- Born to an Indian mother and Jamaican father, Kamala Harris has changed the course of history and flung open the door for other women to follow.
- It's common knowledge that women who look like Kamala are often undervalued and marginalised.
- So, when one manages to break barriers to become the right-hand man to the president of one of the most powerful nations in the world, a standing ovation seems not to be enough of a gesture to express the thrill of women across borderlines.
"We did it. We did it, Joe." Kamala Harris' phone call with Joe Biden started to trend on social media when it was confirmed that the Democrats had won the US election. In her signature laugh, Kamala congratulated her running mate and US president-elect. And, indeed, they did it. She did it, for all black women who were ever made to believe they were not enough.
We did it, @JoeBiden. pic.twitter.com/oCgeylsjB4— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 7, 2020
Kamala is black, and hers was no silver-platter kind of life, despite having well-educated parents. Just as most black people can attest, no level of success or education shields you from the harsh realities of blackness.
It's reported that early in her childhood, after her parents divorced, when the vice-president-elect and her sister would visit their father, other children in the neighbourhood were not allowed to play with them because they were black.
Despite this, she graduated with a political science and economics degree from Howard University, as well as a law degree from Hastings College and became an attorney.Kamala Harris and Joe Biden arrive to deliver remarks at the Alexis Dupont High School on 12 August 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Drew Angerer/ Getty Images)
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Kamala has had many firsts before becoming vice-president-elect of the US, such as being the first female and the first African American to be California's attorney-general. She was also the second black woman ever elected as a US senator.
Kamala has had setbacks in the run-up to the elections, such as when she sought the Democratic presidential nomination, only to withdraw when her campaign started to fade in momentum.
After she was named as Joe Biden's running mate, her campaign trail was not tiled in rose petals, as she endured sexist and racist remarks from many naysayers, including Donald Trump who called her "this monster" on at least two occasions, and insisted she was "totally unlikeable".
The New York Times reports that there was even a member of the Trump campaign's advisory board who called her an "insufferable lying b****".
.@JoeBiden knows that no matter where we come from or where we live, no matter our race or gender, background or faith; no matter how we identify or who we love; no matter the language your grandmother speaks—what we have in common is so much stronger than what divides us.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) November 3, 2020
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Her legitimacy as Joe Biden's running mate was also clouded in controversy with some questioning if she was even black or born in the US, and numerous prominent people mispronouncing her name. Yet, she remained in the running and won. Much as one would want to say the race was fair, it wasn't – it had far more extraordinary odds pitted against Kamala.
However, as she stated in a tweet, "This election is about so much more than Joe Biden or me." It's a moment in history that will help change the stereotypes and narratives that little girls will encounter about themselves as they grow up in a world that now understands that any women - even if she's black - can be a leader of a powerful nation.
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This US election is one that boldly pronounces: Women (particularly WOC) do not only deserve a seat at the table; they've earned it.
And none of it is an overnight success. It took decades of past generations lending their voices and lives to changing the narrative. During her Democratic National Convention acceptance speech in August, Kamala attested to this.
She spoke of how the influence of those who'd dedicated their lives to securing equality had affected her life, saying: "That I am here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me. Women and men who believed so fiercely in the promise of equality, liberty, and justice for all."
And as fate would have it, future women leaders will echo her words referring to her.
This win is far more than a foot in the door at the White House for one black woman, it's the door (and windows) of the White House, and any other house that matters, flung open for black women to enter.
SOURCES: Britannica, The Washington Post, CNN, The New York Times
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