Explore Different Rules for Whites
For centuries, whites have benefited from exclusionary laws and
policies, while other groups were barred from citizenship, denied
opportunities, and restricted from full participation in American
||Naturalization reserved for whites
||The 1790 Naturalization Act reserves
naturalized citizenship for whites only. African Americans
are not guaranteed citizenship until 1868, when the Fourteenth
Amendment to the Constitution is ratified in the wake of Reconstruction.
Groups of Native Americans become citizens through individual
treaties or intermarriage and finally, through the 1924 Indian
Citizenship Act. Asian immigrants are ineligible to citizenship
until the 1954 McCarran-Walter Act removes all racial barriers
to naturalization. Without citizenship, nonwhites are denied
the right to vote, own property, bring suit, testify in court
- all the basic protections and entitlements that white citizens
take for granted.
||Indians dispossessed of lands
||Throughout the 19th century, American Indian
lands are taken away and given to white settlers. The 1830
Indian Removal Act forcibly relocates thousands of Indians
from east of the Mississippi River to Oklahoma. Many die en
route. The 1862 Homestead Act encourages a flood of squatters
to invade Indian lands in the midwest. Already suffering from
decimation of the buffalo, nomadic Plains Indian tribes are
forced to relocate to government reservations. The 1887 Dawes
Act breaks up collectively owned Indian lands and redistributes
it to individuals, allowing "surplus" land to be sold to whites.
Lewis Cass, Secretary of War under President Jackson, sums
up 19th-century Indian policy this way: "The Indians are entitled
to the enjoyment of all the rights which do not interfere
with the obvious designs of Providence."
||Nonwhites barred from testifying
||In People v. Hall, the California Supreme Court
reverses the conviction of a white man in a murder trial,
ruling that the testimony of key Chinese witnesses is inadmissible
because "no Black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be allowed
to give evidence in favor of, or against a white man." Chief
Justice Charles J. Murray remarks that the Chinese are "a
race of people whom nature has marked as inferior....The same
rule which would admit them to testify, would admit them to
all the equal rights of citizenship, and we might soon see
them at the polls, in the jury box, upon the bench, and in
our legislative halls. This is not a speculation...but an
actual and present danger."
||African Americans denied citizenship
||In the Dred Scott decision, the U.S. Supreme
Court upholds the Fugitive Slave Act and declares that "Negroes,"
whether free or enslaved, are not citizens. As Chief Justice
Taney puts it, they have "no rights which any white man is
bound to respect." Free Black people are taxed like whites,
but they do not enjoy the same protection and entitlements.
African Americans are not granted citizenship until the Fourteenth
Amendment is ratified in 1868. In the meantime, the wealth
of centuries of slavery accrues exclusively to whites. When
slaves in Washington, D.C., are freed in 1862, the only reparation
paid is not to slaves but to slaveowners for loss of their
||Jim Crow segregation begins
||Beginning in the late 19th century, southern
states codify a system of laws and practices to subordinate
African Americans to whites. The "new" social order, reinforced
through violence and intimidation, affects schools, public
transportation, jobs, housing, private life and voting rights.
Cutting across class boundaries, Jim Crow unites poor and
wealthy whites in a campaign of aggression and social control,
while denying African Americans equality in the courts, freedom
of assembly and movement, and full participation as citizens.
The federal government adopts segregation under President
Wilson in 1913, and is not integrated until the 1960s.
||Alien land laws discriminate against Asians
||California passes the first alien land law,
prohibiting "aliens ineligible to citizenship" from owning
or leasing land. Although the language isn't explicitly racial,
the law only applies to Asian immigrants and it gives white
farmers an unfair advantage by keeping Japanese and other
competitors out. Loopholes in the law allow Japanese to continue
farming until a 1920 ballot initiative bars them from leasing
land altogether. Arizona passes a similar law in 1917, followed
by Washington and Louisiana in 1921, and nine other states
by 1950. California's alien land laws are rescinded in 1956.
Wyoming and Kansas finally repeal their statutes in 2001 and
2002, while two states, Florida and New Mexico, still have
alien land laws written into their state constitution.
||Immigation quotas favor "Nordics"
||The 1924 Johnson-Reed Act overhauls U.S. immigration
and creates the first quota system based upon national origin.
The act favors immigrants from northern and western Europe
over "the inferior races" of Asia and southern and eastern
Europe. Following the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1917
Asiatic Barred Zone Act, the Quota Act of 1921, and other
exclusionary measures, the act represents the culmination
of several decades of racialized, anti-immigration sentiment
and policy. This explicit preference system continues to shape
American demographics and immigration policy until the 1960s.
||U.S. housing programs benefit whites only
||Beginning in the 1930s and 1940s, the federal
government creates programs that subsidize low-cost loans,
opening up home ownership to millions of Americans for the
first time. Government underwriters also introduce a national
appraisal system tying property value and loan eligibility
to race, inventing "redlining," and effectively locking nonwhites
out of homebuying just as many white Americans are getting
in. The growth of restricted suburbs, especially after World
War II, helps European "ethnics" blend together as whites,
while minorities are "marked" by urban poverty. Discriminatory
policies and practices help create two legacies that are still
with us today: segregated communities and a substantial wealth
gap between whites and nonwhites.
||Minorities denied social security and union
||In 1935, Congress passes two laws that protect
American workers and exclude nonwhites. The Social Security
Act exempts agricultural workers and domestic servants (predominantly
African American, Mexican, and Asian) from receiving old-age
insurance, while the Wagner Act, guaranteeing workers' rights,
does not prohibit unions from discriminating against nonwhites.
Nonwhites are locked out of higher-paying jobs and union benefits
such as medical care, job security, and pensions. As low-income
workers, minorities have the greatest need for these provisions,
yet they are systematically denied what most Americans take
||Black-white wealth gap
||Centuries of inequality are not remedied overnight,
and colorblind policies only perpetuate disparities. Today,
the average white family has eight times the wealth of the
average nonwhite family. Even at the same income level, whites
have, on average, two to three times as much wealth. Whites
are more likely to be segregated than any other group, and
86% of suburban whites still live in places with a Black population
of less than 1%. Today, 71% of whites own their own home,
compared to 44% of African Americans. Black and Latino mortgage
applicants are 60% more likely than whites to be turned down
for loans, even after controlling for employment, financial,
and neighborhood characteristics.