By: N.L. Preston
HOUSTON- She was poised at all times, bull-doggish when needed and a fierce force to be reckoned with when it came to slashing good ole boys on Democratic debate stages, Kamala Harris gave women of color across the country hope that they could- possibly- one day burst through the greatest glass ceiling ever put in place in American politics.
Many in this generation forget that a torch had already been lit by the late, great Shirley Chisholm, who was the “first” of many for Black men and women in politics. In 1968, Chisholm became the first Black woman elected to the United States Congress. In 1972, she became the first Black candidate for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. Chisholm was also the first woman to appear in a United States presidential debate.
“I am not the candidate of Black America, although I am Black and proud,” Chisholm said when announcing her run. “I am not the candidate of the woman’s movement of this country, although I am a woman and I am equally proud of that.”
Like Chisholm, Harris was also a trailblazer in her career.
Harris, a lawyer, previously served as the 27th District Attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011 and 32nd Attorney General of California from 2011 until 2017. She is also the second black woman ever elected to the United States Senate, following in the footsteps of Carol Moseley Braun.
The Howard University alum captured the eyes of the nation when she grilled Brett Cavanaugh during his Supreme Court confirmation. And when it came to debates, she shined. She kept social media abuzz after ripping into other candidates, specifically Democratic front-runner and former Vice President Joe Biden, who was often visibly shaken after going head to head with Harris.
But as good as her public stage persona was, further exciting the new generation and the #BlackGirlMagic movement, some Black voters still refused to support her. Specifically, they said, they felt she was against the progress of our people.
“I don’t think she should have been in there [the White House] at all, she put too many Black folk in jail,” said Roy Malonson, owner of African American News and Issues. “Her past represents her thinking along with Biden and [Michael]Bloomberg. Biden with Anita Hill and Bloomberg with the ‘Stop and Search’; they can apologize and ask or forgiveness all they want, but they pulled an okie-doke.”
Malonson went on to say, “Blacks are the only ones who forgive. Black folks should have serious concerns. I had concerns with her hollering she’s Black and hollering for forgiveness. It goes back to the old scripture, Mark 11:25.”
That scripture quotes, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in Heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”
So, what in Harris’ past needs forgiveness? Critics say, just look at her record.
Political writer German Lopez cited issues in Harris’ self-proclaimed role as “progressive prosecutor.”
Lopez wrote, “a close examination of Harris’ record shows it’s filled with contradictions. She pushed for programs that helped people find jobs instead of putting them in prison, but also fought to keep people in prison even after they were proved innocent. She refused to pursue the death penalty against a man who killed a police officer, but also defended California’s death penalty system in court. She implemented training programs to address police officers’ racial biases, but also resisted calls to get her office to investigate certain police shootings.”
Despite the doubters, it appeared Harris had a lot going for her. She was bi-racial; half-Jamaican and half-Indian, and a woman, so she represented the minority population in multiple ways. And she is one tough cookie who does not back down, therefore being lauded a top-tier candidate equipped to take on President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, but that dream came to an end on Dec.3.
Visibly upset, but still with the heart of a champion, Harris announced that, due to a lack of funds, she would have to end her run for the White House.
“I’ve taken stock and looked at this from every angle, and over the last few days have come to one of the hardest decisions of my life. My campaign for president simply doesn’t have the financial resources we need to continue,” she told her supporters. “And as the campaign has gone on, it has become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete. In good faith, I can’t tell you, my supporters and volunteers, that I have a path forward if I don’t believe I do.”
During a time when Black women in America are depending more and more on champions to lead, did she fail us? Did we lose our footing? Are our dreams dying? What does this mean for us?
The answers are simple. Hell no, she did not fail us and we must keep doing what we do best: MOVING FORWARD!
“It is disappointing to see Senator Harris drop out of the presidential race. She often times, through her lived experiences, brought the issues impacting Black America to the forefront. I believe Black women will not let this disappointment deter us from challenging all of the presidential candidates to speak to our issues. The black women’s vote is key to victory for any candidate that wants to win,” said Melanie Campbell, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP) and National Convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable (BWR).
So, what’s next for Harris?
She returns to her seat in the Senate, and is soon expected to take part in an impeachment trial against Trump. In her true feisty fashion, when the president took a dig at her after dropping out of the race, she clapped back.
“Too bad. We will miss you Kamala!” Trump tweeted.
“Don’t worry, Mr. President, I’ll see you at your trial,” she replied in a #DropsMic moment, lighting up social media again.
People are also speculating that she could be chosen as a running mate for Biden, if he comes out on top.
Just as Chisholm did for Harris, Harris has done for the next generation of caramel- and mocha-skinned little girls looking up to her with admiration like the toddler who captured the heart of the nation after mistaking former First Lady Michelle Obama’s Smithsonian portrait for a queen.
And right here in Harris County, we have more than a few queens of our own: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, the iconic Black judges and many others, like Barbara Jordan, who paved the way.
Whether you agree with her or not, Harris is still a member of the black, beautiful and unapologetically bold women we can give a snap to – fighting for equality, fighting for a seat at the table and fighting for our rights just to BE.
Keep on pushing sistahs!