Summary Objective 22

Students will examine the ways that the legacies of slavery, white supremacy and settler colonialism continue to affect life in what is now the United States. Maps to Key Concepts 2, 3, 4, 8 & 9


What else should my students know?

22.A Long traditions of African American and Indigenous resistance have shaped the United States and continue in the present, as shown by actions by the American Indian Movement, the Black Panther Party, the Black Lives Matter movement and at Standing Rock.

22.B Segregation and inequality persist in the United States. This is most evident in employment, housing and education but can also be seen in health care, workplaces, sports settings and churches.

22.C Profound economic inequalities stratify American society. African Americans and Indigenous people face many obstacles to advancement, including unequal educational opportunities, unemployment, wage disparities, barriers to home ownership and persistent wealth inequality. Well into the 20th century, elite white landowners in the West and South continued to hold Indigenous and African American people as captive laborers through systems of debt peonage and carceral labor.

22.D Mass incarceration has devastated many Native nations and communities of color. Police officers, district attorneys and judges arrest, charge and imprison African Americans at rates far exceeding white people, with lasting consequences for political and economic participation. The school-to-prison pipeline leads many Indigenous and African American students to come into contact with law enforcement at a young age after being suspended and expelled from school at rates much higher than those for white students.

22.E The legacies of settler colonialism continue in the many ways that Indigenous people are disenfranchised and disadvantaged. Many Latinx people who come to the United States are Indigenous, and they also face many of the legacies of slavery that manifest as contemporary oppression and inequity.

22.F Although race has no scientific basis, as a social construct, it has the power to profoundly affect the lived experiences of fairness, equality and opportunity for people perceived to be non-white.

22.G Legacies of seeing Indigenous women as sexual objects to be bought, used and traded echo today in the extreme numbers of Indigenous women who go missing and are murdered each year.


How can I teach this?

  • Let’s Talk: Discussing Critical Topics With Students supports educators in thinking critically about their own identities and in helping students talk about oppression and injustice in the classroom.
  • Teaching The New Jim Crow is a set of teaching tools (lessons and excerpts) for high-school students that introduces the origins of racial caste as well as the history and devastating impact of mass incarceration on communities of color.
  • The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein tells the disturbing story of how white supremacy intentionally caused and perpetuated housing segregation in the United States. Learning for Justice has a set of lessons based on the book.
  • White Rage by Carol Anderson traces the ways in which white reactions to black social and political gains undermined those gains and derailed progress for black Americans.
  • Contemporary debates about removing Confederate monuments illustrate not just the lasting legacy of white supremacy but the ways that the Civil War was reframed to erase Confederate support for slavery. “New Orleans’ Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Address on the Removal of Four Confederate Statues” is the transcript of a speech given on Friday, May 19, 2017, as a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee was to be taken down. A video from Vox shows how the United Daughters of the Confederacy worked to reshape memory of the Civil War.
  • Episode eight of Learning for Justice’s Teaching Hard History: American Slavery podcast explores strategies for using critical examination of films to teach about representations of the Civil War and Reconstruction.
  • Equity Matters: Confronting Implicit Bias is a teacher-facing webinar that includes many tools and resources that can be used with students.
  • An article from the Fall 2018 issue of Teaching Tolerance magazine explains the nature and persistence of white privilege and suggests useful resources for confronting it.
  • Episode 14 of Learning for Justice’s Teaching Hard History: American Slavery podcast makes connections to modern practices of slavery in the United States and around the world.



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