Civil rights and racial equity

The fight for civil rights and racial equity is at the heart of everything we do. As we dismantle racism, we’re committed to showing all Americans what structural racism is and what we can all do to end it.

Understand racism to dismantle it.

Racism impacts all parts of our lives, and once we confront that and understand it, we can end it.

We’re living in a moment when more Americans are realizing what people of color experience every day: that structural racism creates barriers in all areas of life: where we live, our health, our access to good jobs, and how authorities treat us.

But racism is so embedded into our systems that it isn’t always so easy to see, and it gives Latinos a separate and unequal experience in the United States. At the same time, the Latino perspective has gone largely missing from ongoing public discussions on civil rights and racial equity.

We believe that the hard and necessary work to undo centuries of discrimination, deep racism, and the culture of white supremacy will require reconciliation, unity, leadership, and action by all Americans. For us, this includes presenting an accurate understanding of the contributions of the Hispanic community and the systemic barriers they face, as the first step to make our country’s shared vision of equal opportunity for all a reality.

Did you know...



Schools with 90% or more students of color spend $733 less per student every year than schools with mostly white students.


Percentage of Latinos who were uninsured in 2021, twice the proportion of non-Hispanic whites.


In 2019, the average Latino family had about $36,000 in wealth, compared to white families having $189,000, a difference of $153,000.


Latinos are almost twice as likely (1.7 times or 170%) to be killed by police than a white person.

Racist immigration laws

Activist and writer Julissa Arce examines how race—more than national security or economic concerns—has historically dictated immigration policy in the U.S.

Impact on health

Our community deserves access to good quality health care. But the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened disparities that already existed.

Child wearing a medical mask to prevent spread of virus is getting a heart screening with stethoscope placed on chest.

Demanding change

Our blog chronicles Latinos’ pursuit of racial equity, and how racism affects us every day.

Explaining systemic racism against Latinos

We explain the issues Latinos have faced over our 180-plus year history in the U.S., and some alarming ways our country’s major systems affect our community.

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How to end structural racism

Frequently Asked Questions
What is structural racism?

Structural racism (also called systemic or institutional racism) in the United States is the normalization and legitimization of dynamics like historical, cultural, and interpersonal, that advantage white people while creating disadvantages for people of color.

What is racial equity?

Racial equity is achieved when a person is no more or less likely to experience society’s benefits or burdens based on their race or national origin, a “level playing field.”

What can I do about structural racism?

It begins with making sure everyone understands what we’re talking about when we talk about racism. You can:

  • Make sure Latino voices are included in the demand for racial justice.
  • Ensure that schools teach Hispanic history to show that our roots run deep in this country, and to show how racism affects us.
  • Continue learning more about structural racism and tells others about the link between racism and the barriers Latinos face.

How structural racism affects Latinos

In depth

Criminal justice and systemic racism

  • Latinos experience racial profiling, are arrested more often, and have harsher sentences than the average white person.
  • Latinos are almost twice as likely (1.7 times) to be killed by police than a white person.
  • Police violence against Latinos is part of American history. Just over 100 years ago, Texas Rangers killed thousands of Latinos and drove many more into Mexico.
  • In 1918, Texas Rangers and the U.S. Army killed 15 unarmed Mexican men and boys in Porvenir, Texas, and burned the town to the ground, claiming the village was full of thieves.
  • The War on Drugs put more police in low-income communities of color, and putting more Black and Latino people in prison, but didn’t lower crime.

Education and systemic racism

  • Schools were desegregated more than 50 years ago, but Latino students still face barriers that make it harder to succeed.
  • Mendez v. Westminster ended school segregation in California and was led by Latinos, paving the way for Brown v. Board of Education—but the system found a new way to discriminate.
  • Today, where a student lives can determine the quality of education they get. Schools with mostly students of color get far less funding and fewer resources than other schools.
  • Research has found that schools with 90% or more students of color spend $733 less per student each year than schools with a mostly white student population.

Jobs and the economy

  • The job market in the United States is built on segregation, and it continues today with a system that devalues the work of people of color.
  • The New Deal was supposed to save Americans from the Great Depression, but excluded most Black and Brown people. Today, Latinos are more likely to work than whites, but are more likely in low-paying jobs.
  • The New Deal brought the 40-hour workweek, a federal minimum wage, and overtime protection. But Latinos are often excluded from these benefits because they don’t apply to domestic, agricultural, or service jobs.
  • Latinos are the least likely to have paid sick days, and are forced to choose between getting paid and caring for themselves or a sick family member.

Healthcare in the Latino community

  • Latinos are the least likely to have any form of health coverage, partly because having health insurance usually depends on your job, and many Latinos are in jobs that don’t offer insurance.
  • Before COVID-19, nearly 19% of Latinos had no insurance, compared to 6.3% of whites. During the pandemic, it’s only gotten worse.
  • Until recently, bilingual health care services weren’t guaranteed, leaving behind 16 million Latinos who don’t speak English very well.
  • Latinos are more likely to have certain chronic health conditions, including diabetes and obesity, because of a lack of health care and because of factors that determine your health, like where you live.

Housing and systemic racism

  • Where you live can determine the quality of your education, wealth, and even health. But affordable housing and buying a home are especially difficult goals for Latinos to attain.
  • The government made it easier to buy a home and made renting more affordable in the 20th century, but Latinos were excluded and segregated instead.
  • What is redlining? Refusing to invest in a person or a community because of where they live, usually a low-income community of color.

Latino immigration

  • Until the 1970s, most immigrants in the U.S. came from Europe. As more people came from Africa and Latin America, immigration enforcement got tougher and crueler.
  • Legal immigration from Mexico was cut in half, and in 1976 immigration enforcement began deporting the parents of children born in the U.S.
  • In 1986, it became illegal to hire an undocumented person leading to discrimination against Latinos and anyone who looked “foreign” to employers.
  • When most immigrants were white, there were no restrictions on Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid for undocumented people.

Voting rights

  • Latinos and other people of color are routinely discriminated against in the voting process, and have been through the country’s history.
  • Deliberate barriers like forcing people to pay to vote, and passing English literacy tests, have kept large numbers of eligible Black and Latino people from voting.
  • The Voting Rights Act was an important win for Black voters, but didn’t include Latinos until 10 years later.

Learn more about our work for racial justice

Featured Resources

UnidosUS along with partner Berkeley Media Studies Group studied how—and how often—Latinos appeared in racial equity news, both as news creators and as sources. This report covers the findings and recommendations for more complete coverage.

March 15, 2023

MediaNewsRacial Equityracismand 1 more tag

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