14 Aug Women of Color React to Kamala Harris VP Nomination With Enthusiasm, Reluctance
Reporting by Maria Bernal
Editor’s Note: Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Tuesday named Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. The news has generated a range of reactions, including excitement over the historic nature of a Black and South Asian woman being chosen, as well as concerns over her moderate stance and record as a prosecutor. So Richmond Pulse asked women of color to weigh in. Their comments have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
“I was just so happy. I felt like this was the happiest news I’ve heard all year. It was so uplifting. I have been following her as she was campaigning for president. I had bought Kamala 2020 for President pins, and I was so excited to hear she was running for president. Super sad when it didn’t work out, but this was definitely the best news of the year that she is possibly going to be the next vice president.
“As a biracial woman of color, I relate to her so much. Her father’s Jamaican and her mom is Indian. Both her parents are immigrants. My mom was born and raised in Malaysia, but her ethnic background is Sri Lankan. My dad is African American, and we have some Jamaican background. Also, Kamala and I have the same middle name, Devi, which means goddess in Hindu. So, for the longest time, I knew she was someone who looked like me, had similar background as me. That always caught my attention. She was a leader that I could always look up to and be inspired by — not only because of random racial connections but [because] she represents immigrants, she represents women, Black people, Brown people. I follow her work on DACA, the recent anti-lynching, the policing act, so she really fights for minorities. [It’s] so exciting to see someone who believes in minorities, who believes minority problems need to be addressed.”
— Jasmin Taylor, 29, Black and South Asian former San Francisco resident
“It’s a [historic] time to witness her getting the nomination, and it was [historic] to watch her run for president. She’s a great political leader. I don’t agree with her values. There’s a lot I wish she could do better. Our responsibility as a people is to work with her and push her in the direction of meeting folks where their values are. It’s an amazing moment to witness. We weren’t going to have a perfect candidate, but she’s pretty close and a very accomplished woman. We’re fortunate to be able to call her a nominee.
“The good part is that she has Bay Area knowledge. She’s from California, [so] she understands our needs. Being able to have a candidate that we can say to, ‘You’re from here. You’re from this community. Acknowledge our unique needs and build policies around that,’ is a good thing. But our work is far from done. We have to continue to push and organize. But it is her responsibility to open up once it comes to policy and accept people with more progressive opinions to inform what is going to realistically benefit us all.”
— Ada Recinos, former Richmond City Council member
“First, we need to look at the national politics. The Democratic National Convention and Joe Biden really played up this idea of tokenism, of performative action, just by announcing they would be choosing a woman. They were going to use that card for political gain, and that’s problematic for any official to use women as a pawn to galvanize a certain segment of voters.
“In the wake of George Floyd, the countless people [who] have been killed by police, having a prior prosecutor — someone that labels herself a progressive prosecutor — is very problematic for the racial justice, social justice movement that is happening right now, because, historically, Kamala’s scorecard isn’t as progressive as she makes it sound. She rose to the top by being the best at her job. And her job was to prosecute Black and Brown [people], to prosecute police officers that killed Black and Brown [people]. When it was time to prosecute officers, she didn’t. But when it was time to lock up Black and Brown [people], she has.”
— Marisol Cantú, 32, Richmond resident and activist
“I think she’s a way to get more voters because Biden knows he keeps saying reckless stuff such as, ‘You’re not Black if you don’t vote for me.’ Adding a Black woman as a VP would push this further. People who aren’t interested or involved in politics recognize names and familiarity, so putting Harris, someone people will recognize, will push them to vote for Biden and Harris.
“They slandered each other during debates, and now, they’ve teamed up. I wasn’t surprised Biden was saying he wanted a woman, specifically a Black woman, as VP. [He] and Kamala share similar views as moderates.
“This would be my first time voting, and I’m salty, but I’ll deal. It’s make me upset because it’s accepting whatever garbage the two-party system pushes out, but I don’t know if this country can take another four years of Trump or another Supreme Court justice with history of committing sexual harassment.
“I couldn’t care less where she was an [alumna]. She’s a cop. I don’t care. For some people, it’s aspiring and helps their goals I don’t want to be associated with her. If I’m repping an [alum], it’s Thurgood Marshall.”
— Kimyatta Newby, 18, future student at Howard University, Harris’ alma mater
“Will Black men vote for the Biden-Harris ticket? That’s a real question we need to ask ourselves. I know we’re going to target Black women voters and get Black women out to vote. The rhetoric is that Black women are going to get their families and children out to vote. But will Black men vote for the Biden-Harris ticket, not Donald Trump? I hope that along the campaign trail, the Biden-Harris ticket starts to talk to Black men about what Black men, young and old, need to see as far as economic equality, jobs, criminal justice reform, education and community development, violence in the community. I hope they have a goal to target Black men. This is coming from a Black woman. I hope they do.
“Since they announced this ticket, I haven’t heard particularly great things coming from the ground, from Black men. And I think it’s because what people said when Harris was identified was, ‘We gotta get Black women out to vote.’ That dismisses any political power and issues that might be top of mind for Black men in this country. [That matters] with all the issues that Black men face — of course, women are incarcerated; I’m a formerly incarcerated woman, but Black men are incarcerated at higher rates. Criminalized at higher rates. Killed by police violence at higher rates.
“I don’t want Black men and Black women to be divided during this election time. I hope this Biden-Harris ticket can bring Black men and Black women together so that we don’t lose any votes to the Trump administration as it promotes economic equity to Black men, and it sounds a lot better because the Biden-Harris ticket isn’t even speaking to Black men.
“We have to get out and vote. Folks who say they are not going to vote need to get out and vote — not for Biden, not for Harris, but for themselves. For their families. For the next generation. Just the next four years, imagine all the possibilities of transformative justice and change that can happen. Not as a result of just these two individuals, but what we could do politically if we all stood together on this. Look, the Republicans, their strategy is to back their top candidate, so we have to get behind our values and principles around democracy. Vote for yourself. Vote for your community. Vote for your family. Vote to save your lives.
“I think we can win with Kamala Harris if we can somehow reconcile her record. Don’t think of her running as an individual, but think of her as part of a ticket that can get Donald Trump out of office. I’m voting for the Biden-Harris ticket, not because I particularly like Kamala Harris, not because I’m particularly excited about Biden but because I want to beat Donald Trump, and I want to have people in office [who] will at least meet with the community and talk out ideas and not feel like we are completely ignored by the White House.”
— Tamisha Walker, Antioch City Council candidate
“I’m a radical liberal type. And the world cannot stand one second longer of Trump. He’s poison, fuel on the fire of everything that’s problematic with this country.
“I’m not a Kamala devotee. I remember her policies that victimized parents in need of support.
“And I’m not so dumb and self-centered to be unable to see the strengths this centralist Black-identifying woman of Indian descent can bring this country and this ticket.
“I am hopeful that she can help unseat Trump and that she will be strong enough and smart enough to methodically uproot the mess he left behind.
“People have to come before ideologies. It’s time to ally and fight.”
— Doria Robinson, community leader