Social scientists typically take racial identity as static and given, but a counterargument states that racial identity is fluid and, more crucially, endogenous. In other words, one’s identity is not an independent variable: Related factors (like one’s previous experience of discrimination) may affect one’s propensity to identify as black.

This two-way relationship has major implications for analysis. In this article, the authors argue that, rather than simply thinking about racial identification affecting various phenomena such as voting preference or racial group attachment, one should also consider whether racial group attachment affects how one identifies racially.