Washington, D.C. (Washington Insider Magazine) This year’s Vice-President has brought a lot of “firsts” to the office. Kamala Harris has an Indian mother and a father who is Black Jamaican. She is the first bi-racial woman to take the vice-presidency. Harris is a “Black person, Asian American, Indian, American, and biracial woman” all rolled into one.
Of course, all of these “firsts” come with “their unique set of pressures, primarily for her to embrace her history-making role.” During her first four months in office, people have criticized Harris for not “striking the right balance.” People believe that she is more focused “on being the United States’ first Black vice president than the first Asian American one.”
It is possible that Harris may one day run for president, and the public believes that she has some balancing to do. Harris has clearly declared that she is Black. Television anchor, the Rev. Al Sharpton, talked with Harris about Blacks who Harris believes are heroes. She has participated “in numerous interviews with news outlets geared toward Black audiences from Chicago to San Francisco.”
Now, however, the people of Asian and Indian descent want her to speak out more about those features of her heritage. They want to be hopeful that Harris will “advocate for policy issues important to Asian Americans, including legal immigration, and hate crimes.” Asian Americans believe the need to support their heritage has not been greater “as the discrimination that Asians have long faced continues to grow, marked tragically by the March shooting of six women of Asian descent.”
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif), the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, stresses that Harris carries a huge tool for connecting with the Asian population. Harris can make the Asians feel more included. Harris is a tremendous symbol “for so many people in this country that are Asian American Pacific Islanders.”
Aimee Allison, founder and president of She the People, a national network of women of color, said that Harris is “the complexity of the American identity. She represents the future of the population of the country and a new way of thinking of the country.”
Harris’ late mother – Shyamala Gopalan – raised her children to be Black. Very often, families are forced to choose one race over the other, especially if their children have Black roots.
However, in Harris’ speech to the Democratic National Convention a year ago, she claimed that her mother “raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage.” Obviously, both Black and Indian heritage was important in the family. Gopalan made Indian food for the family and bought them Indian jewelry to wear. In addition, she “took them to India every other year to visit their grandparents in the southern city now called Chennai.”