Does America Have a Caste System?

While the United States does not have a formal caste system or any tradition of one like India does, some argue otherwise. For example, Isabel Wilkerson argues that America does have a caste system that manifests as racial inequality in her 2012 article.

Wilkerson claims that, in America's racial caste system, white people are at the top of the social order, and black people are at the bottom, with other people of color in the middle. Using Latinos as an example, Wilkerson cites a study by Duke University stating that 78 percent of Latinos felt like they had more in common with white people than with black people, and 53 percent said they had the least in common with black people of any race. When Latino immigrants come to America, they hope to assimilate to the top of the social hierarchy by associating themselves with white people rather than black people.