Joe Biden chose Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) to be his VP.
This is a first.
With her nomination, Harris will be the first Black woman and the first person of South Asian descent to be on a major political party’s presidential ticket. Before her rise to national recognition, Ms. Harris was the first Black woman to hold the office of San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general.
Tell me about her.
Kamala (pronounced “comma-la”) grew up in Oakland, CA, and was the daughter of immigrants and civil rights activists. She garnered national attention from her tough questioning of both Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions in their confirmation hearings and later went on to run for president in 2020 before ending her campaign in December of 2019.
What are people saying?
Opinions on Harris’s vice-presidential nomination vary greatly. Some are ecstatic to see a woman of color elevated to such a high role in our government, especially at a time when race and racial justice are at the forefront of the American psyche. Others are much more hesitant to embrace her because of her past. As a prosecutor in California, many of her policies and actions were in direct opposition to calls for criminal justice reform. She defended the death penalty, didn’t support a bill that would have required her office to investigate fatal police shootings, didn’t support an act that would reduce some felonies to misdemeanors, and more. She was also responsible for putting many Black people in jail, something that doesn’t sit right with many amidst calls for police abolition and criminal justice reform.
Her stances may be changing, though.
As protests against racism and police brutality have swept the nation, Kamala has taken steps to push for police reform. She has vowed to end mass incarceration, cash bail, and the death penalty, and she pushed to make lynching a federal crime. She also signed onto the 2017 Medicare for All bill (although she wants to maintain a private option) and has advocated for women’s reproductive rights. She has also defended California’s landmark climate law. However, for many, these concessions are not enough as more and more people are demanding not reform but the abolition of the current criminal justice system and complete adherence to a Green New Deal.
What’s the bottom line?
Only time will tell how people will respond to a Biden/Harris administration, but many people are sharing a sense of celebration that a Black and South Asian woman has been elevated to such a place of power in the U.S. while at the same time holding both accountable to the demands of the people at large. The two made their first appearance together this week, and on everyone’s radar is the vice-presidential debate between Harris and Vice President Mike Pence in October.