What is the best reflection of contemporary racial and ethnic relations in the United States? Have things  really changed since the 19 0s And 19605,when racism andand overt discrimination were a way of life in many communities in this nation? The 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama as the first African American U.S. president is often referred to as a milestone in history, and newspaper articles frequently highlight the “rising sense of racial optimism- (Saulny, 2009: AI) that exists among people across racial/ethnic and class lines  because of Mr. Obama’s election. However, violent actssuch as the murder at the Holocaust Museum continue to be perpetrated by people who apparently have racially biased motives, and many individuals around the nation indicate that they harbor no illusions that problems associated with race are over in this nation. Some people define recent changes as progress; as expressed by one individual, “I’m not saying that the playing field is even, but having elected a black president has done a lot [to improve race relations]” (qtd,  in Saulny, 2009: A26). In this chapter, we examineprejudice, discrimination. sociological perspectives on  race and ethnic relations, and commonalities and differences in the experiences of racial and ethnic groups in the United States. In the process, sports is used as an example of the effects of race and ethnidty on people’s