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, serves as an exploratory platform predicated on Black women mayors’ role in African American politics, specifically their leadership approach and its public reception. Paper one explores the rhetorical choices of Black women mayors and how these choices differ from their race and gendered counterparts. In this paper, I formalized a concept termed “Experiential Rhetoric,” defined as the deployment of a candidate’s lived experience as a means of persuasion. Experiential rhetoric has its roots in Black feminist scholarship because “lived experience,” as a concept, is situated and validated, there. I then use Black feminist tenets to inform a coding scheme that further analyzes rhetorical speech among Black women mayors when advocating for their policy preferences on the campaign trail. Paper two is motivated by Gershon’s (2013) and Philpot and Walton’s (2007) contributions and examines white women voters’ lack of gendered support for Black women politicians. Through a representative sample of over 1,000 white women voters, I sought to validate and contextualize the claims that gendered consciousness does not exist between Black and white women, by exploring what conditions would yield the greatest support for Black women politicians. Lastly, my findings from Paper one, that Black women politicians leverage their lived experience more than their race and gendered counterparts, serves as my motivation for paper three, where I run a survey experiment on 1,000 Black voters to explore how identity-salient frames are perceived. 

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

Block Jr, Ray, Wright, Andrene and Powel, Mia “Americans Remain Hopeful about Democracy Despite Fears of its Demise” The Conversation

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

Peer-Reviewed Articles

Wright, Andrene (2023). Telling the Tale: Black Women Politicians and Their Use of Experiential Rhetoric. Politics & Gender, 1-28. doi:10.1017/S1743923X23000077

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)

Working Papers

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