Racial Minorities in the US
- Native Americans are believed to have migrated to North America from Asia 10,000 to 35,000 years
prior to white settlers.
- Although they were perceived as homogenous and grouped together as “Indians,” they are a culturally
diverse group of over 500 tribes, including the Inuit (Eskimos), Cherokee, Navaho, Chippewa, and Sioux.
- As a result of diseases brought by the Europeans, forced migrations, and genocide, the 2 million native
inhabitants of North America in 1492 (the arrival of Columbus) were reduced to 240,000 by 1900.
- White settlers viewed the Native Americans as biologically and morally inferior and labeled them as
uncivilized “savages” and “heathens” in order to justify their genocide, forced migration, and forced
- White immigrants took control of Indian land through battles and bogus treaties. The treaties with the
federal government promised adequate housing, schooling, and health care—but none have been
- Entire nations were forced to moved in order to accommodate the white settlers. The “Trail of Tears”
was one of the most disastrous of the forced migrations. In the coldest part of the winter of 1832, over
half the Cherokee Nation died during or as a result of their forced relocation from the southeastern
United States to an Indian Reservation in Oklahoma.
- Life on the reservations is characterized by high rates of poverty, unemployment, suicide, alcoholism,
domestic problems, and high drop-out rates in school. About 1/3 of Native Americans live on
- The experience of African Americans has been uniquely marked by slavery, segregation, and
- Between 1619 and the 1860s, about 500,000 Africans were forcibly brought to North America,
primarily to work on southern plantations, and these actions were justified by the devaluation and
stereotyping of African Americans. Under the master-servant relationship, slaves were viewed as
children or “subhuman” and were denied access to learning/acquisition of skills.
- Slavery was abolished in 1863 (after more than 200 years) by the Emancipation Proclamation. Freed
slaves soon faced prejudice and discrimination under the Jim Crow Laws, which assured that blacks were segregated in housing, employment, education, and all public accommodations.
-African Americans who did not stay in their "place" were the victims of violent attacks and lynch mobs.
It is estimated that as many as 6,000 lynchings occurred between 1892 and 1921.
-In 1964, the Supreme Court declared in Brown v Topeka Board of Education that the "Separate but
Equal" policy was unconstitutional.
-In spite of the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, African Americans remain overrepresented in lower-
level occupations, underrepresented in political positions of power, and economically marginalized. The
African American unemployment rate remains twice as high as that of whites.
- Hispanic Americans (or Latinos/as) are the largest and fastest growing racial minority group. 70% of
Latinos are concentrated in just four states: California, Texas, New York, and Florida. They are composed
of several distinct subgroups, based on a common language, culture, and geographic area. Officially
tallied at 30 million people (perhaps more due to illegal immigrants who have avoided public officials
and census forms), Latino subgroups include Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cuban Americans.
- Mexican Americans are the largest subgroup (64%) of the Hispanic population. They were conquered
and subordinated following the d