Never before in my years of following the U.S. elections have I heard or felt so much excitement for a vice presidential nominee.
Ever since Joe Biden named Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate last week, I have been receiving calls, texts, emails, and “thumbs up” messages from people from all over the around the world expressing excitement about Harris’s appointment.
Kamala Harris isn’t new to politics; it isn’t as though she emerged out of the blue. So the excitement is as much about Kamala Harris as what her nomination represents to women and girls, especially Black and Asian American girls: It’s a historic achievement and a message that they can do it too. As I often like to say, “If you can see it, you can be it.”
Think about it: It is only the third time in the country’s history that a woman was chosen to be on a major party ticket as vice presidential candidate — the only two others before Kamala Harris were Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008. And, it is the first time a Black woman or an Asian American woman has been tapped for this position.
As we celebrate the 100th year anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote, it is hard not to be excited by this historic nomination. And if you are a Black or Indian woman or a girl, you probably are practically giddy.
Of course we respect and admire Kamala Harris’ gumption, her ability to stand up to men in positions of power, men like Attorney General William Barr and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. We respect Harris because she has a track record for breaking many barriers with many “firsts” under her belt. She was the first Black and South Asian woman chosen for national office by a major political party; the first woman, and first Black woman, to serve as the state’s top law enforcement official. She is the first Black woman from California to serve in the U.S. Senate. And, of course, Harris represents the first person of Indian descent to appear on a presidential ticket.
Regardless of politics, Kamala Harris is a role model to young women of what they could become. Representation is important and in this respect, Harris’s nomination brings representation to multiple groups and cultures that rarely see themselves in such positions. She is a child of immigrants. Her mother, an Indian woman born in Chennai, the same city where I was born, and her father, a native of Jamaica, met in the United States while both were pursuing higher education. They bonded while marching for Civil Rights, and their daughter exemplifies the very ideals her parents fought for, as a minority, and as a female.
Excitement abounds in Jamaican-Americans, Indian Americans, Black Indian Americans, females of all backgrounds. Karen Green, chair of the Florida Democratic Party’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, called her a “universal woman of our modern times.” She is a living example of that famous American dream. In a country where over a quarter of all citizens are either immigrants themselves or the child of immigrants, where racism is being fought and inclusivity demanded, and where women are continuing their fight for equality, she certainly seems to fit that description.
Read more about Kamala Harris.