Current Research

Wright is a Race, Ethnicity and Politics (REP) scholar whose research in American politics sits at the intersection of political behavior, urban politics and women in politics. Using Black women as her foci, her work encourages political science to further explore Black women and their intersectional experiences to modernize and evolve normative theories of Black politics. 


Wright’s dissertation, When They Enter: Black Women’s Politics in U.S Urban Centers, is a three-part paper series that centers on questions related to the role of Black women mayors in African American politics and the response of Black constituents living in those cities. Using coding schemes in public speeches and interviews, paper one will explore Black women’s rhetorical choices and how these choices differ from other race and gendered candidates. Paper two will examine the gender and racial gap among citizens in Black women’s mayoral performance evaluations with an experiment. Lastly, paper three will use focus group data to scrutinize agenda frames that are most favorable to the Black community by Black women mayors. 

Dissertation Committee: Dr. Alvin Tillery (chair), Dr. Reuel Rogers, Dr. Jennifer Nash (Duke University), Dr. Tabitha Bonilla
Funded by the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy (CSDD)

Public Scholarship

Wright, Andrene Z. May 7, 2022. “Black Motherhood Shapes Leadership in Unique Ways” The Washington Post

Book Chapters

Wright, Andrene Z. and McNeely, Natasha Alteema “I’m a Mother First: How Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ Intersecting Identities Inform her Criminal Justice Reform Policies”, Distinct Identities: Minority Women in U.S Politics, (2) Forthcoming

Working Papers

Telling the Tale: Black Women Politicians and their Use of Experiential Rhetoric (invited to “revise and resubmit” to Politics and Gender)

Using race-gendered language on the campaign trail can be perceived to undermine a candidate’s viability, with skepticism of racial and gendered language rooted in the assumption that a minority candidate may be “too narrow” in their concerns. Yet and still, we know that Black women are more likely to advocate for raced-gendered policies than both their Black male and white counterparts (Bratton, Haynie and Reginold, 2007), and that Black women legislators talk more about race on Twitter than their male counterparts (Tillery, 2019). This paper contributes to a growing discourse by using a Black Feminist epistemological framework to explore rhetoric on the campaign trail from Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, Lori Lightfoot of Chicago and Muriel Bowser of Washington DC.

  • presented at the American Political Science Association (APSA) annual conference, “Toward Pluralism in REP/Black Women’s Elections” panel (2021)
  • Funded by the Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy (CSDD)

The Face of a Movement: Colorism and Racism in the Evaluation of Black Women Leaders with Michelle Bueno Vasquez

Phenotype plays a vital role in the evaluation of Black women candidates, as Black women with a lighter skin tone and more relaxed hair texture tend to garner significantly more support than those with a darker skin tone and more textured hair (Brown and Lemi, 2021). Notwithstanding these limitations, Black women have exhibited adept leadership in the Capitol as well as in activism: #BLM and #MeToo, two of the largest social movements in contemporary politics, were founded by Black women. This paper expands the literature of Black women political leaders to understand the spatial differences between formal and informal politics and their potential, and perhaps unexpected, similarities. With a mixed-method research design encompassing a survey experiment and follow-up interviews, we aim to answer the question: “How do skin tone and hair variation affect the perceived capabilities of Black women leading social movements like BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo?”

  • will be presented at the American Political Science Association (APSA) annual conference, “Leadership at the Intersection of Gender, Race and Class”, panel (September, 2022)
  • presented at the Western Political Science Association (WPSA) annual conference, “Race, Gender and Political Elites” panel (2022)
  • Funded by the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP), Rutgers University