Symbolic black representation in the past has caused empirical leverages for the black population when it comes to electoral processes, political empowerment, fight against racial discrimination and social upheaval. In the past decades, black Americans have been given effective enfranchisement towards electing their own officials, and thus, the growth of minority politics has been given high importance. And as a result debates flared with regards to the effectiveness of the black electoral empowerment.
This African American empowerment has reared skepticism that the election of black officials and the rise of minority politics may cause perverse effects to the society and politics. However, although black representation incurred positive impacts on their community, it doesn’t necessitate that the presence of black representatives ensure that their interests are being effectively taken cared of. Moreover, the minority characteristic of the black political orientation, heightens political alienation amongst the black and their awareness of their adverse inability to carry out policies that shall harness the emancipation of their class and race (Fenno). Moreover, political representation by black official is still seemingly irrelevant since the case is that often, black constituents are not aware of their African American elected legislators (Bullock and Scicchitano 46).
Indeed, this representation is merely “symbolical” in nature, because the African Americans elected are still not equally empowered as compared to elected white officials. Another point is that, although black representation in the political arena entails positive morale amongst the blacks and that even if it increases awareness amongst them, this awareness detracts public attentiveness due to the increased racial debates and the heightened majority-minority clash between race and classes.
Bullock, Charles S., III and Michael J. Scicchitano. “Symbolic Black Representation: An Empirical Test.” Social Science Quarterly 82 (September). 2001
Fenno, Richard F. Home Style: House Members in their Districts. Boston: Little, Brown. 1978