- Kamsi Obiorah
Kamala Harris Just Made History
Updated: Apr 6, 2021
On June 18, Senator Amy Klobuchar withdrew her name from consideration to be Joe Biden’s vice president. She wanted Biden to pick a woman of color to be his running mate instead. This is one of the many indications that we have seen over the past few months that times are changing. While Senator Klobuchar’s decision is in fact very admirable, she was not the sole driving factor in the selection of a black female vice president.
Even before the nation-wide protests in the summer, black women were spearheading change on a federal level. In late April, over 200 black female leaders within the Democratic Party signed an open letter to Biden urging him to select a black woman to be on his ticket.
These incredible women were motivated to ensure a spot for one of their own in the White House. They did not wait for a hand-out, rather, they took it upon themselves to call attention to the skills and qualifications that the current black female congresswomen, mayors, ambassadors, and senators possessed.
These women highlighted the loyalty that black female voters have shown to the Democratic Party and their constant willingness to be on the forefront of change. They put a much needed spotlight on the overlooked work of many powerful black female leaders.
Earlier this week, Kamala Harris stepped into this spotlight and became the first black woman and woman of Indian descent to be nominated to a major party ticket. “Finally,” I thought to myself, “Structural change is happening.” Given the pressure that Biden faced to nominate a woman of color, I knew that his decision would be inevitable. However, Kamala Harris’ nomination still felt unreal.
Kamala Harris, a woman inspired by the work of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court Justice, initially became a lawyer to right the wrongs of the justice system. During her presidential campaign, Harris planned to terminate private prisons and mandatory minimum sentences in order to bring about change with regards to mass incarceration. She pledged to help undo the damage caused by specific policies that directly targeted African Americans.
However, certain aspects of Harris’ past career have proved to be displeasing. Like her running mate Joe Biden, Harris has been accused of adopting a centrist attitude towards certain cases and policies in the past.
As California’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris imprisoned people for marijuana charges, did not allow the release of evidence that would have freed a death row inmate, implemented an anti-truancy policy that criminalized parents, and initially did not make body cameras mandatory for police officers to wear.
However, it is safe to say that her role with regards to criminal justice reform has truly evolved over the years. In 2015, Kamala Harris implemented a first-of-its-kind training program that worked to both acknowledge and counteract the implicit biases of police officers.
Kamala Harris has also worked to reform the cash bail system, a system that disproportionately harms poor communities and communities of color. Harris has also advocated for the funding of health treatment for the African American community as a form of reparations.
Given the pressure from our generation that both Biden and Harris face to address the faults of the justice system, we can assume that Biden and Harris will move our nation in the right direction.
As she was brought into the spotlight, Kamala Harris faced instant backlash from President Trump. President Trump did not even hesitate before labeling Harris as a nasty and angry woman. Such comments obviously play into the angry black woman stereotype.
Kamala Harris is a beacon of hope for the black female community. Her position on a major party ticket foreshadows the future increase of women of color in positions of power. As America reckons with racial justice, Kamala Harris’s nomination proves to be a sign of change and marks a turning point in our nation’s history.