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To fully understand the experiences and prospects of young adults in Chicago, we must reckon with the city’s history of racial exclusion and institutional racism. These histories come together to make Chicago an epicenter for the study of race and inequality in the United States. As will be shown in this section, race—the idea that people are members of distinct groups based on differences in skin color, hair texture, and other features—is among the most powerful concepts shaping American society. Race, of course, has no biological basis. But systems and institutions use race to sort and confer differing levels of advantage and disadvantage. In doing so, systems and institutions give the idea of race social meaning and unimaginable influence over social, political, and economic outcomes.