Ideas of race, racial identity, and racial categorization, reflect the inconsistent, context-specific and fluctuating nature of racial meaning (Nagel, 1986; Forbes, 1990; Davis, 1991; Nagel, 1994; Haney-Lopez, 1995; Ignatiev, 1995; Kibria, 1996,1998; Niven & Zilber, 2000; Morning, 2001; Lacy, 2004). Studies of racial hierarchy, specifically, enable an understanding of not only the social construction of race, but also the manner in which ideas of race operate to influence human reality.” Within the United States, race “permeates the lives of the native-born and immigrants alike” (Bashi & McDaniel, 1997, p. 686, see also Bashi, 1998). More specifically, a continuum between white and black persists and is a critical conceptual schema grounding the many manifestations of racism in the United States. This white-to-black continuum is hierarchical as well with whites at the top and blacks at the bottom (Feagin, 2000, p. 220). While the specific history of the United States facilitates this hierarchy, it has also been found beyond the borders of the United States (Small, 1994, Twine, 1998).

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