Kamala Harris and the Flaws of Representational Politics


Harris speaking at a Democratic Party Convention. Photo by Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Nevin Perkins, Op/Ed Editor

Millions across the nation celebrated Kamala Harris being sworn in as the first female and Black Vice President (VP) of the United States on Inauguration Day. Chucks and Pearls, her signature ensemble was the fit of the day for women across the nation.

To some we witnessed barrier-breaking democracy firsthand. A nation having endured unprecedented political theater and harm, from a man who embodies an alarmingly large portion of America’s racist attitude, into the hands of a fighter who has a proven record of siding with the people.

Surely, it can be found in Harris’s long-term advocacy for freedom, justice, and equality for oppressed people. Unfortunately, no such record exists.

A surface-level examination of our VP’s record would show her history of attacks towards the communities of Black and Brown people during her time as a district attorney and self-proclaimed “top cop” attorney general of California. Let us revisit this timeline of Harris’s troubling political history.

Harris, a district attorney in 2010, opposed recreational marijuana. Due to this opposition, her office oversaw the arrests of 1,900 people for marijuana offenses, most of them being Black and Brown people. Understanding this must make it shocking that she could sit and joke on the Breakfast Club radio show about smoking marijuana when she ruined the lives of so many for the drug’s usage.

Today, Harris is singing a different tune as she advocates for the national legalization of marijuana. Her motivations were clear in her conformity to a centrist/left position as she sits in the second highest seat in the land and is looking to develop a progressive image.

Sad to say that cannabis users were not the only targets of our Madam VP’s politics. She also has made some despicable choices harming people who are Transgender and sex-workers, a community and occupation that have suffered horrendously from Harris “lock em up” politic that keeps nonviolent citizens behind bars.

Not only has she opposed the decriminalization of sex-work by calling it “ridiculous,” she has also sent transgender women to male incarceration facilities, placing them in immediate danger. Harris has even gone far enough to support companies that have worked to eliminate online sex-work sites that provide folks with the ability to work safely. Whatever the reason for her crusade on transgender and sex-worker communities, it is clear that Harris has managed to escape having to account for her crimes.

Wait, because we know what comes next, “If she has such a harmful political record then why people aren’t speaking up about it?” They are, they are just not being heard over the noise of the Democratic Party.

“As someone from the Bay Area and living in Oakland, I am constantly reminded of her history of locking up Black people in the Bay Area. Her track record consists of terrorizing Black communities through the prison industrial complex and she has consistently shown herself to be an enemy to the masses of Black people,” Blake S., an Oakland, California organizer said.

I suppose the real question is why voices like Blake’s are not being heard nationally. Well, the answer is simple. America values representation over morals and principles. Harris identifying as a Black woman is far more important in America than her political record. So much to the point where critiquing her automatically makes you a Trump supporter.

The binary political limitations of our democracy have got to go. We should not continue to fall victim to the notion that if we have progressive politics we align with the Democratic party, because it is clear with the elevation of our VP that the Democratic party will always deliver representation over truth and justice.


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