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Kamala Harris - By Dr. Cheryl Harris

Purposeful Thinking Out Loud …

The day presidential hopeful Joe Biden invited Senator Kamala Harris to join the Democratic ticket as Vice President, women of color celebrated, and we immediately adopted her as our own. Kamala Harris’ rise to the second-highest position in the land should not be a surprise to anyone following politics over the last two years. Harris made a name for herself and blazed a flawless trail of being the first woman of color in several critical political positions in California and now the Democratic Party. The input of women of color at the polls in November (or by mail) could change the balance of power in Washington, DC.

As a woman of color, I am thankful and blessed to celebrate and witness this historic nomination for Kamala Harris in my lifetime. As the euphoria subsides and I review Harris’s political record in detail, I expect her to be vocal, honest, loyal, and transparent on ALL Americans’ issues. For people of color, the Biden and Harris ticket should focus on racial equality, immigration, healthcare, and police reform. Politicians can evolve, and their positions are subject to adjustment over time. “We, the people,” must open our hearts and minds to accept progression instead of seeking perfection. Harris’ record on policing and healthcare may appear murky, ill-defined, and considered inconsistent, as revealed during her presidential campaign. A subtle reminder, the President, drives policy and the VP assumes a supporting role. Black dreamers believed President Obama’s election to the White House would cure racism in eight years. Still, constitutional policy and legislation remain in the hands of Congress to enact laws enduring beyond administrations.

Accept, acknowledge, or dispute it, Kamala Harris is a trailblazer of her times, she is a formidable force in Washington, and a de facto symbol representing all women. Challengers on both sides of the aisle are feverishly looking to discredit her abilities to serve as the VP. Her political record, character, virtue, and past relationships are constant topics in the media and will remains at the forefront over the next 70+ days leading to the election. Recent characterization of Harris’s mean and nasty disposition are stereotypical marques used to portray women of color as angry and aggressive when they demonstrate intelligence, assertiveness, and lift their voices on mainstream issues with the courage of their convictions.

Harris can hold her own, as a politician serving in Congress since 2017, Harris’ reputation in the Senate is supportive and loyal to her party, she votes with the Democratic party 99% of the time. Her steadfast leadership, compassion, and authenticity coupled with intelligence, charisma, grit, and determination, are traits that Harris will require to address executive branch issues and work across the aisle. As VP, Harris must take a bipartisan approach and extend the olive branch to repair the current tone of friction and intolerance between Democrats and Republicans to restore harmony and confidence between the House and Senate.

Being in the room when Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris would provide insight into the rationale for choosing a woman of color. Was it because of America’s deteriorating race relations and emotional response to the death of George Floyd? A running mate should be the person that completes the equation, and race and gender are far less critical than connecting to the American people, experience, compassion, and political savvy. Another question worth asking, is America ready for a woman of color as Commander-in-Chief?

Bottomline. Give Kamala Harris the same chance we gave VP Pence and watch her earn our trust, she might surprise the skeptics.

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