Will America openly accept change, or will a long history of sexism and racism block Kamala’s quest for change?
When Kamala Harris stood in front of the United States of America on Wednesday morning to formally take the oath of office, reality hit. She was not any ordinary Vice-President swearing into office. [She] is a woman. [She] is a Black woman. [She] is a South Asian woman. [She] is the first female of color to serve as the second-highest in command in American history.
That comes with a price, and a price she’s willing to pay.
“We were all told that you had to be smarter or run faster or jump higher or be better than anybody else around you to stay in the game. That was a lesson from early, early on.”
This statement has also been used for black people in general, but it’s even more true when looking specifically at black women. They have touched everything since America’s inception. Black women have lent a helping hand and oftentimes been the driving force behind change in America, yet they haven’t received their commendation for their pioneer-like contributions.
Black women are the lone group of people in America who are so severely misunderstood and under appreciated. The average white man can’t relate to Black women, and neither can the average Asian or Latino man. White, Asian, and Latina women share similarities from a physiological standpoint but often fall short overall because they often don’t understand and can’t relate to Black women. Black men have the most in common with Black women because of the obvious; they’re black and Black women raised them. The hurdle for many Black men when dealing with Black women of power is their insecurity of the thought of their masculinity being overshadowed…which is the biggest hurdle for white men, too.
Vice-President Harris knows this and has traversed through corporate America, the justice system, and politics in a commanding way. How was she able to do so? Well, Poet Taylor, a community “love liaison,” stated that Harris’s best attribute is her “code-switching.” Code-switching is the ability to walk into a room, analyze it, and quickly make cultural and rhetorical adjustments. This is common practice for many diverse Black people, but Harris mastered it to a level that few have, all the way to the White House.
Regardless of her code-switching, will Harris be accepted and respected at the second-highest level of American politics? Or will there always be a double-standard blocking her way?
Will the conversation of her incarceration of Blacks and Hispanics during her tenure as the District Attorney General of San Francisco more than a decade ago be the critique of her over the next four years? Or will we chalk that up as a mark on her career and highlight the anti-truancy program that she instituted, which kept struggling parents out of jail and provided them with job placement and transportation programs as well as healthcare?
Will we give her credit for creating a program in favor of non-violent drug offenders, giving them a chance to do community service, go to school, get job training, thus giving them a chance to become productive members of society?
Speaking of hidden figures, that plan was used as the blueprint for America’s national plan on non-violent drug offenders today.
On Harris’s watch as attorney general, the California Department of Justice in 2015 became the country’s first statewide agency to institute a body camera program, which is now standard across most American states.
Harris also co-signed the Marijuana Justice Act that has been blocked by republicans. That would legalize marijuana at the federal level and expunge the records of those incarcerated due to marijuana charges.
Will America see her as the Vice-President of the United States of America and the first Black woman to hold that position? Or will they miss out on the insight and change that she can provide because of their preconceived thoughts of one or two of her past actions 10-plus years ago?
“When you look at the hidden figures in America, you will find a Black woman at every major intricate part of change and then in all the spaces people weren’t even paying attention to.”Kim Greenfield Alfonso
Harris is a hidden figure that became America’s most powerful woman, and that’s how the history books will tell it. It’s up to the country to stop being overly critical of women. It’s up to the country to stop being overly critical of Black people. And in this instance, it’s up to the country to stop holding Black women to an impossible standard when they’d sweep the dirty laundry of a white man, and better yet, white politician under the rug. Kamala deserves a fair chance to help improve this country.
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