The United States is often thought of as a liberal democracy, an open society or meritocracy, in which an individual is free to pursue his or her dream unfettered by artificial barriers or types of discrimination. As the “land of opportunity,” this society is viewed positively as one of the world’s greatest industrial democracies. The reality, of course, is rather different: while limited minority progress has been made during recent decades, the continuing impact of race, ethnicity, gender, class and other dimensions of inequality is clearly evident in differential poverty and incarceration levels. Enduring signs of stereotyping and prejudice are also visible in the form of hate crimes, militia behavior, and everyday expressions of bigotry, highlighting the persistent operation of minority group stratification in this country.