What is it about?

This article investigates the impact of Black congressional representation on the racial attitudes of Whites. Utilizing data from the 2010 and 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Survey, we test whether Black political representation impacts Whites’ levels of racial resentment. The informational theory suggests Whites gain critical information as a result of their experience living under Black political leadership and that their experience should positively impact how they feel about Blacks once Whites see that their lives are not dramatically changed as a result of Black political representation.

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Why is it important?

The findings of this article challenge the notion that having a Black political representative will be associated with a decrease in negative racial attitudes among Whites. Using racial resentment to measure White racial attitudes, we find that living under a Black congressional representative only has a marginal effect on racial attitudes. In contrast to the informational hypothesis, we find that Whites who reside in congressional districts represented by a Black person are not less racially resentful than Whites who live in districts that are not represented by a Black person.


This article offers a unique perspective on how black representation has little impact on how whites feel about black political representation. It also maintains important implications about barriers to black political representation generally.

Emmitt Riley
DePauw University

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This page is a summary of: Examining the Impact of Black Political Representation on White Racial Attitudes in Majority Black Congressional Districts, Journal of Black Studies, September 2019, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0021934719871179.
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