the imposition of treaties, land was taken. The loss of land often resulted in hardships for Native Americans. In the early 18th century, the English had enslaved nearly 800 Choctaws.[70]

After the creation of the United States, the idea of Indian removal gained momentum. However, some Native Americans chose to or were allowed to remain and avoided removal and thereafter were subjected to official racism. The Choctaws in Mississippi described their situation in 1849, "we have had our habitations torn down and burned, our fences destroyed, cattle turned into our fields and we ourselves have been scourged, manacled, fettered and otherwise personally abused, until by such treatment some of our best men have died."[71] Joseph B. Cobb, who moved to Mississippi from Georgia, described the Choctaws as having "no nobility or virtue at all," and in some respect he found blacks, especially native Africans, to be more interesting and admirable, the red man's superior in every way. The Choctaw and Chickasaw, the tribes he knew best, were beneath contempt, that is, even worse than black slaves.[72]

The Ghost Dance ritual. The Natives believed the dance would reunite the living with the spirits of the dead, bring the spirits of the dead to fight on their behalf, make the white invaders vanish, and bring peace, prosperity, and unity to Indian peoples throughout the region

In the 1800s, ideologies such as Manifest destiny, which held the view that the United States was destined to expand from coast to coast on the North American continent, fueled U.S. attacks against, and maltreatment of, Native Americans. In the years leading up to the Indian Removal Act of 1830 there were many armed conflicts between settlers and Native Americans.[73] A justification for the conquest and subjugation of indigenous people emanated from the stereotyped perception that Native Americans were "merciless Indian savages" (as described in the United States Declaration of Independence).[74] Sam Wolfson in The Guardian writes, "The declaration’s passage has often been cited as an encapsulation of the dehumanizing attitude toward indigenous Americans that the US was founded on."[75] Simon Moya-Smith, culture editor at Indian Country Today, states, "Any holiday that would refer to my people in such a repugnant, racist manner is certainly not worth celebrating. [July Fourth] is a day when we celebrate our resiliency, our culture, our languages, our children and we mourn the millions – literally millions – of indigenous people who have died as a consequence of American imperialism."[76]

In Martin Luther King Jr.'s book Why We Can't Wait, he wrote, "Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, the Indian, was an inferior race."[77] In 1861, residents of Mankato, Minnesota, formed the Knights of the Forest, with the goal of 'eliminating all Indians from Minnesota.' An egregious attempt occurred with the California gold rush, the first two years of which saw the death of thousands of Native Americans. Under Mexican rule in California, Indians were subjected to de facto enslavement under a system of peonage by the white elite. While in 1850, California formally entered the Union as a free state, with respect to the issue of slavery, the practice of Indian indentured servitude was not outlawed by the California Legislature until 1863.[78] The 1864 deportation of the Navajos by the U.S. government occurred when 8,000 Navajos were forcibly relocated to an internment camp in Bosque Redondo,[79] where, under armed guards, more than 3,500 Navajo and Mescalero Apache men, women, and children died from starvation and disease.[79]

Mass grave for the dead Lakota following the Wounded Knee massacre. Eyewitness American Horse, chief of the Oglala Lakota, stated, "A people's dream died there. It was a beautiful dream ... the nation's hope is broken and scattered. There is no center any longer, and the sacred tree is dead."[80]

Native American nations on the plains in the west continued armed conflicts with the U.S. throughout the 19th century, through what were called generally Indian Wars.[81] Notable conflicts in this period include the Dakota War, Great Sioux War, Snake War and Colorado War. In the years leading up to the Wounded Knee massacre the U.S. government had continued to seize Lakota lands. A Ghost Dance ritual on the Northern Lakota reservation at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, led to the U.S. Army's attempt to subdue the Lakota. The dance was part of a religion founded by Wovoka that told of the return of the Messiah to relieve the suffering of Native Americans and promised that if they would live righteous lives and perform the Ghost Dance properly, the European American invaders would vanish, the bison would return, and the living and the dead would be reunited in an Edenic world.[82] On December 29, 1890, at Wounded Knee, gunfire erupted, and U.S. soldiers killed up to 300 Indians, mostly old men, women and children.[83]

During the period surrounding the 1890 Wounded Knee Massacre, author L. Frank Baum wrote two editorials about Native Americans. Five days after the killing of the Lakota Sioux holy man, Sitting Bull, Baum wrote, "The proud spirit of the original owners of these vast prairies inherited through centuries of fierce and bloody wars for their possession, lingered last in the bosom of Sitting Bull. With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The Whites, by the law of conquest, by a justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are."[84] Following the December 29, 1890, massacre, Baum wrote, "The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past."[84][85]

Reservation marginalization[edit]

Once their territories were incorporated into the United States, surviving Native Americans were denied equality before the law and often treated as wards of the state.[86]

Many Native Americans were moved to reservations—constituting 4% of U.S. territory. In a number of cases, treaties signed with Native Americans were violated. Tens of thousands of American Indians and Alaska Natives were forced to attend a residential school system which sought to reeducate them in white settler American values, culture and economy.[87][88]

The treatment of the Native Americans was admired by the Nazis.[89] Nazi expansion eastward was accompanied with invocation of America's colonial expansion westward under the banner of Manifest Destiny, with the accompanying wars on the Native Americans.[90] In 1928, Hitler praised Americans for having "gunned down the millions of Redskins to a few hundred thousand, and now keep the modest remnant under observation in a cage".[91] On Nazi Germany's expansion eastward, Hitler stated, "Our Mississippi [the line beyond which Thomas Jefferson wanted all Indians expelled] must be the Volga, and not the Niger."[90]

Further dispossession of various kinds continues into the present, although these current dispossessions, especially in terms of land, rarely make major news headlines in the country (e.g., the Lenape people's recent fiscal troubles and subsequent land grab by the State of New Jersey), and sometimes even fail to make it to headlines in the localities in which they occur. Through concessions for industries such as oil, mining and timber and through division of land from the Allotment Act forward, these concessions have raised problems of consent, exploitation of low royalty rates, environmental injustice, and gross mismanagement of funds held in trust, resulting in the loss of $10–40 billion.[92]

The Worldwatch Institute notes that 317 reservations are threatened by environmental hazards, while Western Shoshone land has been subjected to more than 1,000 nuclear explosions.[93] However, the last known nuclear explosion testing in the United States occurred in September 1992.[94]


Caricature by Louis Dalrymple in Puck magazine showing Uncle Sam lecturing four children labeled Philippines, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Cuba. The United States had just acquired these territories from Spain after the Spanish–American War. A black boy is washing windows, a Native American sits separate from the class, and a Chinese boy is outside the door. The caption reads: School Begins. Uncle Sam (to his new class in Civilization)!

The government appointed agents, like Benjamin Hawkins, to live among the Native Americans and to teach them, through example and instruction, how to live like whites.[95] America's first president, George Washington, formulated a policy to encourage the "civilizing" process.[96]

The Naturalization Act of 1790 limited citizenship to whites only. The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924 granted U.S. citizenship to all Native Americans. Prior to the passage of the act, nearly two-thirds of Native Americans were already U.S. citizens.[97] The earliest recorded date of Native Americans becoming U.S. citizens was in 1831 when the Mississippi Choctaw became citizens after the United States Legislature ratified the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Under article XIV of that treaty, any Choctaw who elected not to move to Native American Territory could become an American citizen when he registered and if he stayed on designated lands for five years after treaty ratification.

While formal equality has been legally recognized, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders remain among the most economically disadvantaged groups in the country, and according to National mental health studies, American Indians as a group tend to suffer from high levels of alcoholism, depression and suicide.[98]

World War II to the Civil Rights Movement[edit]

A black youth at a segregated (“colored”) drinking fountain in Halifax, North Carolina, in 1938.

The Jim Crow Laws were state and local laws which were enacted in the Southern and border states of the United States and enforced between 1876 and 1965. They mandated "separate but equal" status for blacks. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were almost always inferior to those which were provided to whites. The most important laws required that public schools, public places and public transportation, like trains and buses, have separate facilities for whites and blacks. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education. One of the first federal court cases which challenged segregation in schools was Mendez v. Westminster in 1946.

Emmett Till’s mother Mamie (middle) at her son’s funeral in 1955. He was killed by white men after a white woman accused him of offending her in her family's grocery store.

By the 1950s, the Civil Rights Movement was gaining momentum. Membership in the NAACP increased in states across the U.S. A 1955 lynching that sparked public outrage about injustice was that of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago. Spending the summer with his relatives in Money, Mississippi, Till was killed for allegedly having wolf-whistled at a white woman. Till had been badly beaten, one of his eyes was gouged out, and he was shot in the head before being thrown into the Tallahatchie River, his body weighed down with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. David Jackson writes that Mamie Till, Emmett's Mother, "brought him home to Chicago and insisted on an open casket. Tens of thousands filed past Till's remains, but it was the publication of the searing funeral image in Jet, with a stoic Mamie gazing at her murdered child's ravaged body, that forced the world to reckon with the brutality of American racism."[99] News photographs were circulated around the country, and they drew an intense public reaction. The visceral response to his mother's decision to have an open-casket funeral mobilized the black community throughout the U.S.[100] Vann R. Newkirk wrote "the trial of his killers became a pageant illuminating the tyranny of white supremacy".[100] The state of Mississippi tried two defendants, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, but they were speedily acquitted by an all-white jury.[101]

Due to threats and violence against her, U.S. Marshals escorted 6-year-old Ruby Bridges to and from the previously whites only William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans, 1960. As soon as Bridges entered the school, white parents pulled their children out.

In response to heightening discrimination and violence, non-violent acts of protest began to occur. For example, in February 1960, in Greensboro, North Carolina, four young African-American college students entered a Woolworth store and sat down at the counter but were refused service. The men had learned about non-violent protest in college, and continued to sit peacefully as whites tormented them at the counter, pouring ketchup on their heads and burning them with cigarettes. After this, many sit-ins took place in order to non-violently protest against racism and inequality. Sit-ins continued throughout the South and spread to other areas. Eventually, after many sit-ins and other non-violent protests, including marches and boycotts, places began to agree to desegregate.[102]

In June 1963, civil rights activist and NAACP member Medgar Evers was assassinated by Byron De La Beckwith, a member of the White Citizens' Council. In his trials for murder De La Beckwith evaded conviction via all-white juries (both trials ended with hung juries).

Rosa Parks being fingerprinted after being arrested for not giving up her seat on the bus to a white person

The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing marked a turning point during the Civil Rights Era. On Sunday, September 15, 1963 with a stack of dynamite hidden on an outside staircase, Ku Klux Klansmen destroyed one side of the Birmingham church. The bomb exploded in proximity to twenty-six children who were preparing for choir practice in the basement assembly room. The explosion killed four black girls, Carole Robertson (14), Cynthia Wesley (14), Denise McNair (11) and Addie Mae Collins (14).[103][104]

Bayard Rustin (left) and Cleveland Robinson (right), organizers of the March, on August 7, 1963

With the bombing occurring only a couple of weeks after Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it became an integral aspect of transformed perceptions of conditions for blacks in America. It influenced the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (that banned discrimination in public accommodations, employment, and labor unions) and Voting Rights Act of 1965 which overruled remaining Jim Crow laws. Nonetheless, neither had been implemented by the end of the 1960s as civil rights leaders continued to strive for political and social freedom.

The first anti-miscegenation law was passed by the Maryland General Assembly in 1691, criminalizing interracial marriage.[105] By the late 1800s, 38 US states had anti-miscegenation statutes,[105] and by 1924 it was still in force in 29 states.[105] In 1958, officers in Virginia entered the home of Richard and Mildred Loving and dragged them out of bed for living together as an interracial couple, on the basis that “any white person intermarry with a colored person”— or vice versa—each party “shall be guilty of a felony” and face prison terms of five years.[105] The law was ruled unconstitutional in 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia.[105]

"We Cater to White Trade Only" sign on a restaurant window in Lancaster, Ohio in 1938. In 1964 Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested and spent a night in jail for attempting to eat at a white-only restaurant in St. Augustine, Florida

Segregation continued even after the demise of the Jim Crow laws. Data on house prices and attitudes towards integration suggest that in the mid-20th century, segregation was a product of collective actions taken by whites to exclude blacks from their neighborhoods.[106] Segregation also took the form of redlining, the practice of denying or increasing the cost of services, such as banking, insurance, access to jobs,[107] access to health care,[108] or even supermarkets[109] to residents in certain, often racially determined,[110] areas. Although in the U.S. informal discrimination and segregation have always existed, redlining began with the National Housing Act of 1934, which established the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). The practice was fought first through passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (which prevents redlining when the criteria for redlining are based on race, religion, gender, familial status, disability, or ethnic origin), and later through the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977, which requires banks to apply the same lending criteria in all communities.[111] Although redlining is illegal some argue that it continues to exist in other forms.

Although the ban on interracial marriage ended in California in 1948, entertainer Sammy Davis Jr. faced a backlash for his involvement with a white woman in 1957

Up until the 1940s, the full revenue potential of what was called "the Negro market" was largely ignored by white-owned manufacturers in the U.S. with advertising focused on whites.[112] Blacks were also denied commercial deals. On his decision to take part in exhibition races against racehorses in order to earn money, Olympic champion Jesse Owens stated, "People say that it was degrading for an Olympic champion to run against a horse, but what was I supposed to do? I had four gold medals, but you can't eat four gold medals."[113] On the lack of opportunities, Owens added, "There was no television, no big advertising, no endorsements then. Not for a black man, anyway."[114] In the reception to honor his Olympic success Owens was not permitted to enter through the main doors of the Waldorf Astoria New York and instead forced to travel up to the event in a freight elevator.[115] The first black Academy Award recipient Hattie McDaniel was not permitted to attend the premiere of Gone with the Wind with Georgia being racially segregated, and at the Oscars ceremony in Los Angeles she was required to sit at a segregated table at the far wall of the room; the hotel had a strict no-blacks policy, but allowed McDaniel in as a favor.[116] Her final wish to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery was denied because the graveyard was restricted to whites only.[116]

As the civil rights movement and the dismantling of Jim Crow laws in the 1950s and 1960s deepened existing racial tensions in much of the Southern U.S, a Republican Party electoral strategy – the Southern strategy – was enacted in order to increase political support among white voters in the South by appealing to racism against African Americans.[117][118] Republican politicians such as presidential candidate Richard Nixon and Senator Barry Goldwater developed strategies that successfully contributed to the political realignment of many white, conservative voters in the South who had traditionally supported the Democratic Party rather than the Republican Party.[119] In 1971, angered by African delegates at the UN siding against the U.S. in a vote to admit China and expel Taiwan, then Governor of California Ronald Reagan stated in a phone call to president Nixon, "To see those... those monkeys from those African countries - damn them, they're still uncomfortable wearing shoes!"[120] The perception that the Republican Party had served as the "vehicle of white supremacy in the South", particularly post 1964, made it difficult for the Party to win back the support of black voters in the South in later years.[119] In 1973, African-American baseball legend Hank Aaron received hundreds of thousands of hate mail letters from fans, angry at him for trying to break the all-time homerun record at the time set by Babe Ruth. Aaron would eventually break Ruth's homerun record by hitting his 715th homerun on April 8th, 1974. That same year, the U.S. Postal Service confirmed that Hank Aaron set the Guinness World Record for most mail received by any private citizen in one year, receiving over 900,000 letters with a third of them being letters of hate.[121]

1980s to the present[edit]

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church where nine black church-goers, including the pastor, were killed by a white man in the 2015 Charleston church shooting. The church had been rebuilt after one of its co-founders, Denmark Vesey, was suspected of planning a slave rebellion in Charleston in 1822; 35 people, including Vesey, were hanged and the church was burned down.[122]

While substantial gains were made in the succeeding decades through middle class advancement and public employment, black poverty and lack of education continued in the context of de-industrialization.[123][124] Despite gains made after the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, some violence against black churches has also continued – 145 fires were set to churches around the South in the 1990s,[125] and a mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina was committed in 2015 at the historic Mother Emanuel Church.[126]

From 1981 to 1997, the United States Department of Agriculture discriminated against tens of thousands of black American farmers, denying loans that were provided to white farmers in similar circumstances. The discrimination was the subject of the Pigford v. Glickman lawsuit brought by members of the National Black Farmers Association, which resulted in two settlement agreements of $1.06 billion in 1999 and of $1.25 billion in 2009.[127]

Numerous authors, academics, and historians have asserted that the War on Drugs has been racially and politically motivated. As the crack epidemic spread across the country in the mid 1980s, Congress would pass the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986. Under these sentencing guidelines, five grams of crack cocaine, often sold by and to African-Americans, carried a mandatory five-year prison sentence. However, for powder cocaine, often sold by and to white Americans, it would take one hundred times that amount, or 500 grams, for the same sentence, leading many to criticize the law as discriminatory. The 100:1 sentencing disparity was reduced to 18:1 in 2010 by the Fair Sentencing Act.[128] This was compounded by the fact that during the same time the law was passed, the right-wing Nicaraguan Contra rebels, backed by the Central Intelligence Agency, were smuggling thousands of pounds of cocaine into the United States, cocaine that was making its way into American inner cities as crack. While the Reagan administration drastically escalated the War on Drugs, officials in the Reagan administration, including Oliver North, knew about and encouraged using drug money to fund the Contras.[129] In 1989, the Kerry Committee report concluded the Contra drug links included... "Payments to drug traffickers by the U.S. State Department of funds authorized by the Congress for humanitarian assistance to the Contras, in some cases after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies on drug charges, in others while traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies". Despite these findings, it wasn't until 1996 where a reporter named Gary Webb for the San Jose Mercury News picked up on the story, linking the CIA-backed Contras to the crack epidemic. The outrage in the African-American community was enormous, particularly in South Central Los Angeles, where Congresswoman Maxine Waters served, and subsequently praised Webb's Dark Alliance series.

During the 1980s and '90s, a number of riots occurred that were related to longstanding racial tensions between police and minority communities. The 1980 Miami riots were catalyzed by the killing of an African-American motorist by four white Miami-Dade Police officers. They were subsequently acquitted on charges of manslaughter and evidence tampering. Similarly, the six-day 1992 Los Angeles riots erupted after the acquittal of four white LAPD officers who had been filmed beating Rodney King, an African-American motorist. Khalil Gibran Muhammad, the Director of the Harlem-based Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture has identified more than 100 instances of mass racial violence in the United States since 1935 and has noted that almost every instance was precipitated by a police incident.[130]

Politically, the "winner-take-all" structure that applies to 48 out of 50 states[131] in the electoral college benefits white representation, as no state has voters of color as the majority of the electorate.[132][dubious ] This has been described as structural bias and often leads voters of color to feel politically alienated, and therefore not to vote. The lack of representation in Congress has also led to lower voter turnout.[132] As of 2016, African Americans only made up 8.7% of Congress, and Latinos 7%.[133]

Many cite the 2008 United States presidential election as a step forward in race relations: white Americans played a role in electing Barack Obama, the country's first black president.[134] In fact, Obama received a greater percentage of the white vote (43%),[135] than did the previous Democratic candidate, John Kerry (41%).[136] Racial divisions persisted throughout the election; wide margins of Black voters gave Obama an edge during the presidential primary, where 8 out of 10 African-Americans voted for him in the primaries, and an MSNBC poll found that race was a key factor in whether a candidate was perceived as being ready for office. In South Carolina, for instance, "Whites were far likelier to name Clinton than Obama as being most qualified to be commander in chief, likeliest to unite the country and most apt to capture the White House in November. Blacks named Obama over Clinton by even stronger margins—two- and three-to one—in all three areas."[137]

Sociologist Russ Long stated in 2013 that there is now a more subtle racism that associates a specific race with a specific characteristic.[138] In a 1993 study conducted by Katz and Braly, it was presented that "blacks and whites hold a variety of stereotypes towards each other, often negative".[139] The Katz and Braley study also found that African-Americans and whites view the traits that they identify each other with as threatening, interracial communication between the two is likely to be "hesitant, reserved, and concealing".[139] Interracial communication is guided by stereotypes; stereotypes are transferred into personality and character traits which then have an effect on communication. Multiple factors go into how stereotypes are established, such as age and the setting in which they are being applied.[139] For example, in a study done by the Entman-Rojecki Index of Race and Media in 2014, 89% of black women in movies are shown swearing and exhibiting offensive behavior while only 17% of white women are portrayed in this manner.[140]

In 2012, Trayvon Martin, a seventeen-year-old teenager, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer, claimed that Martin was being suspicious and called the Sanford police to report him.[141] While on the call to police, Zimmerman began following Martin. Between ending his call with police and their arrival, Zimmerman fatally shot Martin outside of the townhouse he was staying at following an altercation. Zimmerman was injured in the altercation and claimed self-defense. The incident caused national outrage after Zimmerman was not charged over the shooting. The national coverage of the incident lead Sandford police to arrest Zimmerman and charge him with second-degree murder, but he was found not guilty at trial. Public outcry followed the acquittal and created an abundance of mistrust between minorities and the Sanford police.

Reverend Al Sharpton speaking at the Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks in August 2020

In 2014, the police shooting of Michael Brown, an African American, in Ferguson, Missouri led to widespread unrest in the town. In the years following, mass media has followed other high profile police shootings of African-Americans, often with video evidence from police body-worn cameras. Amongst 15 high-profile police shooting deaths of African-Americans, only one officer faced prison time. High-profile shooting deaths of African-Americans led to the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement.[142] The U.S. Justice department launched the National Center for Building Community Trust and Justice in 2014.[143] This program collects data concerning racial profiling to create change in the criminal justice system concerning implicit and explicit racial bias towards African-Americans as well as other minorities.

In August 2017, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination issued a rare warning to the US and its leadership to "unequivocally and unconditionally" condemn racist speech and crime, following violence in Charlottesville during a rally organized by white nationalists, white supremacists, Klansmen, neo-Nazis and various right-wing militias in August.[144][145]

White women calling the police on blacks has become more publicized in recent years. In a 2020 article in The New York Times titled How White Women Use Themselves as Instruments of Terror, black columnist Charles M. Blow wrote, “historically, white women have used the violence of white men and the institutions these men control as their own muscle. Untold numbers of lynchings were executed because white women had claimed that a black man raped, assaulted, talked to or glanced at them. This exercise in racial extremism has been dragged into the modern era through the weaponizing of 9-1-1, often by white women, to invoke the power and force of the police who they are fully aware are hostile to black men“.[146] A high profile example occurred in May 2020 when a white woman called the police on a black man bird-watching in Central Park, New York. After he had asked her to put her dog on a leash (as per the rules in an area of the park to protect other wildlife), she approached him, to which he responded “Please don't come close to me", before she yelled, "I'm taking a picture and calling the cops. I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life." During her phone call, with the man standing a distance away from her and recording her, she spoke in an audibly distraught voice, "There's a man, African American, he is.. threatening me and my dog. Please send the cops immediately!".[146] Other examples of white women calling the police on blacks include reporting an eight-year-old girl for selling bottles of water without a permit in San Francisco, reporting a black family barbecuing in a park in Oakland, California, blocking a black man from entering an apartment building in St. Louis, Missouri where he is a resident before calling the police, and a woman accusing a boy of groping her in a store in Brooklyn, New York, which was disproven by surveillance.[147][148]

On May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed by a white Minneapolis Police Department officer, Derek Chauvin, who forced his knee on Floyd's neck for a total of 8 minutes and 46 seconds.[149] All four police officers present were fired the next day,[150] and later arrested.[151] Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, and the other three officers were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.[151] Floyd’s death sparked a wave of protests across the US, beginning in Minneapolis.[152] The official postmortem report on June 1, 2020, confirmed that the death was a homicide.[153]

Asian Americans[edit]

A World War II anti-Japanese propaganda poster utilizing the "Jap" slur and depicting the Japanese as rats, after they conquered parts of Alaska.

Asian Americans, including those of East Asian, South Asian, and Southeast Asian descent, have experienced racism since the first major groups of Chinese immigrants arrived in America. The Naturalization Act of 1790 made Asians ineligible for citizenship.[154] First-generation immigrants, children of immigrants, and Asians adopted by non-Asian families are still impacted by discrimination.[155]

During the Industrial Revolution in the United States, labor shortages in the mining and rail industries were prevalent. Chinese immigrant labor was often used to fill this gap, most notably with the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad, leading to large-scale Chinese immigration.[155] These Chinese immigrants were seen as taking the jobs of whites for cheaper pay, and the phrase Yellow Peril, which predicted the demise of Western Civilization as a result of Chinese immigrants, gained popularity.[156]

Anti-Chinese legislation[edit]

In 1871, one of the largest lynchings in American history was committed against Chinese immigrants in Los Angeles, California. It would go on to become known as the Chinese massacre of 1871. The 1879 Constitution of the California prohibited the employment of Chinese people by state and local governments, as well as by businesses that were incorporated in California. Also, the 1879 constitution delegated power to local governments in California in order to enable them to remove Chinese people from the borders of their communities.[157][158] The federal Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 banned the immigration of Chinese labourers for ten years despite the fact that thousands of Chinese immigrants had already come to the American West. Several mob attacks against Chinese people took place, including the Rock Springs massacre of 1885 in Wyoming in which at least 28 Chinese miners were killed and 15 injured, and the Hells Canyon massacre of 1887 in Oregon where 34 Chinese miners were killed.[159]

Anti-Asian legislation in the late 19th century[edit]

A political cartoon from 1882 ridiculing the Chinese Exclusion Act, showing a Chinese man, surrounded by benefits of Chinese immigration, being barred entry to the "Golden Gate of Liberty", while other groups, including Communists and "hoodlums", are allowed to enter. The caption reads sarcastically, "We must draw the line somewhere, you know."

The 1879 Constitution of California prohibited the employment of Chinese people by state and local governments, as well as by businesses which were incorporated in California. Also, the 1879 constitution delegated the local governments of California the power to remove Chinese people from the borders of their localities.[157][158] The Chinese Exclusion Act banning immigration of Chinese people was enacted on the national level in 1882, while the immigration of people from Asian countries in addition to China was banned by the sweeping Immigration Act of 1917, also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, which also banned homosexuals, people with intellectual disability, and people with an anarchist worldview.[158] The Chinese Exclusion Act was the first time that a law was passed to exclude a major ethnic group from the nation.[155]

Several massacres of Chinese people, including the Rock Springs massacre of 1885 and the Hells Canyon massacre of 1887 further exemplified deep American racist animus against Chinese people.[159]

Denver's anti-Chinese riot in 1880

Local discriminatory laws were also enacted to stifle Chinese business and job opportunities; for example, in the 1886 Supreme Court case of Yick Wo v. Hopkins, a San Francisco city ordinance requiring permits for laundries (which were mostly Chinese-owned) was struck down, as it was evident the law solely targeted Chinese Americans. When the law was in effect, the city issued permits to virtually all non-Chinese permit applicants, while only granting one permit out of two hundred applications from Chinese laundry owners. When the Chinese laundries continued to operate, the city tried to fine the owners. In 1913, California, home to many Chinese immigrants, enacted an Alien Land Law, which significantly restricted land ownership by Asian immigrants, and extended it in 1920, ultimately banning virtually all land ownership by Asians.[160]

Japanese immigrants, who were unaffected by the Chinese Exclusion Act, began to enter the United States in large numbers in 1907, filling jobs that were once filled by Chinese workers. This influx also led to discrimination and President Theodore Roosevelt restricted Japanese immigration. Later, Japanese immigration was closed when Japan entered into the Gentlemen's Agreement of 1907 to stop issuing passports to Japanese workers intending to move to the U.S.[161]

World War II and Postwar[edit]

During World War II, the Republic of China was an ally of the United States, and the federal government praised the resistance of the Chinese against Japan in the Second Sino-Japanese War, in an attempt to reduce anti-Chinese sentiment. In 1943, the Magnuson Act was passed by Congress, repealing the Chinese Exclusion Act and reopening Chinese immigration. However, at the time, the United States was actively fighting the Empire of Japan, which was a member of the Axis powers. Anti-Japanese racism, which spiked after the attack on Pearl Harbor, was tacitly encouraged by the government, which used slurs such as "Jap" in propaganda posters and even interned Japanese Americans, citing possible security threats. American soldiers in the Pacific theater often dehumanized their enemy, leading them to mutilate Japanese war dead.[162] The racist nature of this dehumanization is apparent in the inconsistency of the treatment of corpses in the Pacific and the European theaters. Apparently some soldiers mailed Japanese skulls home as souvenirs, while none of them mailed German or Italian skulls home.[163] This prejudice continued to exist for some time after the end of the war, and anti-Asian racism also affected U.S. policy during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, even though Asians fought on both sides during those wars as well as during World War II. Some historians have alleged that a climate of racism, with unofficial rules like the "mere gook rule",[164][165] allowed a pattern to exist in which South Vietnamese civilians were treated as if they were less than human and war crimes became common.[166]

Prior to 1965, Indian immigration to the U.S. was small and isolated, with fewer than 50,000 Indian immigrants in the country. The Bellingham riots in Bellingham, Washington, on September 5, 1907, epitomized the low tolerance in the U.S. for Indians and Hindus. While anti-Asian racism was embedded in U.S. politics and culture in the early 20th century, Indians were also racialized, with U.S. officials casting them as "Hindu menaces" and pushing for Western imperial expansion abroad.[167] In the 1923 case, United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind, the Supreme Court ruled that high caste Hindus were not "white persons" and were therefore racially ineligible for naturalized citizenship.[168] The Court argued that the racial difference between Indians and whites was so great that the "great body of our people" would reject assimilation with Indians.[168] It was after the Luce–Celler Act of 1946 that a quota of 100 Indians per year could immigrate to the U.S. and become citizens.[169]

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 dramatically opened entry to the U.S. to immigrants other than traditional Northern European and Germanic groups, and as a result, it would significantly, and unintentionally, alter the demographic mix in the U.S.[170] On the U.S. immigration laws prior to 1965, sociologist Stephen Klineberg stated the law "declared that Northern Europeans are a superior subspecies of the white race."[170] In 1990, Asian immigration was encouraged when nonimmigrant temporary working visas were given to help with the shortage of skilled labor within the United States.[155]

Burned buildings in Los Angeles after 1992 Los Angeles riots. Civilians, mainly Korean American, non-Korean Asian Americans and some other communities, acting as vigilantes in combating rioters and looters

21st Century[edit]

In modern times, Asians have been perceived as a "model minority". They are categorized as more educated and successful, and are stereotyped as intelligent and hard-working, but socially inept.[171] Asians may experience expectations of natural intelligence and excellence from whites as well as other minorities.[160][172] This has led to discrimination in the workplace, as Asian Americans may face unreasonable expectations because of this stereotype. According to the Journal of Organizational Behavior, in 2000, out of 1,218 adult Asian Americans, 92 percent of those who experienced personal discrimination believed that the unfair treatment was due to their ethnicity.[171]

These stereotypes can also obstruct career paths; because Asians are seen as better skilled in engineering, computing, and mathematics, they are often encouraged to pursue technical careers. They are also discouraged from pursuing non-technical occupations or executive occupations requiring more social interaction, since Asians are perceived to have poor social skills. In the 2000 study, forty percent of those surveyed who experienced discrimination believed that they had lost hiring or promotion opportunities. In 2007, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that Asians make up 10 percent of professional jobs, while 3.7 percent of them held executive, senior level, or manager positions.[171]

Other forms of discrimination against Asian Americans include racial profiling and hate crimes. The FBI noted that in 2015, 3.2 percent of all hate crimes involved anti-Asian bias.[173] In 2016, the Seattle Police Department reported that there was a 40 percent increase in race-based crimes against Asian-Americans, both criminal and non-criminal.[174]

Research shows that discrimination has led to more use of informal mental health services by Asian Americans. Asian Americans who feel discriminated against also tend to smoke more.[175]

There have been widespread incidents of xenophobia and racism against Chinese Americans and other Asian Americans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.[176]

Anti-Japanese sentiment and legislation[edit]

European Americans[edit]

Various European American immigrant groups have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of their religion (see Religious discrimination in the United States and Anti-Catholicism in the United States), immigrant status (which is known as "Nativism") or ethnicity (country of origin).

New York Times, 1854 ad, reading "No Irish need apply."

In the 19th century, this was particularly true because of anti-Irish prejudice, which was based on anti-Catholic sentiment, and prejudice against the Irish as an ethnicity. This was especially true for Irish Catholics who immigrated to the U.S. in the mid-19th century; the large number of Irish (both Catholics and Protestants) who settled in America in the 18th century had largely (but not entirely) escaped such discrimination and eventually blended into the white American population. During the 1830s in the U.S., riots over control of job sites broke out in rural areas among rival labor teams whose members were from different parts of Ireland, and riots also broke out between Irish and local American work teams which were competing for construction jobs.[177]

The Native American Party, commonly called the Know Nothing movement was a political party, whose membership was limited to Protestant men, that operated on a national basis during the mid-1850s and sought to limit the influence of Irish Catholics and other immigrants, thus reflecting nativism and anti-Catholic sentiment. There was widespread anti-Irish job discrimination in the United States and "No Irish need apply" signs were common.[178][179][180]

Ku Klux Klan members march down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. in 1928. The second era Klan was a large nationwide movement with between four and six million members.

The second era Ku Klux Klan was a very large nationwide organization in the 1920s, consisting of between four to six million members (15% of the nation's eligible population) that especially opposed Catholics.[181] The revival of the Klan was spurred by the release of the 1915 film The Birth of a Nation.[182] The second and third incarnations of the Ku Klux Klan made frequent references to America's "Anglo-Saxon" blood.[183] Anti-Catholic sentiment, which appeared in North America with the first Pilgrim and Puritan settlers in New England in the early 17th century, remained evident in the United States up to the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy, who went on to become the first Catholic U.S. president in 1961.[184]

Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti were wrongfully executed in 1927; anti-Italianism and anti-immigrant bias were suspected as having heavily influenced the verdict.

The 20th century saw discrimination against immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe (notably Italian Americans and Polish Americans), partially as a result of anti-Catholic sentiment (as well as discrimination against Irish Americans), partially as a result of Nordicism. The primary spokesman for Nordicism was the eugenicist Madison Grant. His 1916 book, The Passing of the Great Race, or the Racial Basis of European History about Nordicism was highly influential among racial thinkers and government policy makers in the U.S.[185]

Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides.

— Future U.S. president Calvin Coolidge, 1921.[186]
Several Germans in an internment camp at Fort Douglas during World War I

An advocate of the U.S. immigration laws that favored Northern Europeans, the Klansman Lothrop Stoddard primarily wrote about the alleged dangers which "colored" peoples posed to white civilization, with his most famous book The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy in 1920. Nordicism led to the reduction in Southern European, along with Slavic Eastern European and Russian immigrants in the National Origins Formula of the Emergency Quota Act of 1921 and the Immigration Act of 1924, whose goal was to maintain the status quo distribution of ethnicity by limiting immigration of non-Northern Europeans. According to the U.S. Department of State the purpose of the act was "to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity".[187] The racial term Untermensch originates from the title of Stoddard's 1922 book The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under-man.[188] It was later adopted by the Nazis (and its chief racial theorist Alfred Rosenberg) from that book's German version Der Kulturumsturz: Die Drohung des Untermenschen (1925).[189]

There was also discrimination against German Americans and Italian Americans due to the fact that Germany and Italy were enemy countries during World War I (Germany) and World War II (Germany and Italy). This resulted in a sharp decrease in German-American ethnic identity and a sharp decrease in the use of German in the United States following World War I, which had hitherto been significant, and the internment of German and Italian Americans during World War II; see also World War I anti-German sentiment.

Beginning in World War I, German Americans were sometimes accused of having political allegiances to Germany rather than the United States.[190] The Justice Department attempted to prepare a list of all German aliens, counting approximately 480,000 of them, more than 4,000 of whom were imprisoned in 1917–18. The allegations included spying for Germany, or endorsing the German war effort.[191] Thousands were forced to buy war bonds to show their loyalty.[192] The Red Cross barred individuals with German last names from joining in fear of sabotage. One person was killed by a mob; in Collinsville, Illinois, German-born Robert Prager was dragged from jail as a suspected spy and lynched.[193] Questions of German American loyalty increased due to events like the German bombing of Black Tom island[194] and the U.S. entering World War I, many German Americans were arrested for refusing allegiance to the U.S.[195] War hysteria led to the removal of German names in public, names of things such as streets,[196] and businesses.[197] Schools also began to eliminate or discourage the teaching of the German language.[198] Years later during the Second World War, German Americans were once again the victims of war hysteria discrimination. Following its entry into the Second World War, the US Government interned at least 11,000 American citizens of German ancestry. The last to be released, a German-American, remained imprisoned at Ellis Island until 1948,[199] three and a half years after the cessation of hostilities against Germany.

Specific racism against other European-American ethnicities significantly diminished as a political issue in the 1930s, being replaced by a bi-racialism of black/white, as described and predicted by Lothrop Stoddard, due to numerous causes. The National Origins Formula significantly reduced inflows of non-Nordic ethnicities; the Great Migration (of African-Americans out of the South) displaced anti-white immigrant racism with anti-black racism.[65]

Latino Americans[edit]

A rally is held for victims of Hurricane Maria in protest against the U.S. government's response to it and the Political status of Puerto Rico.

Americans of Latin American ancestry (often categorized as "Hispanic" or Hispanic and Latino Americans) come from a wide variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. As a result, not all Latinos are distinguishable as members of a single racial minority.

After the Mexican–American War (1846–1848), the United States annexed much of the current Southwestern region from Mexico. Mexicans who resided in that territory were subjected to discrimination. It is estimated that at least 597 Mexicans were lynched between 1848 and 1928 (this is a conservative estimate due to the fact that there was a lack of records when many reported lynchings were committed). Between 1880 and 1930, Mexicans were lynched at a rate of 27.4 per 100,000 people. This lynching statistic is second only to the statistic within the African American community, which suffered an average of 37.1 lynchings per 100,000 people during the same period.[200] Between 1848 and 1879, Mexicans were lynched at an unprecedented rate of 473 per 100,000 people.[201]

Hispanic protest against California immigration policy. Todos somos ilegales – We are all Illegals.

During the Great Depression, the U.S. government sponsored a Mexican Repatriation program which was intended to encourage Mexican immigrants to voluntarily return to Mexico, however, many were forcibly removed against their will. In total, up to one million persons of Mexican ancestry were deported, approximately 60 percent of those individuals were actually U.S. citizens.

The Zoot Suit riots were vivid incidents of racial violence against Latinos (e.g., Mexican-Americans) in Los Angeles in 1943. Naval servicemen who were stationed in a Latino neighborhood clashed with youths who lived in the dense neighborhood. Frequent confrontations between small groups and individuals had intensified and erupted into several days of non-stop rioting. Large mobs of servicemen would enter civilian quarters looking to attack Mexican American youths, some of whom were wearing zoot suits, a distinctive and exaggerated style of fashion which was popular among members of that age group.[202] For several days, the disturbances continued unchecked , and the local police even participated in them before base commanders declared downtown Los Angeles and Mexican American neighborhoods off-limits to servicemen.[203]

Many public institutions, businesses, and homeowners associations officially excluded Mexican Americans as a matter of policy. School children of Mexican American descent were subjected to racial segregation in the public school system. In many counties, Mexican Americans were excluded from serving as jurors in court cases, especially in those that involved Mexican American defendants. In many areas across the Southwest, they lived in separate residential areas, due to laws and real estate company policies.[204][205][206][207]

During the 1960s, Mexican American youth formed the Chicano Civil Rights Movement.

Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans[edit]

An Assyrian church after it was vandalized in Detroit (2007). Although they are not Arabs and are mostly Christians, Assyrians often face a racist backlash in the US because of their Middle Eastern background.[208]

People of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent historically occupied an ambiguous racial status in the United States. Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants were among those who sued in the late 19th and early 20th century to determine whether they were "white" immigrants as required by naturalization law. By 1923, courts had vindicated a "common-knowledge" standard, concluding that "scientific evidence", including the notion of a "Caucasian race" including Middle Easterners and many South Asians, was incoherent. Legal scholar John Tehranian argues that in reality this was a "performance-based" standard, relating to religious practices, education, intermarriage and a community's role in the United States.[209]

Arab Americans[edit]

Racism against Arab Americans[210] and racialized Islamophobia against Muslims have risen concomitantly with tensions between the American government and the Islamic world.[211] Following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, discrimination and racialized violence has markedly increased against Arab Americans and many other religious and cultural groups.[212] Scholars, including Sunaina Maira and Evelyn Alsultany, argue that in the post-September 11 climate, the markers of the racialization of Muslim Americans are cultural, political, and religious rather than phenotypic.[213][214]

Arab Americans in particular were most demonized after the September 11 attacks, which led to hatred towards Middle Easterners living in the United States and elsewhere in the Western world.[215] There have been attacks against Arabs not only on the basis of their religion (Islam), but also on the basis of their ethnicity; numerous Christian Arabs have been attacked based on their appearances.[216] In addition, other Middle Eastern peoples (Persians, Assyrians, Azerbaijanis, Armenians, Jews, Turks, Yazidis, Kurds, etc.) who are mistaken for Arabs because of perceived similarities in appearance have been collateral victims of anti-Arabism.

Non-Arab and non-Muslim Middle Eastern people, as well as South Asians of different ethnic/religious backgrounds (Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs) have been stereotyped as "Arabs" and racialized in a similar manner. The case of Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh who was murdered at a Phoenix gas station by a white supremacist for "looking like an Arab terrorist" (because of the turban, a requirement of Sikhism), as well as that of Hindus being attacked for "being Muslims" have achieved prominence and criticism following the September 11 attacks.[217][218]

Those of Middle Eastern descent who are in the United States military face racism from fellow soldiers. Army Spc Zachari Klawonn endured numerous instances of racism during his enlistment at Fort Hood, Texas. During his basic training, he was made to put cloth around his head and play the role of terrorist. His fellow soldiers had to take him down to the ground and draw guns on him. He was also called things such as "raghead", "sand monkey", and "Zachari bin Laden".[219] According to a 2004 study, although official parameters encompass Arabs as part of the "white American" racial category, some Arab American adolescents do not identify as white.[220]

Racial profiling is a growing problem for Arab Americans following the September 11 attacks. Particularly in airports, Arab Americans are often subject to heightened security screening, pre-boarding searches and interrogations, and are sometimes denied passage "based solely on the belief that ethnicity or national origin increases passengers' flight risk."[221]

Originally, passenger profiling was introduced in the 1960s to identify potential hijackers that fit the "profile" of a person who is "likely to be a terrorist." However, this practice was discontinued in 1972 due to inefficiencies and was replaced by checkpoints and x-ray security. The Department Of Justice released a statement in 1997 claiming that automated passenger screenings would not have a "disparate impact on any group of passengers." The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) believes that "profiling, even under the best circumstances, provides an opportunity for the prejudices and stereotypes held by law enforcement and other officials to be expressed through discriminatory application of profiles. At worst, they are simply a recipe for bigoted behavior."[222]

Jewish Americans[edit]

Antisemitism has also played a role in the history of the United States. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Jews escaped the pogroms in Europe. They boarded boats which left ports that were located on the Baltic Sea as well as ports that were located in Northern Germany, and they largely arrived at Ellis Island, New York.[223]

It is suggested by Leo Rosten, in his book The Joys of Yiddish, that as soon as they left their boats, they were subjected to racism by the port immigration authorities. The derogatory term kike was adopted in reference to Jews (because most of them could not write and as a result, they may have signed their immigration papers with circles – or kikels in Yiddish).[224] Efforts were also made by the Asiatic Exclusion League to bar Jewish immigrants (along with other Middle Eastern ethnic groups, like Arabs, Assyrians, and Armenians) from naturalization, nevertheless, they (along with Assyrians and Armenians) were granted US citizenship, despite being classified as Asians.[225]

Beginning in the 1910s, Southern Jewish communities were attacked by the Ku Klux Klan, which objected to Jewish immigration, and often used "The Jewish Banker" caricature in its propaganda. In 1915, Leo Frank was lynched in Georgia after being convicted of rape and sentenced to death by hanging (his punishment was commuted to life imprisonment).[226] This event was a catalyst in the re-formation of the new Ku Klux Klan.[227]

Events in Nazi Germany also attracted attention in the United States. Jewish lobbying for intervention in Europe drew opposition from the isolationists, amongst whom was Father Charles Coughlin, a well known radio priest, who was known to be critical of Jews, believing that they were leading the United States into the war.[228] He preached weekly, overtly anti-Semitic sermons and, from 1936, he began the publication of a newspaper, Social Justice, in which he printed anti-Semitic accusations such as those which are contained in The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.[229]

A number of Jewish organizations, Christian organizations, Muslim organizations, and academics consider the Nation of Islam anti-Semitic. Specifically, they claim that the Nation of Islam has engaged in revisionist and antisemitic interpretations of the Holocaust and exaggerates the role of Jews in the African slave trade.[230] The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) alleged that the NOI's Health Minister, Dr. Abdul Alim Muhammad, accused Jewish doctors of injecting blacks with the AIDS virus,[231] an allegation that Muhammad and The Washington Post have refuted.[232]

Although Jews are often considered white by mainstream American society, the relationship between Jews and the concept of whiteness remains complex, with some of them preferring not to identify themselves as white.[233][234][235][236] Prominent activist and rabbi Michael Lerner argues, in a 1993 Village Voice article, that "in America, to be 'white' means to be the beneficiary of the past 500 years of European exploration and exploitation of the rest of the world" and that "Jews can only be deemed white if there is massive amnesia on the part of non-Jews about the monumental history of anti-Semitism".[236] African-American activist Cornel West, in an interview with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, has explained:

Even if some Jews do believe that they're white, I think that they've been duped. I think that antisemitism has proven itself to be a powerful force in nearly every post of Western civilization where Christianity has a presence. And so even as a Christian, I say continually to my Jewish brothers and sisters: don't believe the hype about your full scale assimilation and integration into the mainstream. It only takes an event or two for a certain kind of anti-Jewish, antisemitic sensibility to surface in places that you would be surprised. But I'm just thoroughly convinced that America is not the promised land for Jewish brothers and sisters. A lot of Jewish brothers say, "No, that's not true. We finally ..." Yeah—they said that in Alexandria. You said that in Weimar Germany.[237]

New Antisemitism[edit]

In recent years, some scholars have advanced the concept of New antisemitism, coming simultaneously from the far left, the far right, and radical Islam. This concept tends to focus on opposition to the creation of a Jewish homeland in the State of Israel, and it also argues that the language of Anti-Zionism and criticism of Israel are both used to attack Jews more broadly. According to this view, the proponents of the new concept believe that criticisms of Israel and Zionism are often disproportionate in degree and unique in kind, and they attribute these criticisms to antisemitism.[238]

Yehuda Bauer, Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has argued that the concept of a "new antisemitism" is essentially false since it is in fact an alternative form of the old antisemitism of previous decades, which he believes remains latent at times but recurs whenever it is triggered. In his view, the current trigger is the Israel-Palestine situation; if a compromise making ground in the Arab-Israeli peace process were achieved, he believes that antisemitism would once again decline but not disappear.

Noted critics of Israel, such as Noam Chomsky and Norman Finkelstein, question the extent of new antisemitism in the United States. Chomsky has written in his work Necessary Illusions that the Anti-Defamation League casts any question of pro-Israeli policy as antisemitism, conflating and muddling issues as even Zionists receive the allegation.[239] Finkelstein has stated that supposed "new antisemitism" is a preposterous concept advanced by the ADL to combat critics of Israeli policy.[240]

On October 27, 2018, Robert D. Bowers opened fire in a synagogue in Pittsburgh with an AR-15-style rifle while shouting anti-Semitic racial slurs. This attack resulted in 11 dead and 6 wounded, leaving the assailant charged with 29 criminal counts, one of which was the obstruction of free exercise of religious beliefs. Both President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel have commented on the event, condemning the attack.[241]

Iranian Americans[edit]

A man holding a sign that reads "deport all Iranians" and "get the hell out of my country" during a protest of the Iran hostage crisis in Washington, D.C. in 1979.

The November 1979 Iranian hostage crisis of the U.S. embassy in Tehran precipitated a wave of anti-Iranian sentiment in the United States, directed both against the new Islamic regime and Iranian nationals and immigrants. Even though such sentiments gradually declined after the release of the hostages at the start of 1981, they sometimes flare up. In response, some Iranian immigrants to the U.S. have distanced themselves from their nationality and instead identify primarily on the basis of their ethnic or religious affiliations.[242]

Since the 1980s and especially since the 1990s, it has been argued, Hollywood's depiction of Iranians has gradually shown signs of vilifying Iranians.[243] Hollywood network productions such as 24,[244] John Doe, On Wings of Eagles (1986),[245] Escape from Iran: The Canadian Caper (1981),[246] and JAG almost regularly host Persian speaking villains in their story lines.

Indian Americans[edit]

In the United States, Indian Americans have sometimes been mistaken for Arabs or Muslims, and thus, many of the same prejudices which have been experienced by Arab Americans have also been experienced by Indian Americans, regardless of their actual religious or ethnic background.

In the 1980s, a gang known as the Dotbusters specifically targeted Indian Americans in Jersey City, New Jersey with violence and harassment.[247] Studies of racial discrimination, as well as stereotyping and scapegoating of Indian Americans have been conducted in recent years.[248] In particular, racial discrimination against Indian Americans in the workplace has been correlated with Indophobia due to the rise in outsourcing/offshoring, whereby Indian Americans are blamed for US companies offshoring white-collar labor to India.[249][250] According to the offices of the Congressional Caucus on India, many Indian Americans are severely concerned of a backlash, though nothing serious has taken place yet.[250] Due to various socio-cultural reasons, implicit racial discrimination against Indian Americans largely go unreported by the Indian American community.[248]

Numerous cases of religious stereotyping of American Hindus (mainly of Indian origin) have also been documented.[251]

Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, there have been scattered incidents of Indian Americans becoming mistaken targets for hate crimes. In one example, a Sikh, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was murdered at a Phoenix gas station in a hate crime.[252] This happened after September 11, and the murderer claimed that his turban made him think that the victim was a Middle Eastern American. In another example, a pizza deliverer was mugged and beaten in Massachusetts for "being Muslim" though the victim pleaded with the assailants that he was in fact a Hindu.[253] In December 2012, an Indian American in New York City was pushed from behind onto the tracks at the 40th Street-Lowery Street station in Sunnyside and killed.[254] The police arrested a woman, Erika Menendez, who admitted to the act and justified it, stating that she shoved him onto the tracks because she believed that he was "a Hindu or a Muslim" and she wanted to retaliate for the attacks on September 11, 2001.[255]


The Roma population in America has blended more-or-less seamlessly into the rest of American society.[256] In the United States, the term "Gypsy" has come to be associated with a trade, a profession, or a lifestyle more than with the Romani ethnic/racial group.[257] Some Americans, especially those who are self-employed in the fortune-telling and psychic reading businesses, use the term "Gypsy" to describe themselves or their enterprises, despite the fact that they have no ties to the Roma people. This practice is motivated by misperceptions and ignorance regarding the term rather than any expression of bigotry against Romani people which is called anti-ziganism.[258]


Historian Matthew White estimates that 3.3 million more non-white people died from 1900 up to the 1960s than they would have if they had died at the same rate as white people.[259]


Using The Schedule of Racist Events (SRE), an 18-item self-report inventory which assesses the frequency of racist discrimination, Hope Landrine and Elizabeth A. Klonoff found that racist discrimination is rampant in the lives of African Americans and as a result, it is strongly related to psychiatric symptoms.[260] A study on racist events in the lives of African American women found that lifetime experiences of racism were positively related to lifetime histories of both physical disease and the frequency of recent common colds. These relationships were largely unaccounted for by other variables. Demographic variables such as income and educational inequality were not related to experiences of racism. The results suggest that racism can be detrimental to African Americans' well-being.[261] The physiological stress caused by racism has been documented in studies by Claude Steele, Joshua Aronson, and Steven Spencer on what they term "stereotype threat."[262] Quite similarly, another example of the psychosocial consequences of discrimination have been observed in a study sampling Mexican-origin participants in Fresno, California. It was found that perceived discrimination is correlated with depressive symptoms, especially for those less acculturated in the United States, like Mexican immigrants and migrants.[263]

Along the vein of somatic responses to discrimination, Kennedy et al. found that both measures of collective disrespect were strongly correlated to black mortality (r = 0.53 to 0.56), as well as white mortality (r = 0.48 to 0.54). This data suggests that racism, measured as an ecological characteristic, is associated with a higher mortality rate among both blacks and whites.[264] Some researchers also suggest that racial segregation may lead to disparities in health and mortality. Thomas LaVeist (1989; 1993) tested the hypothesis that segregation would aid in explaining race differences in infant mortality rates across cities. Analyzing 176 large and midsized cities, LaVeist found support for the hypothesis. Since LaVeist's studies, segregation has received increased attention as a determinant of racial disparities in mortality.[citation needed] Studies have shown that mortality rates for male and female African Americans are lower in areas with lower levels of residential segregation. Mortality for male and female whites was not associated in either direction with residential segregation.[265]

Researchers Sharon A. Jackson, Roger T. Anderson, Norman J. Johnson and Paul D. Sorlie found that, after adjustment for family income, mortality risk increased with increasing minority residential segregation among Blacks aged 25 to 44 years and non-Blacks aged 45 to 64 years. In most age/race/gender groups, the highest and lowest mortality risks occurred in the highest and lowest categories of residential segregation, respectively. These results suggest that minority residential segregation may influence mortality risk and underscore the traditional emphasis on the social underpinnings of disease and death.[266] Rates of heart disease among African Americans are associated with the segregation patterns in the neighborhoods where they live (Fang et al. 1998). Stephanie A. Bond Huie writes that neighborhoods affect health and mortality outcomes primarily in an indirect fashion through environmental factors such as smoking, diet, exercise, stress, and access to health insurance and medical providers.[267] Moreover, segregation strongly influences premature mortality in the US.[268]

Much research has been done on the effects of racism on adults, but racism and discrimination also affects children and teens.[269] From infancy to adolescence, studies document a children's growth in understanding of race from being aware of race to later understanding how race and prejudice affects their life, the lives of others’, and society as a whole.[270][271][272][273][269] The comprehensive literature review of 214 published articles with key words related to the topic, such as discrimination, racism, and prejudice for adolescents aged 10–20 years (Benner et al., 2008) highlighted a link between teens' experiences of racial and ethnic discrimination and "their socioemotional distress, academic success, and risky health behaviors”. This study chose larger sample sized and peer reviewed studies, over smaller sampled and non-peer reviewed studies.[269]

In this review, researchers showed links between racial discrimination and lower socioemotional, academic, and behavioral outcomes. The socioemotional variable included depression, internalized symptoms, self-esteem, and positive well-being; academics included achievement, engagement, and motivation; and behavioral outcomes included externalized behaviors, substance abuse, deviant peer associations, and risky sexual behaviors.[269] Researchers examined the links between discrimination and other demographic variables such as race, age, and country of residence. When looking at the impact of race/ethnicity, results show that Asian and Latino youth show greater socioemotional distress and Latino youth show lower academic outcomes. Younger teens (10 to 13 years) experience more socioemotional distress than those in middle or late teens. Furthermore, when looking at county of residence, teens in the United States have a much stronger link to socioemotional distress than other countries included in the review.[269]

As early as 1866, the Civil Rights Act provided a remedy for intentional race discrimination in employment by private employers and state and local public employers. The Civil Rights Act of 1871 applies to public employment or employment involving state action prohibiting deprivation of rights secured by the federal constitution or federal laws through action under color of law. Title VII is the principal federal statute with regard to employment discrimination prohibiting unlawful employment discrimination by public and private employers, labor organizations, training programs and employment agencies based on race or color, religion, gender, and national origin. Title VII also prohibits retaliation against any person for opposing any practice forbidden by statute, or for making a charge, testifying, assisting, or participating in a proceeding under the statute. The Civil Rights Act of 1991 expanded the damages available in Title VII cases and granted Title VII plaintiffs the right to a jury trial. Title VII also provides that race and color discrimination against every race and color is prohibited.


Schemas and stereotypes[edit]

This racist postcard from the 1900s shows the casual denigration of black women. It states "I know you're not particular to a fault / Though I'm not sure you'll never be sued for assault / You're so fond of women that even a wench / Attracts your gross fancy despite her strong stench"


Popular culture (songs, theater) for European American audiences in the 19th century created and perpetuated negative stereotypes of African Americans. One key symbol of racism against African Americans was the use of blackface. Directly related to this was the institution of minstrelsy. Other stereotypes of African Americans included the fat, dark-skinned "mammy" and the irrational, hypersexual male "buck".

In recent years increasing numbers of African-American activists have asserted that rap music videos commonly utilize scantily clothed African-American performers posing as thugs or pimps. The NAACP and the National Congress of Black Women also have called for the reform of images on videos and on television. Julian Bond said that in a segregated society, people get their impressions of other groups from what they see in videos and what they hear in music.[274][275][276][277]

In 1899 Uncle Sam balances his new possessions which are depicted as "savage" children. The figures are Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Cuba, Philippines and "Ladrone Is." (the Mariana Islands).

In a similar vein, activists protested against the BET show, Hot Ghetto Mess, which satirizes the culture of working-class African-Americans. The protests resulted in the change of the television show name to We Got to Do Better.[274]

It is understood that representations of minorities in the media have the ability to reinforce or change stereotypes. For example, in one study, a collection of white subjects were primed by a comedy skit either showing a stereotypical or neutral portrayal of African-American characters. Participants were then required to read a vignette describing an incident of sexual violence, with the alleged offender either white or black, and assign a rating for perceived guilt. For those shown the stereotypical African-American character, there was a significantly higher guilt rating for black alleged offender in the subsequent vignette, in comparison to the other conditions.[278]

While schemas have an overt societal consequence, the strong development of them have lasting effect on recipients. Overall, it is found that strong in-group attitudes are correlated with academic and economic success. In a study analyzing the interaction of assimilation and racial-ethnic schemas for Hispanic youth found that strong schematic identities for Hispanic youth undermined academic achievement.[279]

Additional stereotypes attributed to minorities continue to influence societal interactions. For example, a 1993 Harvard Law Review article states that Asian-Americans are commonly viewed as submissive, as a combination of relative physical stature and Western comparisons of cultural attitudes. Furthermore, Asian-Americans are depicted as the model minority, unfair competitors, foreigners, and indistinguishable. These stereotypes can serve to dehumanize Asian-Americans and catalyze hostility and violence.[280]

Formal discrimination[edit]

Formal discrimination against minorities has been present throughout American history. Leland T. Saito, Associate Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California, writes, "Political rights have been circumscribed by race, class and gender since the founding of the United States, when the right to vote was restricted to white men of property. Throughout the history of the United States race has been used by whites – a category that has also shifted through time – for legitimizing and creating difference and social, economic and political exclusion."[281]

Within education, a survey of black students in sixteen majority white universities found that four of five African-Americans reported some form of racial discrimination. For example, in February 1988, the University of Michigan enforced a new anti discrimination code following the distribution of fliers saying blacks "don't belong in classrooms, they belong hanging from trees". Other forms of reported discrimination were refusal to sit next to black in lecture, ignored input in class settings, and informal segregation. While the penalties are imposed, the psychological consequences of formal discrimination can still manifest. Black students, for example, reported feelings of heightened isolation and suspicion. Furthermore, studies have shown that academic performance is stunted for black students with these feelings as a result of their campus race interactions.[282]

Minority-minority racism[edit]

Minority racism is sometimes considered controversial because of theories of power in society. Some theories of racism insist that racism can only exist in the context of social power so it can be imposed upon others.[283] Yet discrimination and racism has also been noted between racially marginalized groups. For example, there has been ongoing violence between African American and Mexican American gangs, particularly in Southern California.[284][285][286][287] There have been reports of racially motivated attacks against Mexican Americans who have moved into neighborhoods occupied mostly by African Americans, and vice versa.[288][289] According to gang experts and law enforcement agents, a longstanding race war between the Mexican Mafia and the Black Guerilla Family, a rival African American prison gang, has generated such intense racial hatred among Mexican Mafia leaders, or shot callers, that they have issued a "green light" on all blacks. This amounts to a standing authorization for Latino gang members to prove their mettle by terrorizing or even murdering any blacks sighted in a neighborhood claimed by a gang loyal to the Mexican Mafia.[dead link][290] There have been several significant riots in California prisons where Mexican American inmates and African Americans have targeted each other particularly, based on racial reasons.[291][292]

Conflict has also been noted between recent immigrant groups and their established ethnic counterparts within the United States. Rapidly-growing communities of African and Caribbean immigrants have come into conflict with American blacks. The amount of interaction and cooperation between black immigrants and American blacks is, ironically, debatable. One can argue that racial discrimination and cooperation are not ordinarily based on skin color, but are instead based on shared or common, cultural experiences and beliefs.[293][294]

Interpersonal discrimination[edit]

In a manner that defines interpersonal discrimination in the United States, Darryl Brown of the Virginia Law Review states that while "our society has established a consensus against blatant, intentional racism in the decades since Brown v Board of Education and it has also developed a sizeable set of legal remedies to address it", our legal system "ignores the possibility that 'race' is structural or interstitial, that it can be the root of injury even when it is not traceable to a specific intention or action"[295]

Unlike formal discrimination, interpersonal discrimination is often not an overt or deliberate act of racism. For example, in an incident regarding a racial remark which was made by a professor at Virginia Law, a rift was created by conflicting definitions of racism. For the students who defended the professor's innocence, "racism was defined as an act of intentional maliciousness". Yet for African Americans, racism was broadened to a detrimental influence on "the substantive dynamics of the classroom". As an effect, it is argued that the "daily repetition of subtle racism and subordination in the classroom can ultimately be, for African Americans, even more reductive of stress, anxiety and alienation than blatant racist acts can be." Moreover, the attention which is given to these acts of discrimination diverts energy from academics, becoming a distraction that white students do not generally face.[295]

Ethnic-racial socialization[edit]

Ethnic-racial socialization refers to the transfer of knowledge about various aspects of race and/ or ethnicity through generations.[296] Parents of color use ethnic-racial socialization to transfer cultural knowledge to their children in order to protect them from potential biases which they may face as a result of their ethnicity and/or race.[296] However, how parents choose to socialize their children regarding issues of ethnicity and race may affect children differently.[296] For example, when parent's socialization efforts focus on positive aspects of their race/ethnicity, children of color tend to report higher self-esteem.[296] On the other hand, if the focus of socialization mainly revolves around mistrust about interracial or inter-ethnic relations, children’s self-concept, or how children view themselves might suffer.[296] Promotion of socialization that centers on mistrust is especially harmful when parents present it without also teaching positive coping skills.[296]

Wang et al. (2020)[296] conducted a meta-analytic review of 334 articles examining the effects of ethnic-racial socialization on children of color’s psychosocial adjustment. Researchers evaluated the stage of children’s development in which the effects of ethnic-racial socialization would be most prominent. Their findings using their systematic review process showed a positive relationship between parental ethnic-racial socialization and psychosocial well-being measures, including self-perception, confidence, and interpersonal relationships.

The effects of age varied based on the psychosocial well-being measure a study used. Results showed that the link between positive self-perception and ethnic-racial socialization was most effective when it occurred in childhood and early adolescence.[296] On the other hand, children who reported positive relationships between their interpersonal relationships and ethnic-racial socialization showed this paper in middle to late adolescence.[296] The effects of ethnic-racial socialization also varied based on children's race/ethnicity. Self-perception and ethnic-racial socialization are related more positively among African Americans,[296] suggesting that parents used ethnic-racial socialization to buffer against the deep-rooted stigma and biases African Americans face in the United States.[296] Contrary to the experiences of African Americans, ethnic-racial socialization was related to low self-perception among Asian Americans.[296] Extensive research is required to better understand the connection of ethnic-racial socialization for Asian American children’s psychosocial well-being.[296]

In order to better understand the effects of ethnic-racial socialization and psychological development, research should take into account known moderating factors similar to stereotype threat.[296] It is important to note that the research findings were correlational and as such does not imply causality.

Institutional racism[edit]

Institutional racism is the theory that aspects of the structure, pervasive attitudes, and the established institutions in society disadvantage some racial groups, although not with an overtly discriminatory mechanism.[297] There are several factors that play into institutional racism, including but not limited to: accumulated wealth/benefits from racial groups that have benefited from past discrimination, educational and occupational disadvantages faced by non-native English speakers in the United States, ingrained stereotypical images that still remain in the society (e.g. black men are likely to be criminals).[298] Institutional racism impacts the lives of racial groups negatively as although legislations where passed in the mid 20th century to abolish any sort of segregation and discrimination it still does not change the fact that institutional racism is still able to occur to anyone. Peter Kaufman, a former sociology professor at the State University of New York [299] published an article in which Kaufman describes three instances in which institutional racism has contributed to current views of race.[300] These are:

  1. The mis- and Missing Education of Race, in which he describes problems the educational system has in discussing "slavery, race, racism, and topics such as white privilege". He goes on to say that schools are still segregated based on class and race, which also contributes to race relations[159]
  2. Residential Racial Segregation. According to Kaufman, the reason that schools are still segregated is due to towns and cities being largely segregated still.
  3. Media Monsters. This describes the role in which the media has in the portrayal of race. Mass media tends to play on "depictions of racialized stereotypes in the mass media [which are] ubiquitous, and such caricaturized images shape our perceptions of various racial groups". An example of this is the stereotyping of Blacks as criminals.[159][301]


Access to United States citizenship was restricted by race, beginning with the Naturalization Act of 1790 which excluded "non-whites" from citizenship.[47] Institutionalized prejudice existed against white practitioners of Roman Catholicism who immigrated from countries such as Ireland, Germany, Italy and France.[302] Other efforts included the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act and the 1924 National Origins Act.[303][304] The Immigration Act of 1924 was aimed at further restricting the immigration of Southern and Eastern Europeans who had begun to enter the country in large numbers beginning in the 1890s. By limiting the immigration of non-Northern Europeans, according to the U.S. Department of State Office of the Historian, the purpose of the 1924 act was "to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity".[305]

Following the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the racist preference for white immigrants which dated back to the 18th century was ended,[306] and in response to this change, white nationalism grew in the United States as the conservative movement developed in mainstream society.[307] Political scientist Samuel P. Huntington argues that it developed in reaction to the perceived decline in the essence of America's identity, an identity which was believed to be European, Anglo-Saxon Protestant and English-speaking.[308]

In conjunction with immigration reform in the late 1980s (the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986), IRCA-related instances of discriminatory behavior towards Hispanics with regard to employment have been documented within the United States. Because the measure made it unlawful to hire immigrants to work in the United States without authorization, avoidant treatment of "foreign-appearing workers" increased when employers avoided the risk of sanctions by bypassing the required record-keeping process.[309]

Nazi Germany's use of the American racist model[edit]

The U.S. was the global leader in codified racism, and its race laws fascinated the Germans.[310] The National Socialist Handbook for Law and Legislation of 1934–35, edited by the lawyer Hans Frank, contains a pivotal essay by Herbert Kier on the recommendations for race legislation which devoted a quarter of its pages to U.S. legislation—from segregation, race based citizenship, immigration regulations, and anti-miscegenation.[310] Hitler and other Nazis praised America's system of institutional racism and believed that it was the model which should be followed in their Reich. In particular, they believed that it was the model for the expansion of German territory into the territories of other nations and the elimination of their indigenous inhabitants, as well as the model for the implementation of racist immigration laws which banned some races, and laws which denied full citizenship to blacks, which they also wanted to implement against Jews. Hitler's book Mein Kampf extolled America as the only contemporary example of a country with racist ("völkisch") citizenship statutes in the 1920s, and Nazi lawyers made use of American models when they crafted their own laws in Nazi Germany.[310] U.S. citizenship laws and anti-miscegenation laws directly inspired the two principal Nuremberg Laws—the Citizenship Law and the Blood Law.[310] Establishing a restrictive entry system for Germany, Hitler admiringly wrote: "The American Union categorically refuses the immigration of physically unhealthy elements, and simply excludes the immigration of certain races."[311]

Sectors of American society[edit]


A 2014 meta-analysis of racial discrimination in product markets found extensive evidence of minority applicants being quoted higher prices for products.[312] A 1995 study found that car dealers "quoted significantly lower prices to white males than to black or female test buyers using identical, scripted bargaining strategies."[313] A 2013 study found that eBay sellers of iPods received 21 percent more offers if a white hand held the iPod in the photo than a black hand.[314]

A 2014 study in the Journal of Economic Growth found that anti-black violence and terrorism, as well as segregation laws, reduced the economic activity and innovation of African Americans.[315]

Historically, African-Americans have faced discrimination in terms of getting access to credit.[316]

Criminal justice system[edit]

Racial disparities in the share of prisoners, police officers, people shot by police, and judges in the United States in the late 2010s

Research suggests that police practices, such as racial profiling, over-policing in areas which are populated by minorities and in-group bias may result in a disproportionately high number of crime suspects who are members of racial minority groups.[317][318][319][320] Research also suggests that discrimination is practiced by the judicial system, which contributes to the fact that a high number of convictions and unfavorable sentences are imposed on members of racial minority groups.[321][322][323][324][325][326] A 2012 study found that "(i) juries formed from all-white jury pools convict black defendants significantly (16 percentage points) more often than white defendants, and (ii) this gap in conviction rates is entirely eliminated when the jury pool includes at least one black member."[321] Research has found evidence of in-group bias, where "black (white) juveniles who are randomly assigned to black (white) judges are more likely to get incarcerated (as opposed to being placed on probation), and they receive longer sentences."[322] In-group bias has also been observed when it comes to traffic citations, because black and white cops are more likely to cite out-groups.[319]

A 2014 study in the Journal of Political Economy found that 9% of the black-white gap in sentencing could not be accounted for.[324] The elimination of unexplained sentencing disparities would reduce "the level of black men who are in federal prisons by 8,000–11,000 men [out of a black male prison population of 95,000] and save $230–$320 million in direct costs per year."[324] The majority of the unexplained sentencing disparity appears to occur at the point when prosecutors decide to bring charges which carry "mandatory minimum" sentences.[324] A 2018 paper by Alma Cohen and Crystal Yang of Harvard Law School found "that Republican-appointed judges give substantially longer prison sentences to black offenders versus observably similar non-black offenders compared to Democratic-appointed judges who serve within the same district court."[327] A 2018 study in the Quarterly Journal of Economics found that bail judges in Miami and Philadelphia were racially biased against black defendants, because white defendants had higher rates of pretrial misconduct than black defendants did.[323]

A 2018 study in the American Journal of Public Health found that black and Hispanic men were far more likely to be killed by police than white men were.[328]

A 2016 study by economist Roland G. Fryer, Jr. of the National Bureau of Economic Research, updated in 2018, found that while overall "blacks are 21 percent more likely than whites to be involved in an interaction with police in which at least a weapon is drawn" and that in the raw data from New York City's Stop and Frisk program "blacks and Hispanics are more than fifty percent more likely to have an interaction with police which involves any use of force" after "[p]artitioning the data in myriad ways, we find no evidence of racial discrimination in officer-involved shootings."[330] The study did find bias against blacks and Hispanics in non-lethal and less-extreme lethal violence, stating that "as the intensity of force increases (e.g. handcuffing civilians without arrest, drawing or pointing a weapon, or using pepper spray or a baton), the probability that any civilian is subjected to such treatment is small, but the racial difference remains surprisingly constant", and noted that "[u]ntil recently, data on officer-involved shootings were extremely rare and contained little information on the details surrounding an incident".[330]

After the NBER study was published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Political Economy, a 2019 paper by Princeton University political scientists disputed the findings by Fryer, saying that if police had a higher threshold for stopping whites, this might mean that the whites, Hispanics and blacks who were included in Fryer's data are not similar.[332] A further October 2020 comment on the NBER paper by Steven Durlauf and (Nobel Prize in Economics recipient) James Heckman of the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago stated, "[i]n our judgment, this paper does not establish credible evidence on the presence or absence of discrimination against African Americans in police shootings."[333] Fryer responded by saying Durlauf and Heckman erroneously claim that his sample is "based on stops". Further, he states that the "vast majority of the data...is gleaned from 911 calls for service in which a civilian requests police presence."[334]

Reports by the Department of Justice have also found that police officers in Baltimore, Maryland, and Ferguson, Missouri, systemically stop, search (in some cases strip-search) and harass black residents.[335][336] A January 2017 report by the DOJ also found that the Chicago Police Department had "unconstitutionally engaged in a pattern of excessive and deadly force" and the report also found that the police "have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color."[337] A 2018 study found that police officers more likely to use lethal force on blacks.[338] A 2019 study in the Journal of Politics found that police officers were more likely to use lethal force on blacks, but that this "most likely driven by higher rates of police contact among African Americans rather than racial differences in the circumstances of the interaction and officer bias in the application of lethal force."[339] A 2019 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that blacks and American Indian/Alaska Natives are more likely to be killed by police than whites, and that Latino men are more likely to be killed than white men.[340] According to the study, "for young men of color, police use of force is among the leading causes of death."[340] A separate Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study found that there were no racial disparities in police shootings by white police;[341] the findings of the study were disputed by Princeton University scholars who argued that the study's method and dataset made it impossible for the authors to reach that conclusion.[342][343] The authors of the original PNAS study corrected their article following the criticism by the Princeton scholars.[344] A study by Texas A&M University economists, which rectified some problems of selection bias identified in the literature above, found that white police officers were more likely to use force and guns than black police, and that white officers were five times as likely to use gun force in predominantly black neighborhoods.[345] A 2020 American Political Science Review study estimated that 39% of uses of force by police against blacks and Hispanics in New York City was racially discriminatory.[332] A 2020 study in the journal Nature found that black drivers were stopped more often than white drivers, and that the threshold by which police decided to search black and Hispanic drivers was lower than that for whites (judging by the rate at which contraband was found in searches).[346]

In criminal sentencing, medium to dark-skinned African Americans are likely to receive sentences 2.6 years longer than those of whites or light-skinned African Americans. When a white victim is involved, those with more "black" features are likely to receive a much more severe punishment.[347] A 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research experiment found that law students, economics students and practicing lawyers who watched 3D Virtual Reality videos of court trials (where the researchers altered the race of the defendants) showed a racial bias against minorities.[348]

According to a 2011 ProPublica analysis, "whites are nearly four times as likely as minorities to win a pardon, even when the type of crime and severity of sentence are taken into account."[349]

A 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that blacks were "3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession," even though "blacks and whites use drugs, including marijuana, at similar rates."[350]

A 2014 study on the application of the death penalty in Connecticut over the period 1973–2007 found "that minority defendants who kill white victims are capitally charged at substantially higher rates than minority defendants who kill minorities... There is also strong and statistically significant evidence that minority defendants who kill whites are more likely to end up with capital sentences than comparable cases with white defendants."[351]

A 2016 analysis by the New York Times "of tens of thousands of disciplinary cases against inmates in 2015, hundreds of pages of internal reports and three years of parole decisions found that racial disparities were embedded in the prison experience in New York."[352] Blacks and Latinos were sent more frequently to solitary and held there for longer durations than whites.[352] The New York Times analysis found that the disparities were the greatest for violations where the prison guards had much discretion, such as disobeying orders, but smaller for violations that required physical evidence, such as possessing contraband.[352]

A 2016 report by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune found that Florida judges sentence black defendants to far longer prison sentences than whites with the same background.[353] For the same drug possession crimes, blacks were sentenced to double the time of whites.[353] Blacks were given longer sentences in 60 percent of felony cases, 68 percent of the most serious first-degree crimes, 45 percent of burglary cases and 30 percent of battery cases.[353] For third-degree felonies (the least serious types of felonies in Florida), white judges sentenced blacks to twenty percent more time than whites, whereas black judges gave more balanced sentences.[353]

A 2017 report by the Marshall Project found that killings of black men by whites were far more likely to be deemed "justifiable" than killings by any other combination of races.[354]

A 2017 report by the United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) found, "after controlling for a wide variety of sentencing factors" (such as age, education, citizenship, weapon possession and prior criminal history), that "black male offenders received sentences on average 19.1 percent longer than similarly situated White male offenders."[355][356]

A 2018 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that tall young black men are especially likely to receive unjustified attention by law enforcement.[357] The authors furthermore found a "causal link between perceptions of height and perceptions of threat for Black men, particularly for perceivers who endorse stereotypes that Black people are more threatening than White people."[357]

A 2018 study in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics found that judges gave longer sentences, in particular to black defendants, after their favorite team lost a home game.[358]

Analysis of more than 20 million traffic stops in North Carolina showed that blacks were more than twice as likely as whites to be pulled over by police for traffic stops, and that blacks were more likely to be searched following the stop. There were no significant difference in the likelihood that Hispanics would be pulled over, but Hispanics were much more likely to be searched following a traffic stop than whites. When the study controlled for searches in high-crime areas, it still found that police disproportionately targeted black individuals. These racial disparities were particularly pronounced for young men. The study found that whites who were searched were more likely to carry contraband than blacks and Hispanics.[359][360]

A 2018 study in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies found that law enforcement officers in Texas who could charge shoplifters with two types of crimes (one more serious, one less so) due to a vaguely worded statute were more likely to charge blacks and Hispanics with the more serious crime.[361]

A 2019 study, which made use of a dataset of the racial makeup of every U.S. sheriff over a 25-year period, found that "ratio of Black‐to‐White arrests is significantly higher under White sheriffs" and that the effects appear to be "driven by arrests for less‐serious offenses and by targeting Black crime types."[362]

A 2019 audit study found that lawyers are less likely to take on clients with black-sounding names than white-sounding names.[363]

A 2019 study by the National Institute of Standards and Technology found that facial-recognition systems were substantially more likely to misidentify the faces of racial minorities.[364] Some ethnic groups, such as Asian-Americans and African-American, were up to 100 times more likely to be misidentified than white men.[364]


In 1954, Brown vs. the Board of Education ruled that integrated, equal schools be accessible to all children unbiased to skin color. Currently in the United States, not all state funded schools are equally funded.  Schools are funded by the "federal, state, and local governments" while "states play a large and increasing role in education funding."[365] "Property taxes support most of the funding that local government provides for education."[365] Schools located in lower income areas receive a lower level of funding and schools located in higher income areas receiving greater funding for education all based on property taxes.  The U.S. Department of Education reports that "many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding, leaving students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers."[366] The U.S. Department of Education also reports this fact affects "more than 40% of low-income schools."[366] Children of color are much more likely to suffer from poverty than white children.

A 2015 study using correspondence tests "found that when considering requests from prospective students seeking mentoring in the future, faculty were significantly more responsive to White males than to all other categories of students, collectively, particularly in higher-paying disciplines and private institutions."[367] Through affirmative action, elite colleges consider a broader range of experiences for minority applicants.[368]

A 2016 study in the journal PNAS found that blacks and Hispanics were systemically underrepresented in education-programs for gifted children where teachers and parents referred students to those programs; when a universal screening program based on IQ was used to refer students, the disparity was reduced significantly.[369]

The phrase "brown paper bag test," also known as a paper bag party, along with the "ruler test" refers to a ritual once practiced by certain African-American sororities and fraternities who would not let anyone into the group whose skin tone was darker than a paper bag.[370] Spike Lee's film School Daze satirized this practice at historically black colleges and universities.[371] Along with the "paper bag test," guidelines for acceptance among the lighter ranks included the "comb test" and "pencil test," which tested the coarseness of one's hair, and the "flashlight test," which tested a person's profile to make sure their features measured up or were close enough to those of the Caucasian race.[370]

A 2013 study used spectrophotometer readings to quantify skin color of respondents. White women experience discrimination in education, with those having darker skin graduating from college at lower rates than those with lighter skin. This precise and repeatable test of skin color revealed that white women experience skin color discrimination in education at levels consistent with African-Americans. White men are not affected in this way.[372]

In August 2020, the US Justice Department argued that Yale University discriminated against Asian candidates on the basis of their race, a charge the university denied.[373]


Richard Henry Pratt founded the first Native American boarding school in 1879. The goal of these schools was to teach Native American students White ways of being through education which emphasized European cultural values and the superiority of White American ways of life.[374]

The curriculum in U.S. schools has also contained racism against non-white Americans, including Native Americans, black Americans, Mexican Americans, and Asian Americans.[375][376] Particularly during the 19th and early 20th centuries, school textbooks and other teaching materials emphasized the biological and social inferiority of black Americans, consistently portraying black people as simple, irresponsible, and oftentimes, in situations of suffering that were implied to be their fault (and not the effects of slavery and other oppression).[375][376] Black Americans were also depicted as expendable and their suffering as commonplace, as evidenced by a poem about "Ten Little Nigger Boys" dying off one by one that was circulated as a children's counting exercise from 1875 to the mid-1900s.[376] Historian Carter G. Woodson analyzed American curriculum as completely lacking any mention of black Americans' merits in the early 20th century. Based on his observations of the time, he wrote that American students, including black students, who went through U.S. schooling would come out believing that black people had no significant history and had contributed nothing to human civilization, which is not true.[377]

Another major example of racism in education is the targeted schooling of Native Americans in American Indian Boarding Schools, in which the curriculum was designed to commit cultural genocide against Native peoples.[376][378] In these schools, Native children were prohibited from participating in any of their cultures' traditions, including speaking their own languages. Instead, they were required to speak English at all times and learn geography, science, and history (among other disciplines) as white Americans saw fit.[376][378] This meant learning a version of history that upheld whites' superiority and rightful "inheritance" of the lands of the United States, while Natives were relegated to a position of having to assimilate to white culture without ever truly being considered equals.[376]

School curriculum often implicitly and explicitly upheld white people as the superior race marginalized the contributions and perspectives of non-white peoples as if they were (or are) not as important.[379] In the 19th century, a significant number of students were taught that Adam and Eve were white, and the other races evolved from their various descendants, growing further and further away from the original white standard.[375] In addition, whites were also fashioned as the capable caretakers of other races, namely black and Native people, who could not take care of themselves.[375] This concept was at odds with the violence white Americans had committed against indigenous and black peoples, but it was coupled with soft language that, for example, defended these acts. Mills (1994) cites the narrative about Europeans' "discovery" of a "New World," despite the people who already inhabited it, and its subsequent "colonization" instead of conquest, as examples. He maintains that these word choices constitute a cooptation of history by white people, who have used it to their advantage.[379]


A 2019 review of the literature in the Annual Review of Public Health found that structural racism, cultural racism, and individual-level discrimination are "a fundamental cause of adverse health outcomes for racial/ethnic minorities and racial/ethnic inequities in health."[380]

A 1999 study found that doctors treat black and white patients differently, even when their medical files are statistically identical.[381] When they were shown patient histories and asked to make judgments about heart disease, the doctors were much less likely to recommend cardiac catheterization (a helpful procedure) to black patients.[381] A 2015 study found that pediatricians were more likely to undertreat appendicitis pain in black children than white children.[382] A 2017 study found that medical staff which was treating anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries perceived black collegiate athletes as having higher pain tolerance than white athletes.[383] A study by University of Toronto and Ohio State University economists found substantial evidence of racial discrimination against black veterans in terms of medical treatment and awarding of disability pensions in the late 19th and early 20th century; the discrimination was substantial enough to account for nearly the entire black-white mortality gap in the period.[384] A 2019 study in Science found that one widely used algorithm to assess health risks falsely concluded that "Black patients are healthier than equally sick White patients", thus leading health care providers to provide lower levels of care for black patients.[385]

A 2018 ProPublica analysis found that African Americans and Native Americans were underrepresented in clinical trials for new drugs. Fewer than 5% of patients were African-American, even though they make up 13.4% of the total US population. African-Americans were even underrepresented in trials which involved drugs which were intended to treat diseases which disproportionately affect African-Americans. As a result, African-Americans who had exhausted all other available treatment options have less access to experimental treatment options.[386]

Studies have argued that there are racial disparities in how the media and politicians act when they are faced with cases of drug addiction in which the victims are primarily black rather than white, citing the examples of how society responded differently to the crack epidemic than the opioid epidemic.[387][388]

There are major racial differences in access to health care as well as major racial differences in the quality of the health care which is provided to people. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that: "over 886,000 deaths could have been prevented from 1991 to 2000 if African Americans had received the same quality of care as whites". The key differences which they cited were lack of insurance, inadequate insurance, poor service, and reluctance to seek care.[389] A history of government-sponsored experimentation, such as the notorious Tuskegee Syphilis Study has left a legacy of African American distrust of the medical system.[390]

Inequalities in health care may also reflect a systemic bias in the way in which medical procedures and treatments are prescribed to members of different ethnic groups. A University of Edinburgh Professor of Public Health, Raj Bhopal, writes that the history of racism in science and medicine shows that people and institutions behave according to the ethos of their times and he also warns of dangers that need to be avoided in the future.[391] A Harvard Professor of Social Epidemiology contended that much modern research supported the assumptions which were needed to justify racism. She writes that racism underlies unexplained inequities in health care, including treatments for heart disease,[392] renal failure,[393] bladder cancer,[394] and pneumonia.[395] Bhopal writes that these inequalities have been documented in various studies and there are consistent findings that black Americans receive less health care than white Americans—particularly where this involves expensive new technology.[396] The University of Michigan Health study found in 2010 that black patients in pain clinics received 50% of the amount of drugs that other patients who were white received.[397] Black pain in medicine links to the racial disparities between pain management and racial bias on behalf of the health professional. In 2011, Vermont organizers took a proactive stand against racism in their communities to defeat the biopolitical struggles faced on a daily basis. The first and only universal health care law was passed in the state.[398]

Two local governments in the US have issued declarations stating that racism constitutes a public health emergency: the Milwaukee County, Wisconsin executive in May 2019, and the Cleveland City Council, in June 2020.[399][400]

Housing and land[edit]

A 2014 meta-analysis found extensive evidence of racial discrimination in the American housing market.[312] Minority applicants for housing needed to make many more enquiries to view properties.[401] Geographical steering of African-Americans in US housing remains significant.[401] A 2003 study found "evidence that agents interpret an initial housing request as an indication of a customer's preferences, but also are more likely to withhold a house from all customers when it is in an integrated suburban neighborhood (redlining). Moreover, agents' marketing efforts increase with asking price for white, but not for black, customers; blacks are more likely than whites to see houses in suburban, integrated areas (steering); and the houses agents show are more likely to deviate from the initial request when the customer is black than when the customer is white. These three findings are consistent with the possibility that agents act upon the belief that some types of transactions are relatively unlikely for black customers (statistical discrimination)."[402] Historically, there was extensive and long-lasting racial discrimination against African-Americans in the housing and mortgage markets in the United States,[403][404] as well as discrimination against black farmers whose numbers massively declined in post-WWII America due to anti-black local and federal policies.[405] According to a 2019 analysis by University of Pittsburgh economists, blacks faced a two-fold penalty due to the racially segregated housing market: rental prices increased in blocks when they underwent racial transition whereas home values declined in neighborhoods that blacks moved into.[406]

A report by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development where the department sent African-Americans and whites to look at apartments found that African-Americans were shown fewer apartments to rent and houses for sale.[407] A 2017 study found that "that applications [for Airbnb housing] from guests with distinctively African American names are 16 percent less likely to be accepted relative to identical guests with distinctively white names."[408]

A 2017 paper by Troesken and Walsh found that pre-20th century cities "created and sustained residential segregation through private norms and vigilante activity." However, "when these private arrangements began to break down during the early 1900s" whites started "lobbying municipal governments for segregation ordinances." As a result, cities passed ordinances which "prohibited members of the majority racial group on a given city block from selling or renting property to members of another racial group" between 1909 and 1917.[409]

A 2017 study by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economists found that the practice of redlining—the practice whereby banks discriminated against the inhabitants of certain neighborhoods—had a persistent adverse impact on the neighborhoods, with redlining affecting homeownership rates, home values and credit scores in 2010.[410][411] Since many African-Americans could not access conventional home loans, they had to turn to predatory lenders (who charged high interest rates).[411] Due to lower home ownership rates, slumlords were able to rent out apartments that would otherwise be owned.[411] A 2019 analysis estimated that predatory housing contracts targeting African-Americans in Chicago in the 1950s and 1960s cost black families between $3 billion and $4 billion in wealth.[412]

A 2017 study in Research & Politics found that white supporters of Donald Trump became less likely to approve of federal housing assistance when they were shown an image of a black man.[413][414]

A 2018 study in the American Sociological Review found that housing market professionals (real estate agents, housing developers, mortgage appraisers and home value appraisers) held derogatory racial views about black and Latino individuals and neighborhoods whereas white individuals and neighborhoods were beneficiaries of widely shared, positive racial beliefs.[415]

A 2018 experimental study by University of Illinois and Duke University economists found that real estate agents and housing providers systematically recommended homes in neighborhoods with higher poverty rates, greater pollution, higher crime rates, fewer college educated families, and fewer skilled workers to minority individuals who had all the same characteristics as white individuals except ethnic differences.[416]

A 2018 study in the American Political Science Review found that white voters in areas which experienced massive African-American population growth between 1940 and 1960 were more likely to vote for California Proposition 14 (1964) which sought to enshrine legal protections for landlords and property owners who discriminated against "colored" buyers and renters.[417]

A 2018 study in the Journal of Politics found extensive evidence of discrimination against blacks and Hispanics in the New York City rental market.[418] A 2018 study in the journal Regional Science and Urban Economics found that there was discrimination against blacks and Arab males in the U.S. rental market.[419] A 2018 study in the Journal of Regional Science found that "black households pay more for identical housing in identical neighborhoods than their white counterparts... In neighborhoods with the smallest fraction white, the premium is about 0.6%. In neighborhoods with the largest fraction white, it is about 2.4%."[420]

Labor market[edit]

Several meta-analyses find extensive evidence of ethnic and racial discrimination in hiring in the American labor market.[401][421][422][423] A 2017 meta-analysis found "no change in the levels of discrimination against African Americans since 1989, although we do find some indication of declining discrimination against Latinos."[424] A 2016 meta-analysis of 738 correspondence tests – tests where identical CVs for stereotypically black and white names were sent to employers – in 43 separate studies conducted in OECD countries between 1990 and 2015 finds that there is extensive racial discrimination in hiring decisions in Europe and North America.[421] These correspondence tests showed that equivalent minority candidates need to send around 50% more applications to be invited for an interview than majority candidates.[421][425] A study which examined the job applications of actual people who were provided with identical résumés and similar interview training showed that African-American applicants with no criminal record were offered jobs at a rate as low as white applicants who had criminal records.[426] A 2018 National Bureau of Economic Research paper found evidence of racial bias in how CVs were evaluated.[427] A 2020 study revealed that discrimination not only exists against minorities in callback rates in audit studies, it also increases in severity after the callbacks in terms of job offers.[428]

Research suggests that light-skinned African American women have higher salaries and greater job satisfaction than dark-skinned women.[429] Being "too black" has recently been acknowledged by the U.S. Federal courts in an employment discrimination case under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In Etienne v. Spanish Lake Truck & Casino Plaza, LLC the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, determined that an employee who was told on several occasions that her manager thought she was "too black" to do various tasks, found that the issue of the employee's skin color rather than race itself, played a key role in an employer's decision to keep the employee from advancing.[430] A 2018 study uncovered evidence which suggests that immigrants with darker skin colors are discriminated against.[431]

A 2019 experimental study found that there was a bias against blacks, Latinos and women in the hiring of postdocs in the fields of biology and physics.[432][433]

A 2008 study found that black service providers receive lower tips than white service providers.[434] Research shows that "ban the box" (the removal of the check box which asks job applicants if they have criminal records) leads employers to discriminate against young, black low-skilled applicants, possibly because employers simply assume that these applicants have checkered pasts when they are unable to prove that they do not.[435]


A 2017 report by Travis L. Dixon (of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) found that major media outlets tended to portray black families as dysfunctional and dependent while white families were portrayed as stable. These portrayals may give the impression that poverty and welfare are primarily black issues. According to Dixon, this can reduce public support for social safety programs and lead to stricter welfare requirements.[436][437] A 2018 study found that media portrayals of Muslims were substantially more negative than for other religious groups (even when controlling for relevant factors).[438] A 2019 study described media portrayals of minority women in crime news stories as based on "outdated and harmful stereotypes."[439]

African Americans who possess a lighter skin complexion and "European features," such as lighter eyes, and smaller noses and lips have more opportunities in the media industry. For example, film producers hire lighter-skinned African Americans more often, television producers choose lighter-skinned cast members, and magazine editors choose African American models that resemble European features.[440] A content analysis conducted by Scott and Neptune (1997) shows that less than one percent of advertisements in major magazines featured African American models. When African Americans did appear in advertisements they were mainly portrayed as athletes, entertainers or unskilled laborers. In addition, seventy percent of the advertisements that features animal print included African American women. Animal print reinforces the stereotypes that African Americans are animalistic in nature, sexually active, less educated, have lower income, and extremely concerned with personal appearances.[441] Concerning African American males in the media, darker-skinned men are more likely to be portrayed as violent or more threatening, influencing the public perception of African American men. Since dark-skinned males are more likely to be linked to crime and misconduct, many people develop preconceived notions about the characteristics of black men.[442]

Colorism was and still is very much evident in the media. An example of this is shown in the minstrel shows that were popular during and after slavery. Minstrel shows were a very popular form of theater that involved white and black people in black face portraying black people while doing demeaning things. The actors painted their faces with black paint to and over lined their lips with bright red lipstick to exaggerate and make fun of black people.[443] When minstrel shows died out and television became popular, black actors were rarely hired and when they were, they had very specific roles. These roles included being servants, slaves, idiots, and criminals.[444] White people wanted to keep this narrative going that black people were forever in debt to them because they essentially rescued blacks from themselves and made them humans instead of savages. This is seen in the "mammy" role that black women often played. The highlights of this role included black women being the loyal servant to the master and taking care of and loving his kids more than her own. Even though black people were allowed to be on TV, they still couldn't be too black. They had to pass the color tests and if they were dark, they were usually playing a humiliating role. That trend is something that follows into present day especially for women.[citation needed] There is a huge absence of dark black women in the media and when they are shown, they are typically portraying the angry black woman stereotype but have a light-skinned character to balance them out. Darker women are rarely the protagonist that isn't troubled by drugs, or caught up in the legal system.


A 2011 study found that white state legislators of both political parties were less likely to respond to constituents with African-American names.[445] A 2013 study found that in response to e-mail correspondence from a putatively black alias, "nonblack legislators were markedly less likely to respond when their political incentives to do so were diminished, black legislators typically continued to respond even when doing so promised little political reward. Black legislators thus appear substantially more intrinsically motivated to advance blacks' interests."[446]

Some research suggests that white voters' voting behavior is motivated by racial threat. A 2016 study, for instance, found that white Chicago voters' turnout decreased when public housing was reconstructed and 25,000 African Americans displaced. This suggest that white voters' turnout decreased due to not living in proximity to African-Americans.[447]

Voter ID laws have brought on accusations of racial discrimination. In a 2014 review by the Government Accountability Office of the academic literature, three studies out of five found that voter ID laws reduced minority turnout whereas two studies found no significant impact.[401] Disparate impact may also be reflected in access to information about voter ID laws. A 2015 experimental study found that election officials queried about voter ID laws are more likely to respond to emails from a non-Latino white name (70.5% response rate) than a Latino name (64.8% response rate), though response accuracy was similar across groups.[448] Studies have also analyzed racial differences in ID requests rates. A 2012 study in the city of Boston found that black and Hispanic voters were more likely to be asked for ID during the 2008 election. According to exit polls, 23% of whites, 33% of blacks, and 38% of Hispanics were asked for ID, though this effect is partially attributed to black and Hispanics preferring non-peak voting hours when election officials inspected a greater portion of IDs. Precinct differences also confound the data as black and Hispanic voters tended to vote at black and Hispanic-majority precincts.[449] A 2010 study of the 2006 midterm election in New Mexico found that Hispanics were more likely to incur ID requests while early voters, women, and non-Hispanics were less likely to incur requests.[450] A 2009 study of the 2006 midterm election nationwide found that 47% of white voters reported being asked to show photo identification at the polls, compared with 54% of Hispanics and 55% of African Americans."[451] Very few were however denied the vote as a result of voter identification requests.[451] A 2015 study found that turnout among blacks in Georgia was generally higher since the state began enforcing its strict voter ID law.[452] A 2016 study by University of California, San Diego researchers found that voter ID laws "have a differentially negative impact on the turnout of Hispanics, Blacks, and mixed-race Americans in primaries and general elections."[453]

Research by University of Oxford economist Evan Soltas and Stanford political scientist David Broockman suggests that voters act upon racially discriminatory tastes.[454] A 2018 study in Public Opinion Quarterly found that whites, in particular those who had racial resentment, largely attributed Obama's success among African-Americans to his race, and not his characteristics as a candidate and the political preferences of African-Americans.[455] A 2018 study in the journal American Politics Research found that white voters tended to misperceive political candidates from racial minorities as being more ideologically extreme than objective indicators would suggest; this adversely affected the electoral chances for those candidates.[456] A 2018 study in the Journal of Politics found that "when a white candidate makes vague statements, many [nonblack] voters project their own policy positions onto the candidate, increasing support for the candidate. But they are less likely to extend black candidates the same courtesy... In fact, black male candidates who make ambiguous statements are actually punished for doing so by racially prejudiced voters."[457]

A 2018 study found evidence of racial-motivated reasoning as voters assessed President Barack Obama's economic performance. The study found that "Whites attributed more responsibility to Obama under negative economic conditions (i.e., blame) than positive economic conditions (i.e., credit)... Whites attributed equal responsibility to the President and governors for negative economic conditions, but gave more responsibility to governors than Obama for positive conditions. Whites also gave governors more responsibility for state improvements than they gave Obama for national ones."[458]

A 2018 study examining "all 24 African American challengers (non-incumbents) from 2000 to 2014 to white challengers from the same party running in the same state for the same office around the same time" found "that white challengers are about three times more likely to win and receive about 13 percentage points more support among white voters. These estimates hold when controlling for a number of potential confounding factors and when employing several statistical matching estimators."[459]

A 2019 study found that whites are less supportive of welfare when they are told that blacks are the majority of recipients (as opposed to whites).[421] However, when informed that most welfare recipients eventually gain jobs and leave the welfare program, this racial bias disappears.[421]

An analysis by MIT political scientist Regina Bateson found that Americans engage in strategic discrimination against racial minority candidates out of a belief that they are less electable than white male candidates: "In the abstract, Americans consider white men more "electable" than equally qualified black and female candidates. Additionally, concerns about winning the votes of white men can cause voters to rate black and female Democratic candidates as less capable of beating Donald Trump in 2020."[460]

A 2019 paper found, using smartphone data, that voters in predominantly black neighborhoods waited far longer at polling places than voters in white neighborhoods.[461]

It is argued that the racial coding of concepts like crime and welfare has been used to strategically influence public political views. Racial coding is implicit; it incorporates racially primed language or imagery in order to allude to racial attitudes and thinking. For example, in the context of domestic policy, it is argued that Ronald Reagan implied that linkages existed between concepts like "special interests" and "big government" and ill-perceived minority groups in the 1980s, using the conditioned negativity which existed toward the minority groups in order to discredit certain policies and programs during campaigns. In a study which analyzes how political ads prime attitudes, Valentino compares the voting responses of participants after they are exposed to the narration of a George W. Bush advertisement which is paired with three different types of visuals which contain different embedded racial cues in order to create three conditions: neutral, race comparison, and undeserving blacks. For example, as the narrator states "Democrats want to spend your tax dollars on wasteful government programs", the video shows an image of a black woman and her child in an office setting. Valentino found that the undeserving blacks condition produced the largest primed effect in racialized policies, like opposition to affirmative action and welfare spending.[462]

Ian Haney López, Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, refers to this phenomenon as dog-whistle politics, which, he argues, has pushed middle class white Americans to vote against their economic self-interest in order to punish "undeserving minorities" which, they believe, are receiving too much public assistance at their expense. According to López, conservative middle-class whites, convinced that minorities are the enemy by powerful economic interests, supported politicians who promised to curb illegal immigration and crack down on crime, but inadvertently they also voted for policies that favor the extremely rich, such as slashing taxes for top income brackets, giving corporations more regulatory control over industry and financial markets, busting unions, cutting pensions for future public employees, reducing funding for public schools, and retrenching the social welfare state. He argues that these same voters cannot link rising inequality which has impacted their lives to the policy agendas which they support, which resulted in a massive transfer of wealth to the top 1% of the population since the 1980s.[463]

A book released by the former attorney of Donald Trump, Michael Cohen, in September 2020, Disloyal: A Memoir described Trump of routinely referring to Black leaders of foreign nations with racial insults, and that he was consumed with hatred for Barack Obama. Cohen in the book explained that “as a rule, Trump expressed low opinions of all Black folks, from music to culture and politics”. Besides, he also called Nelson Mandela “no leader”.[464]



A 2018 study found evidence that nonblack voters in Heisman Trophy voting were biased against nonblack players.[465] A 2019 study found that after controlling for objective measures of performance, broadcast commentators were "more likely to discuss the performance and mental abilities of lighter-skinned players and the physical characteristics of darker-skinned players" in the Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament.[466]


Large racial differentials in wealth remain in the United States: between whites and African Americans, the gap is a factor of twenty.[467] An analyst of the phenomenon, Thomas Shapiro, professor of law and social policy at Brandeis University argues, "The wealth gap is not just a story of merit and achievement, it's also a story of the historical legacy of race in the United States."[468] Differentials applied to the Social Security Act (which excluded agricultural workers, a sector which then included most black workers), rewards to military officers, and the educational benefits offered returning soldiers after World War II. Pre-existing disparities in wealth are exacerbated by tax policies that reward investment over waged income, subsidize mortgages, and subsidize private sector developers.[469]

Contemporary issues[edit]

Hate crimes and terrorism[edit]

In the United States, most crimes in which victims are targeted on the basis of their race or ethnicity are considered hate crimes. (For federal law purposes, crimes in which Hispanic people are targeted because of their identity are considered hate crimes based on ethnicity.) Leading forms of bias which are cited in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program, based on law enforcement agency filings include: anti-black, anti-Jewish, anti-homosexual, and anti-Hispanic bias in that order in both 2004 and 2005.[470] According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, whites, black people, and Hispanic people had similar rates of violent hate crime victimization between 2007 and 2011.[471][472] However, from 2011 to 2012, violent hate crimes against Hispanic people increased by 300%.[473] When considering all hate crimes, not just violent ones, African Americans are far more likely to be victims than other racial groups.[474][475]

The New Century Foundation, a white nationalist organization which was founded by Jared Taylor, argues that black people are more likely to commit hate crimes than whites, and it also argues that FBI figures inflate the number of hate crimes committed by whites by counting Hispanic people as "whites".[476] Other analysts are sharply critical of the NCF's findings, referring to the mainstream criminological view that "Racial and ethnic data must be treated with caution. Existing research on crime has generally shown that racial or ethnic identity is not predictive of criminal behavior with data which has been controlled for social and economic factors."[477] NCF's methodology and statistics are further sharply criticized as flawed and deceptive by anti-racist activists Tim Wise and the Southern Poverty Law Center.[478][479]

The first post-Jim Crow era hate crime to make sensational media attention was the murder of Vincent Chin, an Asian American of Chinese descent in 1982. He was attacked by two white assailants who were recently laid off from a Detroit area auto factory job and blamed Japanese people for their individual unemployment. Chin was not of Japanese descent, but the assailants testified in the criminal court case that he "looked like a Jap", an ethnic slur that is used to describe Japanese and other Asian people, and they were angry enough to beat him to death.

Hateful views[edit]

Continuing antisemitism has remained an issue in the United States and the 2011 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America, which was released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), has found that the recent world economic recession increased the expression of some antisemitic viewpoints among Americans. Most of the people who were surveyed expressed pro-Jewish sentiments, with 64% of them agreeing that Jewish people have contributed much to U.S. social culture. Yet the polling also found that 19% of Americans answered "probably true" to the antisemitic canard that "Jews have too much control/influence on Wall Street" (see Economic antisemitism) while 15% of Americans concurred with the related statement that Jews seem "more willing to use shady practices" in business than other people do. Reflecting on the lingering antisemitism of about one in five Americans, Abraham H. Foxman, the ADL's national director, has argued, "It is disturbing that with all of the strides we have made in becoming a more tolerant society, anti-Semitic beliefs continue to hold a vice-grip on a small but not insubstantial segment of the American public."[480]

An ABC News report which was released in 2007 recounted that past ABC polls which were conducted over a period of several years have tended to find that "six percent have self-reported harboring prejudice against Jews, 27 percent have self-reported harboring prejudice against Muslims, 25 percent have self-reported harboring prejudice against Arabs," and "one in 10 have conceded harboring at least a little bit of prejudice " against Hispanic Americans. The report also stated that a full 34% of Americans reported harboring "some racist feelings" in general as a self-description.[481] An Associated Press and Yahoo News survey of 2,227 adult Americans in 2008 found that 10% of white respondents stated that "a lot" of discrimination still exists against African-Americans while 45% of white respondents stated that only "some" discrimination still exists against African Americans compared to 57% of black respondents who stated that "a lot" of discrimination still exists against African Americans. In the same poll, more whites applied positive attributes to black Americans than negative ones, with black people describing whites even more highly, but a significant minority of whites still called African Americans "irresponsible", "lazy", or other such things.[482]

In 2008, Stanford University political scientist Paul Sniderman remarked that, in the modern U.S., racism and prejudices are "a deep challenge, and it's one that Americans in general, and for that matter, political scientists, just haven't been ready to acknowledge fully."[482]

In 2017, citizens gathered in the college community of Charlottesville, Virginia to attend the Unite the Right rally. One woman was killed and dozens of other people were injured when a white supremacist drove his car into a group of counter-protesters.[483] Vice President Mike Pence condemned the violence by stating, "We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms."[484]

Social media[edit]

In contemporary times, many racist views have found a means of expression through social media.[485]

Among the popular social networks, in particular, the American platform Reddit has been defined by the Southern Poverty Law Center, one of the most prominent institutions which is dedicated to the tracing and contrasting of racism, as the "home of the most violently racist internet content."[486]

The SPLC pointed at how racist views had gained more and more traction on Reddit, which was even replacing traditionally far-right websites such as Stormfront (website) in both the quantity and frequency of its racist content.[486]

Several prominent intellectuals and publications have agreed with this view, considering Reddit a platform which is filled with hateful, racist and harassing content. So far, however, little or nothing has been done in order to address this problem.[487]

Reddit's leadership, its owners and its administrators, have all been constantly accused of condoning racism on the platform, not taking enough action in order to moderate, sanction or remove hateful content. The actions which have been undertaken by the admins have been considered insufficient, tardy or hypocritical.[488]

Reddit's former CEO, Ellen K. Pao, came out in June, 2020, speaking against Reddit's current leadership, accusing the platform's administrators and its current CEO Steve Huffman of condoning racism on the platform, even "monetizing from white supremacy."[489]

Pao herself had previously resigned from her post as Reddit's CEO, citing an abundance of racist attacks which a great number of Reddit's users subjected her to as one of the reasons for her resignation.[490]

This has led to protests against Huffman from several popular subreddits which are dedicated to contrasting racism.[491]


There is a wide plethora of societal and political suggestions to alleviate the effects of continued discrimination in the United States. For example, within universities, it has been suggested that a type of committee could respond to non-sanctionable behavior.[295]

It is also argued that there is a need for "white students and faculty to reformulate white-awareness toward a more secure identity that is not threatened by black cultural institutions and can recognize the racial non-neutrality of the institutions which whites dominate" (Brown, 334). Paired with this effort, Brown encourages the increase in minority faculty members, so the embedded white normative experience begins to fragment.[295]

Within the media, it is found that racial cues prime racial stereotypic thought. Thus, it is argued that "stereotype inconsistent cues might lead to more intentioned thought, thereby suppressing racial priming effects."[462] Social psychologists, such as Jennifer Eberhardt, have done work that indicates such priming effects subconsciously help determine attitudes and behavior toward individuals regardless of intentions. These results have been incorporated into training, for example, in some police departments.[492]

It has also been argued that more evidence-based guidance from psychologists and sociologists is needed in order for people to learn what is effective in alleviating racism.[493] Such evidence-based approaches can reveal, for example, the many psychological biases to which humans are subject, such as ingroup bias and the fundamental attribution error, which can underlie racist attitudes.[494]

Psychologist Stuart Vyse has argued that argument, ideas, and facts will not mend divisions but there is evidence, such as that which is provided by the Robbers Cave Experiment, that seeking shared goals can help alleviate racism.[495]

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]