Examples of Racism                                                          

Here are a few examples of racism in the United States. What other examples can you think of?

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School Finance:    Millions of African American and Latino young people in the United States don’t get an education equal to that of most whites, partly because the urban schools they go to don’t have as much money as the schools in the white suburbs.  This is because the country has decided that much of the money for schools should come from local property taxes. So in communities where the houses and businesses are less expensive, the schools don’t get enough money to provide a high quality education.  This is unfair.  This is institutional racism.  If we financed schools differently every student, regardless of his or her "race", could go to a high quality school that was the equal of the schools other students attend.

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Wealth Created During Slavery:    From the 1600’s to 1863 slave labor by African Americans created a tremendous amount of wealth in the United States.  This wealth was all taken by white people.  When slavery was ended, the wealth that the former slaves had created was not shared with them.  The effects of this continue today because whites have been able to pass wealth down from generation to generation through inheritance. In addition, discrimination in jobs has continued to limit access to wealth for many people of color. So white people as a whole are still wealthier today than people of color because of the wealth whites took from the labor of slaves. 

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Representation in the U.S. Government:    This chart shows the approximate percentages of each group of people of color in the United States today, in Congress in 2009, and in the Presidency since the beginning of the country. Other groups are dramatically underrepresented, while whites are overrepresented.


Percentage of the U.S. Population

U.S. House of Representatives 2009

U.S. Senate 2009


1787 - 2013

African Americans





Asians and Pacific Islanders










Native Americans










*Note: President Barack Obama has both African and White ancestors. 

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Hurricane Katrina:     The government had known for years that a big hurricane was likely to cause dangerous flooding in New Orleans.  The plans they made didn’t include any way to get poor people (predominately African Americans) out of the city to safety.  When the storm and the flooding did come with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, much of the country saw on TV that thousands of people of color were stranded in the city without food, water, housing or safety.  The government was incredibly slow to rescue people, to provide food and shelter, and to help them rebuild their houses.     Many people believe that if those stranded had been mostly white people the rescue efforts would have been much quicker and effective (or those responsible for the inadequate response would have all been fired from their jobs). When money did become available to start rebuilding, the first federal contracts went to white businessmen, so that white people accumulated more wealth as a result of the disaster.

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Racial Profiling:    "A young Latino man I know has been stopped by the police many times while he was driving his car, when he had done nothing to break the law.  They stopped him for apparently no reason and asked to check his license and registration and looked inside his car.  I’m a white man.   I’ve been driving for far more years than he has and have never been stopped under those circumstances."  Studies across the country have shown that “African Americans were two to three times more likely to be pulled over and searched [while driving], yet no more likely to be engaged in any criminal activity than white Americans.” (The Covenant, 2006)

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What other examples do you know, or can you find, from your own experience, from history, from the news?

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