Women of color are all too familiar with sexist and racist attacks, especially vicious against those in the public eye. So, it was no surprise that vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris would be a target. That’s why a group of Black women formed a self-described defense group, declaring themselves ready to fight back on her behalf.

They’ve been busy. President Donald Trump called her “nasty” from the White House podium. And social media has also been fertile ground for poisoned pen posters like Barry Presgraves, the mayor of the 5,000-resident Luray, Virginia. Presgrave’s now-deleted message said Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden had just announced “Aunt Jemima” as his running mate. His reference, of course, was to Quaker Oats pancake mix featuring the fictional Black woman whose name and imagery was a throwback to slavery. Recently, the company acknowledged the problematic branding, removed her picture and will soon rename the product. But that didn’t stop Mayor Presgraves from using the bigoted language most comfortable to him. I’m sure he didn’t expect the immediate and intense blowback — some from his own city council members — forcing him to apologize for what he described as a “worn-out racist stereotype.”

I thought the Presgraves types would crawl out from under their rocks. But naively, I didn’t think that Harris would also be dive-bombed by white birthers and Black race purists. You remember the birthers — the conspiracists who insisted that former President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. This time, they’ve been aided by Conservative attorney John Eastman, who Harris beat for California attorney general. Eastman wrote an op-ed for Newsweek questioning the legitimacy of Harris’ citizenship, and the Constitutional amendment which guarantees it. Trump, who persisted in birther attacks against Obama, noted Eastman’s rehashed conspiracy theory at a recent White House briefing. “I heard today that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” he told reporters, but wouldn’t reject it as a false theory.

The California-born Harris told the website The Grio she was “cleareyed” about the Trump campaign team engaging in “lies” and “deception.” And Newsweek editors apologized for the op-ed, writing they didn’t think the essay “would be used by some as a tool to perpetuate racism and xenophobia.”

And if the birthers weren’t enough, there are the African-American self-appointed arbiters of race and cultural identity questioning Harris’ Blackness. I joke about having my Black card revoked, but there are those who are seriously carding certain Black folks for not being Black enough. This harkens back to the legacy of the 20th century law known as “one-drop,” which held anybody with “one drop” of Black blood was Black, period. By this standard, white blood was the most valuable. Today’s Blackness litmus test is really a pernicious flip of the fractional Black classification. Though this nonsense has gained momentum with her higher profile, Harris is well practiced in dismissing the commentary about her racial authenticity.

With just about 70 days to the November ballot, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris refuses to be distracted. She knows she can’t ever escape the sexism and racism. The best she can do is guard her flanks and keep marching forward.