Kamala Harris Makes History
Updated: Sep 24
First Black & South Asian woman on a major party’s presidential ticket
During these unprecedented pandemic times, Kamala Harris stands as a beacon of hope for both Asian Americans and African Americans.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate on August 12; she is the first African American and South Asian American to receive this distinction.
This selection also marks a revolutionary moment for women. Only two other women have been nominated as vice-presidential candidates: Sarah Palin by the Republican party in 2008 and Geraldine Ferraro by the Democrats in 1984. Neither made it to the White House.
As the former California attorney general, Harris has been urging for police reform amid nationwide anti-racism protests, campaigning against truancy, and going against big banks and mortgage lenders on improperly foreclosing on borrowers.
Asian Avenue Magazine asked local community members in Denver about their reaction to Joe Biden’s running mate.
“Her VP nomination speech blew me and others in my circle away,” said Sylvia Smith Brown, who is both Black and Japanese. “I learned so much about her.”
While others couldn’t stop talking about the monumental decision of Joe Biden.
“As a mixed race, middle-class Black man, born and raised in the United States, I am very pleased to hear about Joe Biden’s decision to choose Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential running mate, along with most of my family members,” said Londell Jackson, a resident of Denver.
Others echoed the same sentiment. “To see a woman, identify as both Black and Asian is historic,” said Riyaz Gayasaddin, a member of the Denver Asian American Pacific Islander Commission (DAAPIC). “It resonates with me a lot.”
However, other community members are overly cautious. “It’s really good to see representation for the first time, promising hope,” said Farman Pirzada of Denver. “This is going to change things up, but the older members of my family are just ‘wait-and-see’ because the last election didn’t go as well.”
Someone like me
Jackson, like many other Black men, has faced discrimination multiple times in his life. He is overjoyed at seeing someone else in a higher position to “fight the fight.”
“Excited by this turn events, we see her as a Black woman, who has fought our fight. We see her as a mixed-race woman, who has experienced both acceptance and rejection by the hands of our families and communities of naissance,” said Jackson, an education and workforce development professional in Denver. “I see her as someone who will not succumb to the ridiculousness, which is pervasive in the swamp we call our nation’s capital.”
In fact, Gayasaddin, whose parents are from south India, expressed excitement learning more about Kamala during the DNC as she was spotlighted as a professional and her story of being an immigrant child. “It has energized me after watching the convention,” he said.
Influencing friends and family
Pirzada, who participates as an active member of DAAPIC, encourages his friends and family to have the difficult conversations about voting. “This is the time. This is the election that is going to count. It’s very important to vote.”
Despite critics of Kamala, Gayasaddin respects her experience and history with fighting for social justice. “I appreciate her boldness and fearlessness,” said Gayasaddin, adding that she doesn’t back down during committee hearings.
While the easiest way to support this campaign is through monetary donations, Gayasaddin is motivated to do more than just merely voting. “I do want to be involved because I know how important this election will be,” said Gayasaddin, who is thinking about participating in text banking. He admits he has never volunteered for a campaign before, but he wants to make sure to tell everyone to vote and vote early.
Both Pirzada and Brown will donate to the campaign because volunteering is not feasible within their busy, working lives.
“I will support this Democratic ticket as I have many others: with my voice and my actions,” said Jackson, who has worked in nonprofit for years. “I do not believe simply because Kamala has received this nomination that the election is signed, sealed, and delivered. I believe the exact opposite.”
Jackson predicts a hard battle over the next few months before November. “I believe folks on the other side of the aisle are going to fight harder than ever to keep her out of the office because she embodies two things they despise most: a black person and a woman.”
Kamala, who is 55 years old, is biracial with immigrant parents. Her mother is Indian and her father is Jamaican. For more information, visit joebiden.com.
Written By Mary Jenverre Schultz