Nearly 250 years after its founding, the United States of America has transformed from a fledgling band of rogue British colonies into the world’s foremost political and economic superpower. With that success, however, came the near-eradication of indigenous Americans, the enslavement and disenfranchisement of Africans and their descendents, the exclusion of women from public life, longstanding discrimination against targeted immigrant groups, and the criminalization of sexual minorities. Over the last century, one of the world’s most multicultural countries has been engaged in the long, difficult process of dismantling the structures of disempowerment that have permeated American social, political, and economic life.
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