Triaging Representation

The Congressional Black Caucus and Anti-Black Governance

How does the legislative behavior of the Congressional Black Caucus explain the stubbornness of racial oppression? Can representation save us? I argue that the CBC had a mandate at its inception to be a force for radical action but their entry was simultaneous with racial realignment in Congress. However, to remain relevant to Black communities, the Caucus had to shore up their reputation as racial representatives even as the cross-cutting cleavages that often lead to bill passage were less likely to occur. To test the idea that the Caucus has had to both try to “represent the race” while being unable to broker deals in Congress, I use data drawn from the CongressData dataset as well as to show that while the types of bills and federal award provision that Caucus Members support remains highly keyed in to issues of racial justice, the types of policies that they are able to marshall to passage are less and less impactful over time