How do the Indian diaspora feel about Kamala Harris?
Despite her Indian heritage, the Vice President elect hasn’t been celebrated within the Indian community as much as one might expect
The 2020 presidential election result isn’t the progressive shift for America that many may assume or hope it will be. It was not a watershed moment for American attitudes, tolerance, altruism and global outlook. Rather, it provided an opportunity for a very necessary reset from four years of Trump and his toxic, unstatesmenlike conduct and his incendiary, white supremacist rhetoric.
However, Vice President elect Kamala Harris does represent a historic moment for America. A woman VP, and a woman of colour at that, is unprecedented. Putting aside politics for one moment, the optics of her being elected represents a moment akin to the election of Barack Obama as the first black president. It’s a huge moment for people of colour to see someone in their image become the highest ranking woman in US history. Although that isn’t to suggest we blindly endorse anyone purely on the basis of their ethnicity.
When I recall the election of Barack Obama in 2008, there was a global euphoria. A black man was the President of the United States. For people of colour, and specifically black people, this was the shattering of a glass ceiling that we once thought unthinkable.
You see, as a person of colour, there’s often a sense of pride when you see people in your image occupy spaces that systemic racism has excluded you from. As a black person living in the UK, the response to Obama was no different. Moreover, unlike his successor, his conduct as president was a welcome advertisement for black people against a backdrop of negative stereotyping born of systemic racism.
When Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate, I thought we would see the same reaction. Not only is Harris a woman of colour but she is of black and Indian descent. As a contributor for the Blindian Project, and with my wife as a woman of Indian descent, my interest in this was admittedly both piqued and personal.
For the black community, and specifically the Jamaican diaspora, Harris’ heritage appeared to be celebrated from the outset…