Kamala Harris has a great opportunity to energize the immigrant and Black voting blocs
FELICIA J. PERSAUD | 8/20/2020, midnight
In the past week, a lot has been written about Joe Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate for the November 2020 elections. From the fact that she is the first Black woman ever selected for the post to the fact that she is a daughter of first-generation immigrants from India and the Caribbean island of Jamaica.
These facts make it a more important job for Harris in 2020—one she should welcome and do enthusiastically without trying to downplay her identity as simply “American.”
The reality is she ticks many boxes, and in the era of Black Lives Matter, there is no denying that these are the factors that helped her beat out the competition and secure the job.
She is a woman, a person of color with South Asian, African and Caribbean roots, a Black American, and most of all a second-generation immigrant.
The saying “to whom much is given, much is required” is one which now applies to Harris beyond all the hoopla, hype and ceremonial significance of her selection last week.
Now is the time for Harris to get to work, energizing the Black and immigrant voting blocs with fresh vision and policy changes on issues that affect them.
Issues that we as a community and voting bloc have too long suffered under the burden of as we are again and again taken for granted by the Democratic Party.
Harris has a personal responsibility to move away from the status quo of the Democratic Party and push for an agenda that matches the moment in which we find ourselves—a pandemic moment that requires monumental changes in America.
This is the vision and hope that she must sell as Joe Biden’s running mate in the coming weeks, as we count down to Nov. 3, 2020, in order to mobilize a despondent, frustrated and battered immigrant and Black voting bloc to get out and vote.
It is not enough for Harris to toe the line and continue the establishment agenda of simply bashing Donald Trump and his handling of the pandemic, the economy, immigration and everything else he has fudged up since 2017.
As the daughter of Jamaican immigrant Dr. Donald Harris and the late Indian immigrant Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, civil rights student protestors and supporters of the 1960s, Harris has the responsibility to energize the base, to push an immigration agenda that reverses the draconian policies of this administration by giving Dreamers citizenship once and for all; promising to end the policy that has kept children kidnapped and jailed and away from their parents; and ensuring undocumented immigrants can get on a pathway to some form of legalization once and for all.
She also has the responsibility to speak up for the Black community at a time when our civil rights are under threat again in this country. From economic to social to police and marijuana reform, Harris can and must ensure she is THE voice for the immigrant and Black voters in America.
It is the only way to get this important swing bloc of voters—Hispanic, Caribbean, Asian and Black—energized and out to the polls. As the daughter of immigrants and as a little Black girl who grew up to become a Black woman who has undoubtedly faced discrimination firsthand while seeing the xenophobia meted out to her mother because of her accent, she has an added responsibility to do this.
The question now is will she?
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.