The California senator’s historic triumph also represents the millions of women in the demographic – often overlooked, underrepresented, and systematically ignored – now franchisees. new force for the first time in the country’s 200-year history.
“My being here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me,” Harris said in his August Democratic Congressional address, referring to women like Constance Baker Motley, Fannie Lou Hamer and Shirley Chisholm.
“Women and men strongly believe in the promise of equality, freedom and justice for all,” she said.
During her election run for the White House, Harris never shied away from mentioning people trying to enroll or question her as she sought to pave the way for politics.
“I didn’t listen. And people weren’t listening. And we won,” she said.
‘We have tickets’
As a Black and South Asian woman in an overwhelming white arena, Harris on his journey to the White House is something of a pioneer. And the voters noticed.
“It feels like black girls like me can run for class president, black girls like me can do great things in life like her,” 14-year-old Paris Bond told CNN. in August.
Katerina Shadrach, an 11-year-old Caucasian American and South Asian, told CNN at a protest in August 2019 by Harris that Harris was her role model. Inside a crowded gym, Shadrach stood at the edge of the rally, beside her father, Sheldon, clutching Harris’s memoir, “The Truth We Hold,” as she waited for the summit. The artist looked like she stepped onto the stage.
An ambitious US senator himself, Shadrach told Harris after the fact her ambition was to chart a path like Harris’. According to Shadrach, Harris told her “as long as I put my whole heart into it and I do my best, and like the best version of me, I will be able to accomplish my goals. “
Seeing Harris on the Democratic presidential ticket a year later, Shadrach called the moment a “really big step forward” for girls and women like her.
“She was someone who could prove that it could actually happen,” said Shadrach. “You can see a kind of connection, because we are two similar people. And so if she can get there, I can get there. And I can identify with her. . “
Rise and rule
Harris was born in Oakland, California, in 1964, to parents who raised her in a civil rights crib.
Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an Indian immigrant, is a breast cancer researcher; she died of cancer in 2009. Harris’s father, Donald, is a professor of Jamaican American economics. On the runway, the vice president-elect often talks about how her activist parents would push her into the stroller during civil rights rallies. The couple divorced in 1972.
Harris grew up in the Bay Area but regularly travels to India to visit family. At the age of 12, she and her sister, Maya, and her mother moved to Montréal – the majority white person, where Gopalan Harris took up teaching positions at McGill University as well as research positions at the Jewish General Hospital. .
During the campaign, Harris regularly talks about her closeness to her mother.
“My mother, she raised my sister and me, and she was very tough,” Harris said. “Our moms are both five feet tall, but if you’ve ever met her, you’d think she was 10 feet tall.”
After graduating from Howard in 1986 for an undergraduate degree and from the University of California’s Hastings School of Law in 1989, Harris passed the following year and joined the Alameda County prosecutor’s office as a law assistant district monk. From there, she began her political career.
In 2003, Harris won her first race for the position of a San Francisco district attorney, becoming the first black woman to hold such a post in California. In 2010, she became the first Black woman to be elected California attorney general, and in 2016, she became the second Black woman to be elected US senator.
She often talks about life overcoming her hurdles during her primary presidential campaign, saying she understands being the first requires voters to “see what can be solved. by the past. “
More than one demographic
Of course, Harris has a lot of things beyond her gender and race. But her mere presence does so much – so much for people, of all ages, who see themselves within her.
While waiting for Harris to step onto the stage at a rally in Asheville, North Carolina, in October, Elinor Earl, 77, said she never thought she would see a black woman like herself rise above the line. Five like Harris.
“It’s not my age,” Earl told CNN. “It’s great to meet her. I won’t miss a thing in the world.”
“The family is my beloved Alpha Kappa Alpha, our Nine Gods, and my HBCU brothers and sisters,” she said.
Harris is referring to the nickname given to the 9 Black Fraternity and Girls’ Association in US history, and nods to the fact that she was the first graduate student of a Da college or university. Black has historically been chosen as a candidate for a major party.
Harris’s remarks cannot be more in opposition to President Donald Trump’s rhetoric over the past four years.
Indeed, Harris’s bid is a pure refinement of the intricate joy of representation. Usually in his Converse sneakers, the former prosecutor dedicates space for women of color to tell about their life experiences during campaign events on the trail. She has taken a stance in favor of women as black small business owners, frequently asking them to state their company name in front of the press so they can be included in news stories. Some voters feel, in today’s parlance, seen. And by Inauguration Day, that vision will extend to the White House and, potentially, transform into substantive representation.
There was one dire consequence to Harris’s historic victory. In important ways, her success tells a lot about the political institution of the United States as well as about her.
The fact that Harris was the first female, the first black and the first South Asian to be elected vice president was both a test of her excellence – such as her skills as a fighter. against Mike Pence – and reflect the racism and sexism that punishes women of color for running to the executive office.
And while it is true that Harris this week made more of her debut, it is perhaps more accurate to describe the first times as unique – she became the only female, the black and the only. South Asia was elected vice president.
That framework shone a less flattering light for America. But it’s more honest. It also hints at possibility – the possibility that Harris on Saturday opened the door for women and girls who look like her to follow, to gain power for herself.
Harris’s mother says best: “Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.”