An Intersectional Approach to Understanding Representation in State Legislatures

An Intersectional Approach to Understanding Representation in State Legislatures

By Christian Dyogi Phillips, University of Southern California

The 2020 US Census unfolded against a contentious national political backdrop marked by protests seeking racial justice, unstable immigration policies, partisan rancor, and growing distrust in government institutions. Under these conditions, the power and potential long-term effects of upcoming battles over redistricting loom large. At the same time, within the halls of almost every American state legislature where these debates will occur, there is scant descriptive evidence that large-scale population changes have occurred since the late 1990s. The stagnant character of the race and gender composition of most state legislatures runs counter to widely espoused ideals of political access, and it undermines the legitimacy of these bodies as democratic institutions.