Kamala Harris, friend or foe?
Feature photo retrieved from AP Photo/Tony Avelar.
After announcing a bid for the White House, Senator Kamala Harris has been at the center of controversy. Many are speculating whether she is working towards change or attempting to use the Black community as a stepping stone to becoming the Democratic presidential nominee.
In an interview with “The Breakfast Club” radio show on Feb. 11, 2019, Harris sat down to discuss why she is running for president. She said she wants to work towards reforming the criminal justice system.
However, when she was asked about a meme poking fun at her, saying that she broke the state record for incarcerated Black men, her response was quite vague. Harris served as the 32nd Attorney General of California from 2011 to 2017 before she was elected as the senator in the 2016 Senate elections. During those years, almost 439,000 Black men were arrested on felony charges in California. Also, during the same time period, over 817,000 white men were arrested for similar reasons in California. She did say that the meme was inaccurate, but she did not correct or justify her actions while working in California as district attorney and attorney general.
Harris said during the interview that she is proposing an initiative that will help lift people out of poverty. On Harris’ presidential campaign website, her plans are spelled out.
“Legislation to provide sweeping tax cuts for the middle class, address the high cost of rent, raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, make higher education tuition-free.”
She emphasized that her legislations will not be a handout, but a lending hand for people who need it. This emphasis is something to note because the Black community has historically been accused of abusing government assistance programs. During a campaign speech in 1976, given by former President Ronald Reagan, the “welfare queen” was mentioned, which was a false persona made up by Reagan that would paint Black people as lazy and always searching for government handouts.
The legislations mentioned are not the sole focus of her efforts. She also said that her efforts will also be concentrated on emphasizing the importance of HBCUs, the inequities Black communities face and Black women’s struggles in public health.
All of the points Harris proposed during the interview seem to put her in a position that would make people, mainly Black voters, love her. So, why are so many people anti-Kamala Harris?
There are many misconceptions about Harris’ image. Fox News reported that Harris said, during “The Breakfast Club” interview, she would smoke in college while listening to Snoop Dogg and Tupac’s music. But how could this be true if Snoop Dogg and Tupac’s debut albums came out several years after Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986?
The hosts of the morning show quickly defended Harris on MSNBC, stating that she was answering two separate questions at once, and Fox News mistook what she said. Fox News is notorious for spewing very conservative views and in some instances news that is biased against minority groups.
Harris was asked about why she thinks so many people believe she is trying to win over Black voters, rather than actually wanting to work towards change for Black people in the United States.
Her answer: “They don’t know me.... and I think some folks have a limited vision of who we are as Black people.”
Harris’ “Blackness” is constantly being called into question, to which she cites Barack Obama’s campaign and presidency as another example of this ignorance. She was even asked why she married a white man. During the interview, Charalangene the God referenced a meme of Harris, which compared her to Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who identifies as Black.
Harris has been seen as tough on crime, which some people are not in favor of. According to an article in the New York Times, in 2014, when a federal judge in California ruled that the death penalty was “unconstitutional,” Harris appealed the decision, stating that the death penalty, “undermines important protections that our courts provide to defendants.”
Harris believes that if someone commits a crime, no matter what their race, they should be punished accordingly. Charlamagne tha God said during the interview with Harris that some people think that because Harris is Black she should turn a blind eye to Black offenders.
Throughout Harris’ career, her decisions have been called into question. Such as when she opposed a bill in 2015 that would require her office to investigate shootings involving police officers harming or killing Black people, according to an article in the New York Times.
Ultimately people will believe what they want. Some might dislike Harris because they think she isn’t “down enough” or because she has stricter views on the jail system. Some might automatically love Harris because she went to an HBCU, is in a Black sorority and her parents were civil rights activists.
But, one thing is for sure, and that is that people should stay informed and not believe everything they see and hear. Harris has received mixed opinions from the Black community, but are the reasons truly justifiable?