Lessie Branch

Director of Programs Community Relations, Citizens Committee for New York City
Associate Dean, School for Business, Metropolitan College of New York
Chapter Member: New York City SSN
Areas of Expertise:

About Lessie

Dr. Branch is a Racial Policy Scholar, Fulbright Specialist in Race, Ethnicity & Religion in Politics, Director Programs Community Relations at Citizens Committee for New York City & Director of The Think Tank at The Thinkubator. Her work examines the gulf between Black optimism about group progress and the actual data on continuing disparities, questions of social knowledge, social beliefs and relative group position through the transformative application of rhetorical criticism to interrogate narratives that structure social practices in ways that privilege some and marginalize others. She has a Ph.D. in Public Policy from The New School.

In the News

"Don’t miss your moment!," Lessie Branch, Op-Ed, Bronx Times, January 7, 2022.
Guest to discuss 2020 Census on BronxTalk, Lessie Branch, January 27, 2020.
"Big Money and Its Impact on Candidates of Color in the 2020 Race," Lessie Branch, Blavity, January 21, 2020.
Guest to discuss issues in higher education on BronxTalk, Lessie Branch, October 14, 2019.
Guest to discuss the widening wealth gap and the Black community on The Sanders Report, Lessie Branch, January 31, 2017.
Guest to discuss the legacy of President Obama's race rhetoric on You are Here from WERS, Lessie Branch, November 2, 2016.
Guest to discuss Paradoxical Ebullience, a contradiction in the purported ebullient view that Blacks hold regarding their economic position relative to the reality of their economic progress on Tedx Talks, Lessie Branch, March 30, 2016.


"Race and the Ghost of Jim Crow" Racism Review (2015).

Discusses the re-emergence of Jim Crow.

"Reexamining the "Obama Effect": How Barack Obama's Rhetoric Spread Optimistic Colorblindness in an Age of Inequality" Journal of Contemporary Rhetoric 6, no. 3 (2016): 99-111.

Examines the paradox between increased optimism among Black Americans and continued socioeconomic stagnation among the same group.

"The Epidemic of Colorblindness" Racism Review (2015).

Discusses colorblindness as an epidemic in America.

"Optimism at All Costs: Black Attitudes, Activism and Advancement in Obama's America" (University of Massachusetts Press, 2018).

Explains the paradox of Obama era black optimism despite continued black socioeconomic stagnation. Engages in clarification of  an evolution from a "linked-fate" political discourse to a "post-racial/bootstrap" frame that focuses on individualism to achieve racial parity.

"Elisabeth Hasselbeck, Fox, and "Hate Group" Labels" Racism Review (2015).

Discusses Black Lives Matter and Hasselbeck's question for why the group was not labeled a hate group.