Systems of ethnic stratification in the American hemisphere display certain basic characteristics that lend them a uniform character across different multiethnic societies. Foremost among these is the high concentration of members of the original European settler group, that is, the dominant ethnic group, in the most privileged social, educational, economic, and political statuses, concomitantly with the underrepresentation of the ethnic minorities - primarily individuals of African and Amerindian extraction, but also including those from non-European groups that arrived later - in these more favorable conditions. 1 This pattern of socioeconomic and political inequality translates concretely into the more limited access of ethnic minorities to the basic social resources, that is, to the workplace, housing, health care, education; also, to legal justice, property ownership, and bureaucratic power. Because this material dimension of intergroup inequality is more immediate and readily intelligible, it becomes that which is invariably relied upon as the basis for scholarly as well as lay appraisals and comparisons of the interethnic problem. As noted in the preceding chapter, the prevalent approach in the last couple of decades, as for instance in the "revisionist" literature on slavery and race relations (e.g., Davis, 1966; Degler, 1971; Pescatello, 1975; Conrad, 1983), has been to accept the uniformity of ethnic and racial oppression across different societies as a given, and to make little effort to account for the variance in the degree and manner in which this phenomenon is actually expressed in different cultural systems. The general tenor of conventional comparative analyses of the interethnic problem is that if the outward appearances of the different models of group relations are essentially the same - that is, if ethnic minorities, and people of African descent in particular, are everywhere victimized by the lingering presence of material arrangements of inequality and by ideological disparagement - then, things 26must be the same everywhere. Which is to say, there are really no differences worth making a big fuss about. This judgement is deplorably myopic and unjustified since it bypasses, or worse, steamrolls, important differences that do exist, and may in a sense be even more fundamental than the similarities.