The Western Political Science Association celebrated its 75th Anniversary this year. Comprised of more than 1,250 political scientists and based in Portland State University, the WPSA promotes research and teaching of government, politics, policy, and public affairs. This is a welcoming space where political scientists can join together as a community and share cutting-edge research and teaching. The scholarship produced is inclusive and represents both theoretical and methodological diversity. Many of the ideas presented at the WPSA are eventually published in academic journals so that a wider audience can benefit from the research emerging from these conferences. Given America’s purported “racial reckoning” after the death of George Floyd in May of 2020 in addition to the Covid 19 pandemic transforming life as we knew it for the past two years, this year’s conference theme was aptly named, “Recovering, Reconciling, and Rebuilding Community”.
For the WPSA conference, I presented a paper I co-authored with two of my colleagues and the paper was titled “Who Supports Movements for Black Lives? Comparing White and Black Christian vs. Non-Christian Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement”. Using the 2020 Collaborative Multiracial Post-Election Survey, our study examined White and Black Christian and Non-Christian Support for the Black Lives Matter Movement and we found that White Christians are less likely than their non-Christian counterparts to express verbal support for the Black Lives Matter movement, engage in a protest for Black lives, and post on social media to express support the movement.
We presented our research on a panel of other papers that share similar themes related to religiosity, racial empathy, and exclusion. One paper I found particularly interesting on our panel was about whether or not multi-ethnic evangelical churches could be spaces for racial reconciliation as they confront racial inequalities in their congregations and within society. It was extremely encouraging to meet other scholars sharing similar research interests on the role of the Church in racial reconciliation efforts, to receive helpful feedback to prepare our paper for submission to an academic journal, and I look forward to attending next year’s annual meeting in San Francisco with the theme of “Unity in the Midst of Disunity: The Role of Political Science in Democracy”.