This study searches for suggestive evidence of an ethnic inequality trap in educational attainment in Brazil and Chile. The research aims to cover an existing gap in the literature on inequality traps and proposes an empirical approach to assess certain conditions which might imply its existence. The main results indicate that while average education and upward mobility have risen in both countries, ethnic disparities remain significant. In particular, the evidence is suggestive of an educational inequality trap for Afro-Brazilians, while the findings are less conclusive of a trap for indigenous individuals in Chile. These results reflect the need for targeted education policies for ethnic groups in two ways: compensation (or affirmative action) mechanisms to lower current inequality, and increasing demand and supply at higher educational levels to prevent the persistence of low level outcomes and disparities throughout the educational distribution.