Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris recently dropped out of the race for financial reasons. There’s no shame in that, but there were two criticisms of Harris that were unusually shameful.
Vox Magazine’s guide to the 2020 presidential candidates stated Senator Harris has made history in every elected office she’s held. Harris was the first Black woman and the first Asian American to serve as a California senator…
Let’s stop right there.
Notice, Harris is described as Black and Asian. Her father is from Jamaica and her mother is from India. This description is textbook “identity politics,” which generates support around ethnic, racial, and gender solidarity.
But a group called ADOS (American Descendants of Slavery) deliberately pointed out the background of Harris’ parents. ADOS emphasized that Harris may be a woman of color and may identify with the Black American experience, but she does not descend from slavery. In textbook “identity politics” this distinction is insignificant, but ADOS has rejected “identity politics” for what they called “agenda politics.”
ADOS’ political goal is obtaining reparations for slavery.
Now, under Jim Crow, any person with a single ancestor from sub-Sahara Africa was classified as Black. This was known as the “one drop of Black blood” rule. This rule was a White supremist justification to disenfranchise. ADOS has incorporated this “one drop rule” to qualify and disqualify for reparations. In ADOS’ version of the “one drop rule,” Kamala Harris is not Black and cannot represent the Black community. Division is expected in politics, but dividing Blacks with the “one drop rule” over eligibility for reparations is shameful.
Vox Magazine’s guide to the 2020 presidential candidates continued; Harris served as California’s attorney general and as San Francisco’s district attorney.
Now, in the second presidential debate, Harris criticized former Vice President Joe Biden for working with segregationist lawmakers, but Biden said something unusual in his defense. Biden said, “I do not praise racists…If we want to have this campaign on who supports civil rights, whether I did or not, I’m happy to do that. I was a public defender. I didn’t become a prosecutor …”
Let’s stop right there.
Months before the debate Intercept Magazine asked: Can a prosecutor become president in the age of Black Lives Matter? The article stated, “Kamala Harris has a prosecutorial problem. She’s running for president as a progressive, but as attorney general of California, she criminalized truancy…overlooked the misconduct of her prosecutors… defended California’s choice to deny reassignment surgery to a transgender inmate…and appealed a federal judge’s holding that the death penalty was unconstitutional…The problem isn’t that Harris was an especially bad prosecutor. She made positive contributions as well, encouraging education and re-entry programs for ex-offenders, for instance. The problem, more precisely, is that she was ever a prosecutor at all. To become a prosecutor is to align oneself with a powerful and fundamentally biased system.”
The implication was that Harris became an enemy of Black people (and every other marginalized group) by becoming a prosecutor. And when Biden said he didn’t become a prosecutor like Harris, he was reinforcing this false “prosecutorial problem.”
This was unusual and shameful.
(J. Pharoah Doss is a contributor to the New Pittsburgh Courier.)
J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier