Racial Justice
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This history of racial inequality and economic injustice in the United States has created continuing challenges for all Americans. EJI believes more must be done to advance our collective goal of equal justice for all. The United States has done very little to acknowledge the legacy of genocide, slavery, lynching, and racial segregation. As a result, people of color are marginalized, disadvantaged, and disproportionately impoverished; the criminal justice system is infected with racial bias; and a presumption of guilt and dangerousness has led to unjustified police violence against black and brown people.

To justify the brutal and dehumanizing institution of slavery in America, its advocates created a myth of racial difference that claimed white people were intellectually and morally superior to African Americans. Under this narrative, black people’s lifelong and nearly inescapable enslavement was defended as “most necessary to the well-being of the negro," instead of a crime against humanity. Slavery was justified as an act of kindness through which whites exposed their less-evolved human property to discipline, hard work, and morality. The formal abolition of slavery did nothing to overcome the harmful ideas created to defend it, and so slavery did not end with emancipation and passage of the 13th Amendment: it evolved.

In the decades that followed, these beliefs in racial hierarchy took new expression in convict leasing, lynching, and other forms of racial terrorism. This violence forced the exodus of millions of black Americans to the North and West, where the narrative of racial difference manifested in urban ghettos and generational poverty. Racial subordination was codified and enforced by violence in the era of Jim Crow and segregation, as the nation and its leaders allowed black people to be burdened, beaten, and marginalized throughout the 20th century.

Courageous activism in the 1950s and 1960s resulted in progress towards civil rights for African Americans, but the myth of racial inferiority was not eradicated. Celebrating and romanticizing the civil rights movement while downplaying the violent and powerful resistance activists faced diverted the national spotlight from the great deal of work left undone. Leading into the end of the 20th century, this left black Americans vulnerable to a new era of racial bias and abuse of power wielded by our contemporary criminal justice system. Today, the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Mass incarceration has had devastating consequences for people of color: at the dawn of the 21st century, one in three black boys, and one in six Latino boys, was projected to go to jail or prison in his lifetime.

News

"Racial bias is detestable in any context, but in our criminal justice system it is especially pernicious," the dissent wrote. 

September 23, 2016

This week's arrest of an armed terrorism suspect shows that officers can use non-lethal force.

Terence Crutcher walking away from a Tulsa police officer with his hands up, moments before she shoots and kills him.

September 21, 2016

The rate of anti-Muslim hate crimes recorded by the FBI is about five times higher today than before 2001.

Anti-Muslim graffiti defaces a Shi'ite mosque at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan. The mosque was defaced in January 2007 following a press conference about airlines’ mistreatment of Muslims returning home from a religious pilgrimage. (Bill Pugliano/Getty Images.)

September 16, 2016

More communities throughout the country are joining with EJI to participate in our Lynching Marker Project.

September 12, 2016
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The myth of racial difference that was created to sustain American slavery persists today. Slavery did not end in 1865, it evolved. #SlaveryEvolved
The US has the world’s highest incarceration rate, with nearly a third of young black men under some form of criminal justice control.
EJI challenges poverty and racial injustice, advocates for equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and creates hope for marginalized communities.
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We are collecting soil from lynching sites and creating a memorial that recognizes lynching victims and bears witness to our history of racial terror.
EJI documented more than 4000 terror lynchings between the Civil War and World War II.
An elaborate mythology about the inferiority of black people was created to justify slavery in America, and it persists today.