A big congratulations to Madam Kamala Harris on becoming the first black woman elected as vice president of the United States of America. Joe Biden has officially been elected as the next President of the United States, after defeating incumbent Donald Trump in the 2020 election.The historic election makes the 56-year old California senator the first woman, first Black person, and first South Asian American person to be elected vice president. 

As the highest-ranking woman ever elected in American government, Kamala Harris’ victory gives a ray of hope to women who were devastated by Hillary Clinton’s defeat four years ago. Harris has been a star in the making in Democratic politics for much of the last two decades,serving as San Francisco’s district attorney and California’s attorney general before becoming a U.S. senator. After Harris ended her own 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, Joe Baden picked her as his running mate. They will be sworn in as president and vice president on January 20, 2021. 

Even though during the campaign, President Donald Trump and his campaign team attempted to portray Harris as a far-left influence who would bring a radical agenda to the Biden administration. Trump’s campaign called her Biden’s ‘liberal handler’ and Trump accused Democrats of plotting to remove Biden and install Harris in the presidency if he won. As Biden was officially announced the winner of the election, Harris tweeted: ‘This election is about so much more than Joe Biden nor me. It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it.’We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started’. 

Kamala Harris was born in 1964 to two parents active in the civil rights movement. Shyamala Gopalan Harris,from India, and Donald Harris, from Jamaica, met at the University of California,Berkeley,then a hotbed of 1960s activism. Kamala’s parents divorced when She and her sister were girls,and Harris was raised by her late mother, whom she considers the most important influence in her life.Kamala is Sanskrit for ‘lotus flower,’ and Harris acknowledges to her Indian heritage throughout the campaign.Harris’ mother raised her daughters with the understanding the world would see them as black women, Harris has said, and that is how she describes herself today. 

Kamala attended Howard University, one of the nation’s historically black colleges and universities, She campaigned regularly at Hocus and tried to address the concerns of young black men and women eager for strong efforts to dismantle systemic racism. Harris is married to a Jewish man, Doug Hoff. Despite the excitement surrounding Harris, she and Biden face difficult challenges ahead, including deepening racial tensions in the U.S. in the wake of a pandemic and protests over racial injustice.

Her past work as a prosecutor has prompted scepticism among progressives and young voters who are looking to her to back sweeping institutional change over incremental reforms in policing, drug policy and more. According to Jessica Byrd, who leads the Movement for Black Lives´ Electoral Justice Project and The Front-line, a multiracial coalition effort to galvanise voters, said she plans to engage in the rigorous organising work needed to push Harris and Biden toward more progressive policies.’I am deeply believe in the power of black women´s leadership, even when all of our politics don´t align,’ Byrd said. ‘I want us to be committed to the idea that representation is exciting and it´s worthy of celebration and also that we have millions of black women who deserve a fair shot.’

Harris is the second black woman elected to the Senate. Her colleague, Senator Corey Booker, who is also black, said her very presence makes the institution ‘more accessible to more people’ and suggested she would accomplish the same with the vice presidency. Her ascension to vice president could usher more black women and people of colour into politics. In 244 years of United States of America politics,Harris is the first woman to serve in one of the two country’s two highest exalted offices. The key question is what might she do in the White House? Of course, she has a record on criminal justice that is troubling. But I am very hopeful that grass roots and national organisations will push her to the left. I hope she is ready to address the harm the criminal justice system has done to Black and Brown communities up close.  

I look forward to watching Kampala Harris walking out of the White House for the first time, so that I can show my children: look, there’s a Black woman as vice-president. But representation is only representation: we need actual results. Black women are going to rejoice that she’s won, and wish her all the joy she can handle, Harris isn’t going to get a honeymoon period, because she’s a Black woman in a racist and sexist country. Finally, we can all now heave a sign of relief that Trump’s presidency will soon come to an end. Four years of turmoil, nativism and racism are over in January. Joe Biden’s imminent administration heralds a turning point for the US and the world, promising greater international collaboration, consensus and reconciliation, a chance for the world to address its problems with civility, diplomacy and expertise. Congratulations Madame VP.

Author: Dr. Funmi Beckley