The United States has seen escalating protests over the past week, following the death of George Floyd while in custody of the Minneapolis police. Educators everywhere are asking how can we help students understand that this was not an isolated, tragic incident perpetrated by a few bad individuals, but part of a broader pattern of institutionalized racism. Institutional racism—a term coined by Stokely Carmichael (later known as Kwame Ture) and Charles V. Hamilton in their 1967 book Black Power: The Politics of Liberation in America—is what connects George Floyd and Breonna Taylor with Ahmaud Arbery, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Emmett Till, and the thousands of other people who have been killed because they were “black in America.”
This context seems vital for discussions both inside and outside the classroom. The following articles, published over the course of JSTOR Daily’s five years try to provide such context. As always, the underlying scholarship is free for all readers. We have now updated this story with tagging for easier navigation to related content, will be continually updating this page with more stories, and are working to acquire a bibliographic reading list about institutionalized racism in the near future. (Note: Some readers may find some of the stories in this syllabus or the photos used to illustrate them disturbing. Teachers may wish to use caution in assigning them to students.)
Racial (In)Justice: Putting Protest into Perspective
July 9, 2020
From 1964 to 1972, at least 300 U.S. cities faced violent upheavals, the biggest led by the League of Revolutionary Black Workers, in Detroit.
July 5, 2017
Tulsa, Oklahoma. 1921. A wave of racial violence destroys an affluent African-American community, seen as a threat to white-dominated American capitalism.
May 14, 2019
In 1919, a brutal outburst of mob violence was directed against African Americans across the United States. White, uniformed servicemen led the charge.
May 4, 2017
In July 1863, over a thousand Irish dockworkers rioted against the Civil War draft in New York City in a four-day upheaval, targeting black workers and citizens.
July 13, 2016
Sociological data from immediately after the riots in Watts, Los Angeles, in 1965 show major disparities in attitude by race.
October 3, 2018
At the turn of the century, Chicago police killed 307 people, one in eighteen homicides in the city—three times the body count of local gangsters.
January 24, 2018
On March 2, 1892, in Memphis, Tennessee, a racially charged mob grew out of a fight between a black and a white youth near People’s Grocery.
December 30, 2015
By using the body to resist and respond to violence and social injustice, protesters literally embody their cause.
June 17, 2015
It has been 90 years since Ossian Sweet tried to move into his new home; since police stood by and did nothing as a mob threw rocks.
June 20, 2019
This non-exhaustive list of readings in African American Studies highlights the vibrant history of the discipline and introduces the field.
Video Documentation & Police Brutality: Ethical Considerations
September 1, 2016
We should acknowledge and absorb the pain captured in videos of police violence, just as antiracist activists bore witness in the past to lynchings.
July 20, 2016
When we have the choice to look, we are bound ethically and politically to what we witness and what we do with what we have seen.
February 28, 2018
The grainy pictures speak for themselves. Or so thought many Americans who watched the video of the March 3rd, 1991, beating of motorist Rodney King by Los Angeles police officers.
Racial, Economic, and Educational Disparities Go Hand in Hand
July 6, 2020
When the Metropolitan Museum of Art excluded artworks from a major exhibition all about Harlem, Black artists protested the erasure.
June 13, 2020
A scholar finds nuanced reasoning among poor Black women facing difficult choices about whether to call the cops.
June 12, 2020
In 1971, two legends of Black letters discussed Black manhood, white racism, the role of the writer, and the responsibility to teach.
July 10, 2020
A longstanding idea about southern segregation is that it was more "intimate" than its northern counterpart. What's the truth?
August 11, 2020
COVID-19 is disproportionately deadly among people of color. Long-term environmental racism could be a major factor in this disparity.
October 20, 2015
How history textbooks reinforced narratives of racism, and the fight to change those books from the 1940s to the present.
September 2, 2015
The racial discipline gap in school suspensions has lasting educational and social effects.
August 31, 2015
Educational segregation hurts all kids, white, black, and Hispanic.
October 21, 2015
Heather Gilligan explores the impact of racism on the fight towards universal health care.
May 3, 2019
A century ago, the Flexner Report led to the closure of 75% of U.S. medical schools. It still explains a lot about today’s unequal access to healthcare.
April 14, 2020
The viral pandemic is underscoring fault lines in access to care for those on margins.
June 20, 2016
A recent paper provides evidence that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study reduced the life expectancy of African-American men.
February 26, 2020
How Better Homes in America—a collaboration between Herbert Hoover and the editor of a conservative women’s magazine—promoted idealized whiteness.
September 17, 2018
In 1881, Prudential announced that insurance policies held by black adults would be worth one-third less than the same plans held by whites.
July 3, 2019
On the 55th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, U.S. courts are still divided about African Americans’ right to wear their natural hair in the workplace.
February 27, 2020
In fact, Black activists and civil rights leaders have been advocating for compensation for the trauma and cost of slavery for centuries.
November 30, 2017
In an age when the White House is being asked if slavery was a good or bad thing, perhaps we should take a look at the history of the history of slavery.
November 25, 2014
Professor Anthony Greenwald invented the Implicit Association Test that can tap into our implicit feelings about race. What happens when people take it?
November 2, 2016
For James Baldwin (1924-1987), the fundamental premises of American society needed revisiting. How we might view #BlackLivesMatter through his lens.
Editor’s notes: We welcome reader comments: get in touch with comments, pitch us, or offer recommendations for further coverage here. Submission guidelines (we pay all our writers) here. These articles are just a small selection of the work we publish on JSTOR Daily. We’ve added tags on this article to help you find your way to related content, but are in the process of reviewing our tagging structure so these may change. We encourage you to sign up for our newsletter to get a digest of stories each week. Note: This story was updated June 4 with additional stories and tags for navigation to other related content. Thanks to reader comments, the introduction was updated June 3 with Breonna Taylor and Sandra Bland’s names and the phrase “people of color” was changed to “people.”
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The Journal of Negro Education, Vol. 38, No. 2 (Spring, 1969), pp. 162-164
Journal of Negro Education
Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, Vol. 1, No. 2, Race and Coalition (Spring, 2008), pp. 171-188
Indiana University Press
Social Work, Vol. 19, No. 2 (MARCH 1974), pp. 218-225
Oxford University Press