One of the first laws passed by the new U.S. Congress in 1790 declared that “only white people” would be allowed to become citizens. This “social contract,” legitimizing the new nation’s white people, lasted until 1952. All people of color were deemed illegitimate – less than – “minorities.” Even after people of color organized in a massive movement for civil rights in the mid-20th century, institutions that were created during legalized white supremacy have continued to be systemically biased in favor of white people. Racial disparities in education, criminal justice, foster care, health and wealth result from this structured institutional racism.
Laws related to citizens’ rights passed from the early 17th century to the late 20th century had the effect of affirming white people’s rights – as a collective - to life, liberty, property . Whiteness is a “propertied right;” laws give it currency. They allow white people as a collective to build wealth and maintain power.