Ayana Best

Email: abest5@wisc.edu

Ayana Best - Pre Doctoral

I am currently a Race and Ethnic Predoctoral Fellow at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and a doctoral candidate in the Political Science and International Relations Department at the University of Southern California. My research interests lie broadly in American politics and more specifically in race and ethnic politics, the politics of gender and sexuality, political behavior and institutions. I am most interested in understanding how race, gender and class influence traditional and non-traditional political participation of marginalized individuals and groups. It is important to me that my research engages communities of color and creates solutions for the issues facing these communities. To best answer my research questions, I use both quantitative and qualitative research methodology including survey research, interviews and survey experiments. The primary goals of my current research are to advance the study of race and the politics of policing by examining how police violence influences varying types of political engagement among Black women. I previously held a research position at the USC Center for Feminist Research, working on projects addressing homelessness for women of color in California and with the California Black redistricting Hub providing policy analysis that informs strategic priorities and planning related to redistricting in the Black community.

My dissertation research examines the effects of state-sanctioned violence on Black women’s political participation and civic engagement. I argue that Black women possess a stronger sense of a collective consciousness through their shared experiences and are more likely to mobilize against police violence because of the threat it poses to themselves and more importantly, their loved ones. I created a survey pilot that included over 8 Black female respondents. The questions focused on the salience of Black feminist consciousness and Black women’s personal and indirect experiences with police officers.