Both politicians and the mass public believe that identity influences political behavior yet, political scientists have failed to fully detail how identity is salient for all political actors not just minorities and women legislators. To what extent do racial, gendered, and race/gendered identities affect the legislation decision process? To test this proposition, I examine how race and gender based identities shape the legislative decisions of Black women in comparison to White men, White women, and Black men. I find that Black men and women legislators interviewed believe that racial identity is relevant in their decision making processes, while White men and women members of the Maryland state legislature had difficulty deciding whether their identities mattered and had even more trouble articulating how or why they did. African American women legislators in Maryland articulate or describe an intersectional identity as a meaningful and significant component of their work as representatives. More specifically, Black women legislators use their identity to interpret legislation differently due to their race/gender identities.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.