Jennifer Chudy

Knafel Assistant Professor of Social Sciences and Assistant Professor of Political Science

Studies American politics with an emphasis on race and ethnicity, public opinion, and political psychology

I study race and ethnicity in American politics. More specifically, I examine the relationship between voters' attitudes about race and their political opinions and behavior. My forthcoming book, Some White Folks: The Interracial Politics of Sympathy, Suffering, and Solidarity, will be published as part of the Chicago Studies in American Politics Series in the fall of 2024. The book introduces the attitude of racial sympathy - defined as white Americans' distress over Black Americans' suffering and demonstrates its application to American politics. Reversing course from a long tradition of studying the powerful and pernicious effect of white racial prejudice on public opinion, I consider the other side of the coin: the possibility that non-trivial proportions of white Americans are distressed over Black suffering and that this racial sympathy carries important political consequences. My book draws on multiple sources of evidence, including surveys, experiments, participant observation, and long-form interviews. My 2021 article in the Journal of Politics summarizes this work.

In addition to my research on racial sympathy, I have examined guilt and prejudice among white Americans. In other projects, I consider political trust and efficacy and how different racial groups experience these critical concepts. My research has been featured in outlets such as New York Times, the Washington Post/Monkey Cage, The Nation, Mother Jones, and I occasionally comment on race and American politics for, CBS News, and Vox. I also provided commentary on the "Racial Reckoning" following George Floyd's murder in a guest essay for the New York Times Sunday Review featured on NPR's Code Switch. I was previously a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.

At Wellesley, I teach courses related to American politics, race and politics, political psychology, and research methods.

I grew up in a multiracial and interfaith household. Before graduate school, I worked in politics and have experience at the federal, state, and local levels of the American government. I was also a Fulbright Grantee in South Korea. Outside academics, I enjoy watching musicals. I once wrote to Stephen Sondheim about my introductory American Politics course at Wellesley, and, to my delight, he replied. I have his letter proudly displayed in my office.


  • A.B., Brown University
  • M.A., University of Michigan
  • Ph.D., University of Michigan

Current and upcoming courses

  • This seminar examines race and ethnicity in American politics, with special attention to the modern civil rights era of the 1960s and beyond. We will consider the definition and political meaning of racial and ethnic identities, the role of racial identity and attitudes in structuring Americans' political opinions and behaviors, how redistricting shapes the representation of non-white groups, the political implications of intersections among race, ethnicity, class, gender, and sexuality, and the role of race in recent national elections.