I’ll quote myself from four years ago, when I wrote an open letter to then Senator-elect Kamala Harris — a radio commentary met with: “Kamala who?”
Harris had yet to go to Washington, had yet to be sworn in, but I told her in that December 2016 letter that I saw her as the best hope to be the first female president. I also predicted that come the lead-up to 2020, she should be prepared to step away from her Senate duties to run for president.
This does not mean I was all-in for Harris, then or now. But I’d long admired her political talents and who she represented as the face of a multicultural America. This freshman senator quickly drew attention with her dazzling cross-examinations of a whimpering former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who famously complained her precision questioning made him “nervous.” And not long ago, Sessions’ replacement, current Attorney General William Barr, was left talking out loud to himself, desperate to escape her you-can’t-get-around-this interrogation.
I was surprised when her presidential campaign failed to catch fire, but as they say in politics: Sunny days and rainy days can change very quickly.
And it’s sunny now for the many Black women overwhelmingly enthusiastic not just about Harris’ historic nomination, but about the Democratic Party finally acknowledging their loyalty. Errin Haines, editor-at-large of the nonprofit newsroom The 19th, told MSNBC that Black women are being appreciated “for their input as well as their output.”
Harris’ double identities as Black and Asian also have great meaning for South Asian women. Professor Manisha Sinha wrote in The New York Times that she saw Harris’ nomination as a “personal gift.” Asian-Americans are one of the fastest-growing racial groups; uniting Asian- and African-American voters would be a boost to the Biden/Harris ticket.
Make no mistake: Harris has plenty of detractors, both in and outside the Democratic party. She may be the perfect choice for moderate Biden, but the growing liberal wing of the party is disappointed — some describing her as a “safe choice”? Gotta say, it’ll be many decades before appointing a Black woman to the second-highest office in the land is a “safe choice.”
But Harris will not be the asset to the ticket that Biden needs unless she’s ready to discuss her record as a prosecutor — a record many young Black voters, especially, find problematic. She can do it, and she must do it. No doubt she’ll point to her Senate efforts like her co-sponsorship with decidedly liberal Congresswoman Karen Bass of the Justice in Policing Act, a comprehensive plan which includes policies for police accountability.
When the news of Harris' selection broke, I was immediately reminded of a T-shirt popular with young Black millennials. It reads: “I am my ancestors’ wildest dreams.”
As a woman of color, I have to pause to appreciate the historic importance of Harris’ place on this ticket. No matter what happens in November, I want to remember the sacrifice of the generations of Black mothers, aunts, sisters, and grandmothers who kept their eyes on the prize so Sen. Kamala Harris could become Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris. I only wish they were here to see it.