Racism is a confounding phenomenon. Why can't we get rid of it? Racism persists in large part because of its institutional nature. The further we get from the formative years of our nation, the easier it is to forget that the fallacious concept of white superiority was intentionally infused into every American institution. In some cases, 19th century polices and practices have continued unchanged into the present. So even when people are not intentionally racist today, they often persist in implementing historical racist practices. Unless we revisit those founding practices, we may never eliminate the problem of racism. Here is just a sampling (admittedly incomplete) of historical and current examples of institutional racism in major American systems.
Ku Klux Klan and other racist group involvement
Good O’ Boys Roundup, Tennessee, 1995
Secret Service, 2008
Bull Connor, Birmingham, 1963
Shooting death of Santos Rodriguez, Dallas, 1972
Abuse of Abner Louima, NYC, 1997
Racial Profiling (New Jersey and Maryland State Police as examples)
Law Enforcement
Manifest Destiny
John Louis O’Sullivan declared in 1845 European-American western  expansion divinely       ordained, justifying genocide of Indians, slavery, expansion into the Caribbean and Pacific

Segregation of churches &  A challenge from Martin Luther King, Jr.

Curse of Ham - George Best in 1578 interpreted Genesis 9:25-27 to mean that Africans were ordained by God to be slaves - some churches still promote this teaching
The “Enlightenment” and the Classification of species
 Carl von Linne, The System of Nature, 1735
 Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, 1776
 Samuel George Morton, 1799-1851
 Formalized racist ideology with the credibility of science
 Justified economic exploitation by dehumanizing people of color
 Led to Social Darwinism, which purported that the white “race” has  superior morals

U.S. Constitution - 3/5ths compromise on slaves for representation and taxation 
Many presidents aired racist beliefs publicly 
U.S. Military - 90% of North American Indians died from European violence & disease from 1492 - 1900
Congressional restrictions
 Chinese Exclusion Act, U.S., 1882  (last railroad spike 1869)
 Japan - Gentlemen’s AgreementJapanese Internment  
 Dawes Act, 1887 - Anglicization of Indian names, resulted in the loss of large amounts of   
 Indian lands
U.S. Federal Government
People v. Hall, 1854
Chinese were not allowed to testify against Whites, thus shielding Whites from prosecution of atrocities against Chinese
Dred Scott, 1857
An enslaved person is not a citizen, but property
Botiller v. Dominguez, 1889 
Courts ruled in favor of Europeans who appropriated Mexican land
Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896 
Allowed "separate but equal" Jim Crow laws and the One-drop rule
Plantations in demand of labor justified slavery
Acceptance of slaves as collateral on loans
Sharecropping after the end of slavery
Modern colonias, maquiladoras
Low wages, dangerous, menial work, segregation

Bias toward White/European history and culture
Southern laws outlawing teaching blacks to read 
American Indian boarding schools 
  Speaking of native languages prohibited; renaming
Segregation; Unequal facilities, materials
White staff and viewpoints dominate(d)
Many American race riots were white-initiated and media fueled
Segregation, redlining, real estate practices
Inequitable municipal services
*A similar table could be created for institutional sexism, and many other institutional isms.
Elements of institutional racism*
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