Racism and ethnic discrimination in the United States has been a major issue since the colonial era and the slave era. Legally sanctioned racism imposed a heavy burden on Native Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latin Americans. European Americans (particularly Anglo Americans) were privileged by law in matters of literacy, immigration, voting rights, citizenship, land acquisition, and criminal procedure over periods of time extending from the 17th century to the 1960s. Many non-Protestant European immigrant groups, particularly Jews, Irish people, Poles and Italians among others, suffered xenophobic exclusion and other forms of discrimination in American society.
Major racially and ethnically structured institutions included slavery, Indian Wars, Native American reservations, segregation, residential schools for Native Americans, and internment camps. Formal racial discrimination was largely banned in the mid-20th century, and came to be perceived as socially unacceptable and/or morally repugnant as well, yet racial politics remain a major phenomenon. Historical racism continues to be reflected in socioeconomic inequality, and has taken on more modern, indirect forms of expression, most prevalently symbolic racism. Racial stratification continues to occur in employment, housing, education, lending, and government.
Many people in the U.S. continue to have some prejudices against other races, with a full third of Americans self-labeling as having "racist feelings" according to one survey. In the view of the U.S. Human Rights Network, a network of scores of US civil rights and human rights organizations, "Discrimination permeates all aspects of life in the United States, and extends to all communities of color". Discrimination against African Americans, Latin Americans, and Muslims is widely acknowledged. Members of every major American ethnic minority have perceived racism in their dealings with other minority groups.