11 Things You Need to Know About US Vice President Kamala Harris
Kamala Harris - A woman of many firsts
A woman of substance, origin, and plenty of path-breaking firsts, Kamala Harris became the Vice President of the United States of America. Formerly a US senator, the 58-year-old is the first woman, first black woman, and first woman of Indian origin to secure a seat in the Oval Office. Renowned as "Female Obama," after Joe Biden won elections against his political counterpart Donald Trump, he chose Harris to be his running mate. Let's decode the life of 'Madam Vice President.'
1. She is only 'American'
Born to two immigrant parents, cancer researcher Shyamala Gopalan, and economics professor Donald J. Harris, she was born in Oakland, California. Although she's of mixed ethnicity - half Indian and half Jamaican, she only identifies herself as a "Proud American." However, growing up, she was exposed to both cultures, attending both a Black Baptist church and visiting a Hindu temple. Her parents met during their graduate studies at Berkeley, but soon after Harris was born, they got divorced, per Vogue.
2. Her mother consciously chose her name to represent Feminism
The name of the US Vice President was a conscious choice her mother Shyamala made, and it has "feminism" hidden in its meaning. Apparently, Kamala means Lotus in Sanskrit- and amazingly, it is also another name for the Hindu Goddess Lakshmi. This specific goddess is associated with prosperity, luck, and beauty. Her middle name, Devi, also represents the power of women as this gender-specific name means anything, "heavenly, divine, and excellence."
3. She frequently visited India as a child
Having Indian roots, Harris made frequent visits to India as a child. Her maternal grandparents encouraged her to pursue a civil service role as an adult. Her grandfather, PV Gopalan, was one of her "favorite people in the world," who had fought for Indian Independence as a high-ranking government official. Her grandmother, Rajam Gopalan, too, served the rural areas by teaching impoverished communities about birth control. Her grandparents were indeed a driving force In her desire to serve, per the Los Angeles Times.
4. She has been interested in Civil Rights since her youth
Coincidentally, Harris' parents met through the civil rights movement at Berkley. She and her sister Maya attended marches throughout their childhood with their parents. She was raised by her mother after her parents divorced when she was seven. Harris went to Thousand Oaks Elementary School in her first year, which was racially integrated a year before. "My mother understood very well that she was raising two Black daughters," she wrote In her 2019 autobiography The Truths We Hold.
5. She attended an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities)
Although her schooling was in Montreal, Harris returned to the US to earn her bachelor's degree in political science and economics from Howard University in Washington, DC. And it was part of the country's network of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. She shared her experience at HBCU, "There's something special about the investment that an HBCU places in its students," reported Essence. "It's about the nurturing. It's about refining- It's about all that goes into making someone transition from being a child into an adult."
6. She had an impressive career but not without controversies
Harris joined the Alameda County District Attorney's Office, where she focused on sex crimes, before working as the District Attorney for San Francisco from 2003 onwards. However, she had been accused of not doing enough to bring criminal reforms during her tenure. Although those who worked with her claimed she was far more progressive than others. "I'm going to try and go inside the system, where I don't have to ask permission to change what needs to be changed."
7. She originally ran for President
On Good Morning America in 2019, she announced her candidacy for president. January 21 was Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the US. However, she had to withdraw her ticket due to a lack of funding and low polling numbers. Joe Biden chose Harris as his running mate in August, and after he was elected President, she became Vice President. She sent an e-mail to her supporters, citing, "My campaign for president simply doesn't have the financial resources we need to continue," per NPR.
8. Harris' younger sister is equally talented
Her sister, Maya Harris, is also a lawyer and a political commentator for MSNBC. She's a public policy advocate and also a writer. She was one of three senior advisors to work on Hillary Clinton's 2016 campaign. She also supervised her sister Kamala's presidential bid in her capacity. Her sister boasted about Maya, "I think most people who know Maya will tell you she's one of the smartest people they know," adding, "I feel very blessed," reported Politico.
9. Harris has already made political history
So far, she's earned many accolades for her work in civil rights. In 2017, she became the first South Asian-American senator in US history. Alongside, she was also the second female African-American ever to be elected to the Senate. She also has many firsts in her name- first woman vice president, first black and Indian origin woman to be elected for the seat. Harris said, "Yes, sister, sometimes we may be the only one that looks like us walking in that room," per New York Times.
10. Harris also loves cooking
Harris' now-husband Douglas Emhoff was married before and has two children. Emhoff revealed Madam Vice President frequently planned meals for the family. "She spends days thinking about the menu, grinding her own pepper, driving all over town just to find that one ingredient that we need," he told Vogue. He added, "I've gotten pretty handy in the kitchen as her sous-chef." It's proven because, once, Harris cooked masala dosas with Mindy Kaling for a YouTube video.
11. Harris has revised political style in her campaigns
Unlike any other political woman, Harris campaigned in Converse shoes. It's again one of the first as she has already broken many other ceilings. She broke the "traditional" political rules by donning casual footwear on a rather formal "political dress." Through this, she reflects confidence, a sense of purpose, and a fresh perspective on American politics. She took pride in her work instead of donning a typical wardrobe style that has been followed for years. "She's just being herself."
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