Social Opression

The relationship of dominance and subordination that is socially
supported between categories of people in which one benefits from the systematic
mistreatment, exploitation, and injustice directed toward the other.


The Negro Motorist Green Book, listed businesses that would accept African American customers.

One of Jim Crow's main goals was to keep African-Americans and whites separate and restrict interaction in order to reinforce the notion of African-American inferiority. With laws in place and further reinforcement through social customs they were kept separate in both public and private locations. These places included restrooms, water fountains, waiting rooms, hospitals, prisons, churches, cemeteries, movie theaters, restaurants, transportation, parks, libraries, and public events such as county fairs. The resources and spaces that were allocated to African-Americans were substandard to what white’s had available. In some instances there were no facilities available for African-Americans.

Jim Crow laws mandated residential segregation, and African-Americans were relegated to the worst parts of town. Roads stopped at the border of many African-American neighborhoods, shifting from pavement to dirt. Water, sewer systems, and other public services that supported the white areas of town frequently did not extend to the black areas.

“African Americans have been the subject of racialized and discursive discourse that has socially constructed them as criminals and amoral human beings, which challenges their humanity and their right to a legitimate social and racial identity. Such racialized discourse has its roots in slavery, was reproduced during the Jim Crow era, and is maintained today through systemic racism to keep them from having a healthy identity, one that the world can appreciate and respect.” - African Americans’ Social & Racial Identity Under Attack

Comparison between African-American and White Schoolrooms in the 1930's.
African-American schools were overcrowded, with too many students per teacher. More black schools than white had only one teacher to handle students from toddlers to 8th graders. Black schools were more likely to have all grades together in one room.

"It shall also be the duty of said board of education to make arrangements for the instruction of the children of the white and colored races in separate schools. They shall, as far as practicable, provide the same facilities for both races in respect to attainments and abilities of teachers but the children of the white and colored races shall not be taught together in any common or public school ..." - Georgia, 1919


Despite discrimination in employment, housing, education, public benefits even successful people of color continue to face disparities. Still, separate translates to unequal even for the most successful black and Hispanic minorities who are are more likely to live in poorer neighborhoods than white people who have comparable incomes.

Income is not the main factor when it comes to segregation, on average, African-American and Hispanic households live in neighborhoods with more than one and a half times the poverty rate of neighborhoods where the average white lives. Neighborhood poverty is associated with inequalities in jobs, public schools, safety, environmental quality, lack of grocery stores, hospitals and public health.

Source: US2010 Project

According to the National Association for Advancement for Colored People, “The promise of a quality education is an important civil and human right that has yet to be fully realized in the American public education system. African Americans are more likely to attend high-poverty schools, that is, public schools where more than 75 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and are less likely to graduate from high school. They subsequently attend college at rates lower than any other racial group.”

Almost 40% of African American and Hispanic students attend schools where more than 90% of students are nonwhite. The average white student attends a school where 77% of his or her peers are also white. Schools today are “as segregated as they were in the 1960s before busing began.”

AJ+ Explores America's racial divide in our public schools.

African-American and Hispanic children are more likely to attend underfunded schools than white students. One study showed for every 10% increase in students of color, the school loses $75 for every student that they have. On average, schools invest $334 more on white students than they do on non-white students. Lack of resources in these underfunded public schools causes inadequate counseling and school-based police officers are relied upon to enforce schools policies.

National Per Pupil Spending Shortfalls for Students of Color

Today No Reform Reform Percent Improvement
Shortfall in national per pupi spending on non-white students $334 $347 $192 45%
Shortfall in per pupil spending in schools serving 90 percent non-white students compared to all other schools $293 $305 $72 76%
Shortfall in per pupil spending in schools serving 90 percent non-white students compared to 90 percent white schools $733 $762 $485 36%
A 10 percent point increase in students of color at a school is associated with a decrease in per pupil spending of ... $75 $78 $51 35%

One policy that is particularly harmful to students of color is the zero-tolerance policy. This policy criminalize minor infractions of school rules and pushes a large number of kids into the juvenile and criminal justice systems where they face adult consequences instead of getting the support they need from school counselors and their communities. While black students represent 16% of student enrollment, they represent 27% of students referred to law enforcement and 31% of students subjected to a school-related arrest. In comparison, white students represent 51% of enrollment, 41% of students referred to law enforcement, and 39% of those arrested. Many of these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect.

Source: U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

How Can I Help?

Children who have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and would benefit from additional educational and counseling services are being sent to juvenile and criminal justice systems instead of getting the help they need.