Kamala Harris is not Black Enough for Some Americans
As soon as Joe Biden announced Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. a barrage of attacks was launched against her by President Trump and his rightwing allies.
Trump described Kamala Harris as nasty, angry, and horrible. Tucker Carlson of Fox News mispronounced her first name, even got angry when corrected by a guest on his show. Eric Trump, the President’s son marked as favorite a tweet (which was later deleted), that referred to Harris as a “whorendous pick.” Here are two other false allegations.
- The Claim: Donald Trump who began to question President Obama’s citizenship as early as 2011, created another birtherism controversy by quoting an op-ed in Newsweek written by John Eastman, a conservative attorney who argued that Harris is ineligible to be granted citizenship because of her parents’ immigration status. He also claimed that the U.S. Constitution does not grant birthright citizenship.
- The Truth: Sen. Harris was born in Oakland, California in 1964 and therefore is a “natural born citizen” eligible to hold any office in the U. S. including that of the Vice President or President. According to the Associated Press, Newsweek has apologized for publishing the op-ed.
Kamala Harris is not Black because her ancestors owned slaves
- The Claim: Dinesh D’Souza, an Indian-American far-right political provocateur, and a convicted felon (who has been pardoned by President Trump) tweeted this, “Kamala Harris is directly descended from one of the largest slaveowners in Jamaica, Hamilton Brown.”
- The Truth: D’Souza’s assertion that Harris’ ancestors owned slaves is based on an account of the Harris family history given by Kamala Harris’ father, Donald Harris. He claimed that his paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown), is a descendant of Hamilton Brown. The fact-checking site snopes.com has investigated this assertion and determined that “we have been unable to verify that a line of descent exists between the modern-day Harris family and the 19th-century slave owner. As such, the claim that an ancestor of Sen. Harris owned slaves in Jamaica remains unproven.” If a DNA test is done on the descendants of African slaves, at least a trace of white blood will be found in most of them.
- The Claim: Later on Fox News, Dinesh D’Souza declared that because she had a slaveowner as an ancestor, Harris cannot claim her racial identity as Black.
- The Truth: D’Souza seems to have conveniently forgotten the Jim Crow era “one-drop rule”, according to which Kamala Harris and her sister, because of the African blood from their Jamaican father, would only be considered Black in the United States.
Kamala Harris is not “Indian Enough” for some Indians
Sen. Kamala Harris is a biracial woman whose father was a Jamaican and mother an Indian. Some in the Indian media and social media posts by some Indian-Americans in the U.S. began to question whether she will support Prime Minister Modi’s policies in Kashmir. Sen. Harris has been critical of the Indian government’s clamp-down in Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, which granted special status to Kashmir in 2019. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the U.S., in a message welcoming Modi, she reiterated “the unbreakable bonds between our two nations.” The Economic Times, an Indian newspaper had this headline, the day after her name was announced as the VP pick: Kamala Harris Too ‘Left’ or Enough Indian? The article acknowledged that she has been brought up as Black and that she has repeatedly said both sides of her heritage are important.
In an earlier article published in Medium, I made this statement:
She [Sen. Harris] delivered her ebullient remarks with a charming smile on the day she was introduced as the VP pick, but her tone was more prosecutorial. She has a biography that will resonate with many immigrant and African-American families. I wish on Wednesday evening when she delivers her acceptance speech, she would make it more personable with anecdotes from her life as a black child of immigrants.
On Wednesday, August 19, 2020, Sen. Kamala Harris delivered. During the first five minutes of her acceptance speech as the Vice Presidental candidate, she made a forceful case for her being Black while acknowledging her Jamaican and Indian ancestry and paid tributes to her mother, Shyamala Goplan.
“There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother — Shyamala Gopalan Harris. She came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer. At the University of California Berkeley, she met my father, Donald Harris, who had come from Jamaica to study economics…In the streets of Oakland and Berkeley, I got a stroller’s eye view of people getting into what the great John Lewis called “good trouble.” When I was five, my parents split and my mother raised us mostly on her own. Like so many mothers, she worked around the clock to make it work — packing lunches before we woke up — and paying bills after we went to bed. Helping us with homework at the kitchen table — and shuttling us to church for choir practice…She raised us to be proud, strong Black women. And she raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.”
Then she talked about her immediate family and her extended family.
“She taught us to put family first — the family you’re born into and the family you choose. Family is my husband Doug, who I met on a blind date set up by my best friend. Family is our beautiful children, Cole and Ella, who as you just heard, call me Momala. Family is my sister…Family is my uncles, my aunts, and my chithis…Family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha …and my H.B.C.U. brothers and sisters…Family is the friends I turned to when my mother — the most important person in my life — passed away from cancer…And even as she taught us to keep our family at the center of our world, she also pushed us to see a world beyond ourselves.”
Anti-Kamala Harris Propaganda by Hindu Nationalists
Here is a collage of tweets falsely accusing Kamala Harris of being anti-Indian.
Let me refute each of these accusations:
- The first tweet is from #HindusforTrump and claims Kamala Harris’ mother wrote caucasian in her birth certificate. Reuters has fact-checked this accusation and debunked the claim.
- The second tweet is from the Twitter handle @Voice_For_India which accuses Kamala Harris as being pro-Pakistan and therefore anti-Indian. Sen. Harris in the video says this, “we will fight against racism, we will fight against anti-Muslim rhetoric and we will fight against all those who are marginalized.” Those statements do not make her pro-Pakistan or anti-Indian.
- The third tweet is also from @Voice_For_India which claims that the Open Society Foundation does mass conversions (from Hinduism to Christianity?). Since 2004, the Open Society Foundation in India has provided $11.9 million in grants, the bulk of which funded democratic practices, justice reform, and health issues. Just because Kamala Harris is pictured with Alexander Soros, son of the billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros, it cannot be insinuated that she favors conversions from Hinduism, which in itself is an unsubstantiated allegation against the Open Society Foundation.
The Republican National Convention began today and there will be four nights of prime time speeches. More Kamala bashing and false accusations will surface. Brace for another seventy-one days of incessant personal attacks from the Trump camp.