Overview and Timeline

The history of the United States is usually taught in school from the perspective of the dominant culture (that is, from a colonizer’s perspective). The typical story about race in the U.S. lays out some of the struggles, but without fully explaining the causes – particularly the racist policies and actions of the U.S. government. These include the genocide of Native Americans and the continued breaking of numerous treaties with Native American nations; internment of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II (though not German Americans), constitutional encoding of enslavement of Africans and others until the passage of the 13th Amendment, the post 13th Amendment imposition of Jim Crow and Sundown laws, and racial profiling of Latinos and African Americans and other people of color that continues today. The typical historical story also does not acknowledge the impact of these policies and laws today, specifically in how communities of color fare in basic areas such as education, housing, etc. Knowing our history is a critical component for understanding racial inequities and structural racism. This section provides timelines from several sources acknowledging key events and decisions in the history of racism.

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