The erasure of black women is real. Let's talk about Kamala Harris.
Editor’s note: today, we have an important post from a member of our community. Those who have been engaged in the comment section know ‘Master of My Universe’. We are proud to provide this perspective on what is a critical issue in the Democratic primary: the voice, the power, and the erasure of black women. - Spandan Chakrabarti.
Kamala Devi Harris is an accomplished black woman. She is a United States Senator, a former District Attorney and a former Attorney General for the state of California and now a presidential candidate. Kamala Harris is not the first black woman ever to run for president, but she is the first woman of color to have a decent shot at the Oval Office. Simply put, her candidacy is historic!
Yet, it is being erased in front of our very eyes.
Earlier in the year, Harris received praise in the media for asking the right questions regarding Trump's cabinet picks, in particular, Attorney General William Barr. As a former attorney general for California and a former district attorney for San Francisco, she knew the right questions to ask William Barr. She asked Barr a simple question “Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested you open an investigation into anyone?” Barr could not give a direct answer. The exchange, which was tweeted by CSPAN, received over 6 million views.
As soon as people began to notice that Harris was gaining momentum, a campaign of negativity started in the press to undermine her candidacy, especially among black men. We saw the misogynistic accusations of sleeping her way to the top with a former mayor of San Francisco, the insidious attack on her blackness because she is married to a white man, and let's not forget the unending murmur of “she’s a cop!” As a black woman, I can tell you that some brothers were not going to back her whether she was married to a white man or not. Kamala is an educated, beautiful and smart black woman. Some find that threatening, and reason enough not to vote for her. They consider her to be out of their league.
Earlier this year, Jason Johnson of TheRoot.com claimed that “Kamala has a black man problem” on AM Joy. I disagree. I think that some black men - especially on television - have a Kamala Harris problem.
Here is the thing. Democratic Senator and presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is also a former prosecutor, and no one is going around talking about how Klobuchar has a “black man problem.” Klobuchar’s background in law enforcement is seen as a positive. Not so for Harris. A not-so-subtle subtext has emerged that a black woman enforcing the law, in and of itself, is a disqualifier, and that a black woman should not become a prosecutor because she may have to convict a black man. We cannot discount the horrible things that have happened to people of color in this society under a criminal justice system in sore need of massive reform. But Kamala Harris did not simply prosecute crimes. She was a pioneer among prosecutors of any background in spearheading and executing programs to help correct the systemic injustice the marginalized face in our criminal justice system - beginning with giving children a better shot.
Russian bots are having a field day with the “Kamala is a cop” meme, and the media continues to erase Kamala while elevating three white men and one white woman of whom only one has limited support among the African American community. Pete Buttigieg has a South Bend problem, but how often do you hear that being spoken about in the press?
Elizabeth Warren talks a good game about the inclusion of people of color. Warren goes after Facebook and Wall Street and is praised. Kamala Harris asked Warren to help her in her quest to hold Twitter accountable for Trump’s use of the platform to denigrate women of color and inspire literal public safety threats (like the terrorist attack in El Paso), and Warren said No. The media went gaga over Warren and ridiculed Harris - who raised an urgent public safety concern - for what it dubbed as a “terms of service” issue. That begs the question, do liberal white women actually support women of color other than with talking points? It could be assumed that since Warren was willing to go after Facebook that she would also go after Twitter. I guess we all know what ‘assume’ stands for.
Bernie Sanders has not done well with black voters. This happened in 2016 and is happening in 2019. Yes, I know he marched with Dr. Martin Luther King! Sanders had a heart attack (not to mention he ran into a shower door) which in most cases would raise serious concerns about the physical fitness for a job known to take massive physical tolls of those who hold it. Yet most of the press has ignored this issue. Sanders revamped his campaign under the radar and yet, no one called for him to drop out of the race. Harris reorganizes her campaign and the wailing from the pundits writing off her candidacy is deafening!
When Harris was in fourth place in national polls, the media rarely mentioned her. Mayor Pete jumps a few points ahead of Harris and he is now receiving as much attention as Warren and Biden. I know there are some that will say that she is not running a good campaign. P-45 never ran a good campaign and the media tripped over itself to keep his flamethrowing alive with gasoline and oxygen of unending coverage. Apparently, running a good campaign only matters if you are a black woman!
Earlier in the year, Harris out-raised Mayor Pete but somehow the press found a way to twist out a win for Mayor Pete while erasing Harris’s early strength. Many blamed Harris’s drop in the polls as backlash for confronting Joe Biden about busing in an early Democratic debate. Pardon me. I thought this is a primary where you draw contrasts with your opponents, especially on an issue of equal justice to the black community, and an issue that affects someone as personally as busing had Harris. Being Vice President to one of the most popular presidents in recent history does not give you a pass on earning the black vote.
Women of color are paying attention to how Harris is being treated. We empathize with her. Black people are used to being undervalued, underestimated and marginalized. The erasure of Kamla Harris is real, it is emblematic of erasure of black women at large, and as a black woman, this mistreatment of one of the brightest stars in the race is unacceptable.
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