NEWS AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Aug. 20, 2020: For days since the announcement of Kamala Harris as the running mate of Democratic Presidential Candidate, Vice President Candidate Joe Biden, Jamaican and Caribbean immigrants were beaming with pride.
All pointed to her roots in the Caribbean and Jamaica through her father, Dr. Donald Harris, and lauded her as the first Caribbean American roots candidate to ever be selected for the post.
But Harris poured cold water on that Wednesday night as she accepted the nomination for vice president of the United States at the 2020 Democratic Convention from Delaware.
To begin, there was no mention of her Caribbean or Jamaican heritage or her father in the introductory video to her speech. The focus was kept on her Indian heritage, her mother, and the fact that she was born in Oakland, California.
“Daughter of Shyamala,” says an Indian woman in the video with no mention made of her living Stanford Professor dad.
Harris then began her speech with basic acknowledgements to her parents by name and how they met with the focus on her mother who raised her and her sister Mya as a single parent after her divorce when Harris was five.
“There’s another woman, whose name isn’t known, whose story isn’t shared. Another woman whose shoulders I stand on. And that’s my mother—Shyamala Gopalan Harris,” Harris said. “She came here from India at age 19 to pursue her dream of curing cancer. At the University of California Berkeley, she met my father, Donald Harris — who had come from Jamaica to study economics. They fell in love in that most American way—while marching together for justice in the civil rights movement of the 1960s.”
She then quickly moved on to note that her mother “raised us to know and be proud of our Indian heritage,” while again ignoring her Jamaican or Caribbean heritage.
“My mother taught me that service to others gives life purpose and meaning. And oh, how I wish she were here tonight but I know she’s looking down on me from above. I keep thinking about that 25-year-old Indian woman — all of five feet tall — who gave birth to me at Kaiser Hospital in Oakland, California. On that day, she probably could have never imagined that I would be standing before you now speaking these words: I accept your nomination for Vice President of the United States of America,” Harris continued. “I do so, committed to the values she taught me. To the Word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight. And to a vision passed on through generations of Americans — one that Joe Biden shares.”
The move set Indian Twitter a twittering.
“What a tragedy that Shyamala Gopalan came to America ‘to pursue her dream of curing cancer,’ and then died of cancer herself in 2009, never getting to see her daughter Kamala accept the VP nomination tonight. #DemConvention2020,” tweeted @NishaChittal.
“Kamala’s tribute to her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who traveled alone to the US from India in the 1950’s in pursuit of a better education and almost unheard of a young Indian woman at the time, is emotional and powerful. ?,” added Rejji Kuruvilla.
On Caribbean Twitter, the silence was largely deafening but Ebony @bigbawdybenzzz summed up the blatant slight by tweeting: “Dem ppl ya a embarrassment to Jamaica” while SocialButterfly added: “And can we emphasize how fond she is of her INDIAN MOTHER and NEVER bothered to mention her Jamaican father!”
See full remarks here