How Kamala Harris’s VP Nomination Could Inspire a New Conversation on Race
During the 2020 Democratic National Convention Kamala Harris became one of only a few women in U.S. history to accept the vice-presidential nomination on a major party ticket.
She was the first woman of color to do so.
“My mother instilled in my sister, Maya, and me the values that would chart the course of our lives,” said Harris in her acceptance speech. “She raised us to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
Harris is resonating with Black women, especially older Black women who have been fighting for decades to have their voices heard.
She acknowledged their struggle in her acceptance speech:
“This week marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment. And we celebrate the women who fought for that right. Yet so many of the Black women who helped secure that victory were still prohibited from voting, long after its ratification. But they were undeterred.
Without fanfare or recognition, they organized, testified, rallied, marched, and fought—not just for their vote, but for a seat at the table. These women and the generations that followed worked to make democracy and opportunity real in the lives of all of us who followed.”
Black women have made progress since the days of suffrage, to be sure. But the attacks on Harris from the right and the left remind us she faces an uphill battle in a country with deeply entrenched racism, sexism, and white supremacy.
Misogynists have used derogatory terms on t-shirts to describe her. Eric and Don Jr. have shared ugly tweets about how she’s “not an American Black” and calling her a “whorendous pick.” Even some Biden supporters tried to prevent her from becoming the nominee, calling her “too ambitious.” Then there are the birther conspiracies about where she was born—fueled by a dead-serious conservative effort to overturn the legal basis of American citizenship.
It’s all too familiar.
Despite the naysayers—and because of them—Harris’s selection is historic. It’s the first time a Black woman or a woman of Asian descent is on a major party ticket (Shirley Chisholm helped pave the way in 1972).
Born to a Jamaican father and Indian mother, Harris’s identity is complex. Like others with mixed racial backgrounds, Harris says she been pressured to “choose” between her Black and Indian identities.
In a podcast discussion about race Harris said her mother raised Kamala and her sister, Maya, as Black women because she understood that’s how they’d be seen. But Harris clearly also identifies with her Indian heritage.
Harris’s nomination has reminded us that America’s racial makeup is changing—a fact that makes many Americans uncomfortable, if not angry. Multiracial people make up 7% of the nation’s population, and that number is expected to triple over the next few decades, according to Pew. There are more than 4 million Indian Americans in the U.S., a demographic that is growing quickly, and at least a quarter of all kids in the U.S. have an immigrant parent.
The time is ripe for change. The rise to prominence of a figure like Harris was inevitable in an increasingly diverse America, despite deeply entrenched political forces trying to prevent BIPOC women and men from leading.
Even if Trump tries to steal the election—and fears are growing he might—he simply can’t undo Harris’s historic nomination or the steady march toward a multiracial country in which all voices are heard and represented. Let’s hope Harris’s nomination helps spark the conversations we so desperately need about racial identity and inclusivity in America.
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Danielle Moodie is making waves with her inspiring and energizing podcasts for Black women. She goes deep on Woke AF, a daily 1-hour rundown on all the chaos going down in Washington. And together, Danielle Moodie & Toure co-host democracy-ish—a weekly rundown of politics and the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view.
Check out these and all DCP’s Black-hosted podcasts at https://www.dcpofficial.com/.