Let’s take the binary of white/nonwhite – you know, as a totally random example.
Whether you’re ready to admit it yet or not, there’s a hierarchy built in there. Everything about whiteness is perceived as better than nonwhiteness according to our hot little socialized norms. White is equal to “good guys,” to “purity,” to “closer to the divine.” Nonwhite – regardless of the shade and its implications – is considered less than, Stained. Impure. Definitely not good. At least, not as good as white.
From “Good White Racist? Confronting Your Role in Racial Injustice” by Kerry Connelly – Westminster John Knox Press