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Leaders of Black Lives Matter intended an intersectional movement, but BLM is not always interpreted as intersectional by the public. I theorize how Black Americans think about intersectionality in BLM and report the results of a survey experiment to test the effect of three of these frames—Black Nationalist, Feminist, and LGBTQ+ Rights—on the mobilization of African Americans. Exposure to these frames generates differential effects on respondents’ willingness to support, trust, and write representatives about the Black Lives Matter movement. These findings raise new questions about the deployment of intersectional messaging strategies within movements for racial justice.
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Tabitha Bonilla is Assistant Professor in Human Development and Social Policy and Faculty Fellow at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University. As a political scientist, she broadly examines how elite communication influences voter opinions of candidates and political policies. In particular, her work focuses on how messaging polarizes attitudes or can bridge attitudinal divides with substantive focuses on important topics in American politics ranging from gun control to human trafficking to Black Lives Matter. Her most recent work examines how identity contextualizes messages around policy.