According to Oxford Languages, racism is defined as “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people on the basis of their membership in a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized.”
Unfortunately, racism is rooted throughout the United States’ history. Since its colonial years, this country’s laws, practices, attitudes, and actions have discriminated against various groups based on their race or ethnicity. Throughout American history, white European Americans, primarily Anglo-Saxon Protestants, have had education, voting rights, land acquisition, immigration, and criminal procedure privileges and rights denied to others. Racism is also a persistent issue in many other nations worldwide, with India, Palestine, and Libya among the most racist.
Historical examples of racism in the United States include the genocides, massacres, and forced removal of Native Americans. African Americans were enslaved until 1865 and continually faced violence and political, social, and economic freedoms for many years after, even in the present day. Middle Eastern groups, such as Muslims, Arabs, and Jews, face discrimination, particularly for their religious beliefs.
While formal discrimination has been banned over time, racism is still present across the United States. Systemic racism is one of the most important issues facing Americans today. Systemic racism, also known as institutional racism, is racism embedded as a normal practice within society. Racism continues to be reflected in socioeconomic inequality, housing, health care, education, college admissions, politics, and the criminal justice system, among other aspects of society.
According to a 2019 Pew Research Survey, about 8 out of 10 respondents say that Americans have not done enough to give Black people equal rights as white people. The majority of white, Black, and Hispanic Americans have negative views of the state of race relations in the U.S., saying that race relations are bad and may be getting worse. Additionally, about 59% of adults believe being white helps a person get ahead in our country these days.
Least Racist States
As the United States thinks about how it can improve race relations in the future, it’s crucial to look at what the country has achieved so far. Below are the ten states that have made the most racial progress in the U.S. from Wallethub. The data measures the gaps between Black and white people across 21 key indicators for equality and integration, including voter turnout and standardized test scores, in four categories:
- Employment & Wealth
- Social & Civic Engagement
1. New Mexico
New Mexico’s overall racial integration score is 75.62. The state ranks first for Employment & Wealth and second for Social & Civic Engagement. New Mexico came in fourth for the lowest median annual income gap, the lowest poverty rate gap, and the lowest standardized-test scores gap. Additionally, it came in third for the lowest gap int eh percentage of adults (25 years old and over) with at least a Bachelor’s degree.
Hawaii has the second-highest racial integration with a score of 75.12. It ranks second for Employment & Wealth and first for Social & Civic Engagement. Hawaii ranks first among all states for the lowest median annual income gap, the lowest labor-force participation rate gap, and the lowest poverty rate gap.
Wyoming’s overall score is 74.78, ranking first for Education and third for Social & Civic Engagement. Wyoming has the second-lowest poverty rate gap and the fifth-lowest gap in the percentage of adults with at least a Bachelor’s degree.
Texas ranks fourth overall for racial integration, with a score of 74.51. Texas ranks fourth for Employment & Wealth, fifth for Education, and seventh for Health. Texas’s poverty rate gap is the third-lowest in the U.S. and was tied for having the lowest voter turnout gap in the 2016 Presidential Election. Texas also is tied for the lowest gap in the percentage of adults (25 years old and over) with at least a high school diploma.
West Virginia’s total score is 73.98, ranking second for Education and Health. West Virginia has the second-lowest standardized-test scores in the U.S.
Arizona comes in sixth with a score of 73.03. Arizona ranks third for Employment & Wealth and eighth for Education. Under Employment & Wealth, Arizona has the second-lowest median annual income gap and the fourth-lowest labor-force participation rate gap. Under Education, Arizona is tied for the lowest gap in the percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma.
Kentucky’s total score for racial integration is 72.28. Kentucky ranks sixth in Education and ninth for Health. Kentucky is tied for first, with Hawaii for the lowest labor-force participation rate gap. Additionally, Kentucky is tied for first for both the lowest voter turnout gap in the 2016 Presidential Election and the lowest gap in the percentage of adults with at least a high school diploma.
Montana is ranked eighth for racial integration with a 70.21 score. Montana ranks seventh for Education and fifth for Social & Civic Engagement. Montana’s median annual income gap is the third-lowest among all states, and its gap in the percentage of adults with at least a Bachelor’s is the fourth-lowest.
Maryland’s racial integration score is 70.19, ranking sixth for Employment & Wealth and tenth for Social & Civic Engagement. Maryland has the fifth-lowest poverty rate gap.
Colorado is the tenth-most racially integrated state, with a score of 70.18. Colorado ranks ninth for Employment & Wealth and sixth for Social & Civic Engagement. In the 2016 presidential election, Colorado tied for first for the lowest voter turnout gap. Colorado’s all mail-in voting system likely contributed to this.