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

Two police officers in full riot gear arrest a Black man during a breakout of rioting and looting on the West side of Detroit, Michigan, July 23, 1967.

The Detroit Rebellion

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.
Smoke billowing over Tulsa, Oklahoma during 1921 race riots

The Devastation of Black Wall Street

Tulsa, Oklahoma. 1921. A wave of racial violence destroys an affluent African-American community, seen as a threat to white-dominated American capitalism.

The Mob Violence of the Red Summer

In 1919, a brutal outburst of mob violence was directed against African Americans across the United States. White, uniformed servicemen led the charge.
Draft riots

Race and Labor in the 1863 New York City Draft Riots

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.
Watts

Did The 1965 Watts Riots Change Anything?

Sociological data from immediately after the riots in Watts, Los Angeles, in 1965 show major disparities in attitude by race.
1800s Chicago police

A History of Police Violence in Chicago

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.
Memphis bridge

The People’s Grocery Lynching, Memphis, Tennessee

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.
African-American students at North Carolina A&T College participate in a sit-in at a F. W. Woolworth's lunch counter reserved for white customers in Greensboro, North Carolina. (Copyright Bettmann/Corbis / AP Images)

How the Body Can Shape Social Protest

By using the body to resist and respond to violence and social injustice, protesters literally embody their cause.
Dr. Ossian Sweet
Courtesy of the Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library
http://digitalcollections.detroitpubliclibrary.org/islandora/object/islandora%3A143138

Dr. Ossian Sweet’s Black Life Mattered

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.
Student in a Black Studies class in a west side Chicago classroom, 1973

African American Studies: Foundations and Key Concepts

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

Philando Castile shooting video

Viral Black Death: Why We Must Watch Citizen Videos of Police Violence

We should acknowledge and absorb the pain captured in videos of police violence, just as antiracist activists bore witness in the past to lynchings.
Philando Castile shooting video

How Do I (Not) Look? Live Feed Video and Viral Black Death

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.
Rodney King video

Why Didn’t the Rodney King Video Lead to a Conviction?

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

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

How Black Artists Fought Exclusion in Museums

When the Metropolitan Museum of Art excluded artworks from a major exhibition all about Harlem, Black artists protested the erasure.
A woman speaking on the phone

Calling the Police, without Trusting the Police

A scholar finds nuanced reasoning among poor Black women facing difficult choices about whether to call the cops.
James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni on SOUL!, 1971

James Baldwin and Nikki Giovanni in Conversation

In 1971, two legends of Black letters discussed Black manhood, white racism, the role of the writer, and the responsibility to teach.
Two boys share candy on a New York street, circa 1925

How Residential Segregation Looked in the South

A longstanding idea about southern segregation is that it was more "intimate" than its northern counterpart. What's the truth?
A gas flare from the Shell Chemical LP petroleum refinery illuminates the sky on August 21, 2019 in Norco, Louisiana

Environmental Racism and the Coronavirus Pandemic

COVID-19 is disproportionately deadly among people of color. Long-term environmental racism could be a major factor in this disparity.
Pile of textbooks on a desk

The Racism of History Textbooks

How history textbooks reinforced narratives of racism, and the fight to change those books from the 1940s to the present.
school suspensions and the racial discipline gap

School Suspensions and the Racial Discipline Gap

The racial discipline gap in school suspensions has lasting educational and social effects.

How Segregation Hurts Kids

Educational segregation hurts all kids, white, black, and Hispanic.

Why Racism Is Terrible for Everyone’s Health

Heather Gilligan explores the impact of racism on the fight towards universal health care.
Charles Drew sitting with medical residents at Freedmen's Hospital

The 1910 Report That Disadvantaged Minority Doctors

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.
People wait in line to enter a supermarket which has limited the number of shoppers due to the coronavirus on April 10, 2020 in Brooklyn, NY

COVID-19 Is Hitting Black and Poor Communities the Hardest

The viral pandemic is underscoring fault lines in access to care for those on margins.

The Lasting Fallout of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

A recent paper provides evidence that the Tuskegee Syphilis Study reduced the life expectancy of African-American men.

The Latent Racism of the Better Homes in America Program

How Better Homes in America—a collaboration between Herbert Hoover and the editor of a conservative women’s magazine—promoted idealized whiteness.
African American life insurance

How Insurance Companies Used Bad Science to Discriminate

In 1881, Prudential announced that insurance policies held by black adults would be worth one-third less than the same plans held by whites.
Source: Unsplash

How Natural Black Hair at Work Became a Civil Rights Issue

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.
Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates testifies during a hearing on slavery reparations held by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties on June 19, 2019.

The Case for Reparations Is Nothing New

In fact, Black activists and civil rights leaders have been advocating for compensation for the trauma and cost of slavery for centuries.
Arlington Confederate Monument

The History of the History of American Slavery

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.
Project Implicit Racial Prejudice

Project Implicit Reveals Your Hidden Prejudice

Professor Anthony Greenwald invented the Implicit Association Test that can tap into our implicit feelings about race. What happens when people take it?
James Baldwin

Why James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time Still Matters

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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Resources

JSTOR is a digital library for scholars, researchers, and students. JSTOR Daily readers can access the original research behind our articles for free on JSTOR.

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