With Kamala Harris as Biden’s Vice Presidential Pick, Our Time Is Now

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Culture & Conversation Politics

With Kamala Harris as Biden’s Vice Presidential Pick, Our Time Is Now

Alencia Johnson

Harris is the first Black woman at the top of a major party ticket. The first Asian American. The first graduate of a historically black college or university.

I remember the snowy Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2019 when I was in Park City, Utah, for work when I took a break to watch Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) kick off her presidential campaign. As a Black woman working in politics, I was in tears full of inspiration with what Black women could achieve. And even though I went on to work for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-CA) during the primary, that feeling of history and inspiration remains.

Throughout history, Black women have fought against all odds to demand our seat at the table, to fight for our communities as a whole, to imagine a world where every person’s experiences are validated and justified. We have led both women and Black men to the freedom line, only to be told to wait our turn because the intersection of our identity was too burdensome.

Our time is now.

Harris is the first Black woman at the top of a major party ticket. The first Asian American. The first member of a Black Greek letter organization. The first graduate of a historically black college or university.

Sex. Abortion. Parenthood. Power.

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ProgressivePunch rates her record as a senator as one of the most progressive. And according to FiveThirtyEight‘s tracking, in the 116th Congress she ranks 99th out of 100 for voting in line with Donald Trump—a “bad” record all of us should be proud of.

When it comes to reproductive freedom, Harris has an impeccable record. She’s protected funding for Planned Parenthood health centers, opposed the domestic “gag rule,” supported the protection of the Title X family planning program, and introduced Black maternal health legislation alongside reproductive justice leaders. During her presidential campaign, she proposed a plan that would require states with a history of violating Roe v. Wade to get approval from the Justice Department before enacting new abortion laws.

Black women are excited. Even us members of Delta Sigma Theta sorority share joy with our sister Greeks of Alpha Kappa Alpha, who are making history with one of their own. Regardless of the numerous well-qualified women any of us thought would have been the ideal running mate, the mutual consensus is this is a historic moment, and we will absolutely not tear down a Black woman with the misogynoir we face daily.

As Elizabeth Warren, my former boss, said, Kamala Harris is an inspiration to the many women who see ourselves within her, and most importantly, she is unafraid.

There is room for disagreement in the big tent of the Democratic Party. Harris challenged Biden during the primary, and he still chose her as the most qualified running mate; I hope this campaign continues to build upon the same sentiment. It will take a broad coalition in November, especially in the midst of unprecedented voter suppression efforts along with the COVID-19 pandemic. And with racial justice at the forefront of our nation’s politics, our nominees must work with those who have been catalysts for this movement—including organizations like the Working Families Party, the Movement for Black Lives, and Black Womxn For.

Because that’s the beautiful thing about democracy when it works—our elected officials work for us. The people. The people who demand universal child care. Medicare for All. Eradication of poverty. A Green New Deal. Criminal justice reform. Canceled student debt. And we hold them accountable.

And they are shook. Trump, Pence, Barr. All of ‘em. Shooketh.

As Warren, my former boss, said, Harris is an inspiration to the many women who see ourselves within her, and most importantly, she is unafraid. Like Warren, and everyone else who remembers Harris during the Barr hearings, we’ve got our popcorn ready for the vice presidential debate in October.

But, “Black women, please brace yourselves. It is about to get so ugly. We are so hated, and anytime we are centered, we get vitriol from all sides. Remember what dude said about Tubman just a couple of weeks ago? Get ready,” my sister friend Jamilah Lemieux noted on Twitter.

The misogynoir that will be unleashed is only just beginning. It is on us to push back against these attacks and ensure the protection every Black woman and girl deserves—especially one fighting to represent us at the highest ranks of our government.

For the political media covering this election—which is overwhelmingly white and male—it’s time to hand the pen and microphone over to the Black people and women in the newsroom. And if you have a Black woman on your team, you may want to put her on this beat because no one will be able to capture the dynamics or nuance of this historic campaign like her. No matter how much you try to learn about the Mecca that is Howard University, Alpha Kappa Alpha (or the Ks), and Beyoncé, your experience won’t rise to the moment within our culture that is required for this coverage. This is literally like a dream where Ida B. Wells could have covered Barbara Lee and Shirley Chisholm.

This Delta is looking forward to saying Madam Vice President.