Could Kamala Harris become the first black woman president of the U.S. in 2020?

Senator Kamala Harris speaks to reporters after announcing her candidacy for President of the United States
Senator Kamala Harris speaks to reporters after announcing her candidacy for President of the United States

When Hillary Clinton ran up against (now president) Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. election run, it was not only women in the United States who looked forward to winds of political change, but women all over the world too. 

It's safe to say that no one - women especially - will ever forget the night of 8 November 2016 when President Trump was sworn in and Hillary Clinton lost. 

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A quick Google search might even land you on a page with a video of a woman letting out a wail of agony as the announcement was made.

This was the night when the world thought they would be celebrating another first for America with a woman president after former president Barack Obama's previous historic win as the first black U.S. president, but alas. 

And now three years later, hope has somewhat been restored again since Kamala Harris became the eighth name to join the race for party nomination. 

According to The Guardian, the list of candidates vying to trump the current president of the U.S. might just be the most diverse one yet. It includes a "historic number of women, multiple African Americans, at least one Latino, a gay navy veteran, a Hindu – and a vegan." 

A candidate who therefore checks two of these "rare" boxes - an African American woman - is bound to cause much anticipation and excitement over the possibility of the holistic betterment of all citizens in America, especially minority groups.

As Board Director of the Human Rights Campaign, Jodie Patterson, wrote in the caption of her Instagram post celebrating senator Kamala's run; "... towards systemic equality, improved relationships between police and minority communities, and towards protections for marginalized groups. FOR THE PEOPLE. I’m here for this!??????‍??????"

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However, speaking of the protection of minority groups, Kamala Harris has reportedly had a "terrible record on criminal justice," according to a Twitter account dedicated to exposing the senator's alleged "awful record".

This account @Copmala, shared a thread of links reporting the candidate's social and criminal justice misdemeanors. 

The thread lists some of the following offences:

1. "Kamala Harris defends California's death penalty."

2. "In 2015, Kamala Harris sought to block gender reassignment surgery for a transgender prison inmate"

3. "Kamala Harris resisted efforts to make her office investigate police killings, to the frustration of many Californians of color"

4. "Kamala Harris went after Backpage—an online classified website used by sex workers—during an election year, putting [sex workers] back in harm's way, looking for work on the streets"

5. "Kamala Harris refused to back marijuana legalisation, while continuing jailing black men for it. Even her AG Republican opponent backed legalisation"

And so the thread continues. 

The dissemination of this kind of incriminating information during election seasons is not unique to Kamala Harris' run - we saw it with the Hillary Clinton email controversy and again with our very own Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma when allegations about her clandestine relations with the Guptas were brought up. 

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In the sentiment of neither negating nor minimising the above reports on Kamala Harris, it is also worth noting three points; the first being that whenever women put themselves out there to serve in positions of power, their credibility is often interrogated, undermined and their track record scrutinised to find even the most minuscule of stains.

The second is that an anonymous account dedicated to exposing a presidential candidate's "awful record" is a red flag. The use of GIFs of black women and 'black Twitter' colloquialisms to create the impression that an African American woman might be behind the account (plausible, but mostly unlikely) is also eyebrow-raising. 

And the third and final point is that no politician is a saint - there is general consensus around this. To project a saviour complex onto Kamala Harris simply because she is black and is a woman and should therefore be the democratic messiah that will save the U.S. from the "devil in the White House" is quite a surface-level approach to what we think this win might mean. 

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Since Harris announced her 2020 bid, transphobia has been the most enduring stain on her candidacy robe. Through her pro-LGBTQ rulings more recently, she seemed to be righting her wrongs, but that still remains a highly contested subject.

The elections are not yet at a point where we know who President Donald Trump's forerunner is, but should Sen. Kamala Harris become the forerunner and ultimately win, the U.S. (and consequently the rest of the world) can certainly take comfort in the fact that a black woman as president should make for a far better state of affairs than Trump's administration when it comes to civil rights.

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