Dimensions of Blackness

Racial Identity and Political Beliefs

By Jas M. Sullivan, Jonathan Winburn, and William E. Cross Jr.

Subjects: African American Studies, Political Science, Cultural Studies, Public Policy, Psychology
Series: SUNY series in African American Studies
Hardcover : 9781438471617, 194 pages, November 2018
Paperback : 9781438471600, 194 pages, July 2019

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


1. Understanding Black Racial Identity

2. Measuring and Analyzing the Influence of Multidimensional Racial Identity

3. Social Dominance Orientation

4. Black Nationalism and Racial Attitudes

5. Policy Attitudes

6. Political Participation

Appendix: Models for Single- Item Measures
Selected Bibliography

A multidimensional approach captures the complexities of African American racial identity.


While the dynamics of racial oppression limit the range of attitudes blacks may construct and hold, their basic humanity introduces additional attitudinal variance that is nearly boundless. Rather than claim it is possible to conceptualize and measure every iteration of blackness, modern social theorists such as Robert Sellers and William Cross Jr. contend that one should systematically "sample" the unmanageable range of different identity frames found among blacks. In Dimensions of Blackness, the authors suggest there is no single, solitary way to express black racial identity. They move away from blackness as binary and instead reveal what happens when black racial identity is conceptualized with "difference of opinion." Using a multidimensional perspective this book explores whether black racial identity differences among blacks influence political attitudes and behavior.

Jas M. Sullivan is Associate Professor of Political Science and African and African American Studies at Louisiana State University. He is the coauthor (with Jonathan Winburn) of The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus: Race and Representation in the Pelican State. Jonathan Winburn is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Social Science Research Lab at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of The Realities of Redistricting: Following the Rules and Limiting Gerrymandering in State Legislative Redistricting. William E. Cross Jr. is Clinical Professor of Higher Education and Counseling Psychology at the University of Denver and Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the coeditor (with Jas M. Sullivan) of Meaning-Making, Internalized Racism, and African American Identity, also published by SUNY Press.


"[The authors'] well-crafted findings accent how self-chosen identities are multifaceted, and how identity choices affect political policy views and participation. Their innovative analysis goes beyond studies using unidimensional identity measures." — CHOICE