Kamala Harris made history on Wednesday as she was sworn in as the first woman, first black and first Asian American Vice President in the history of the United States of America.
As the first coloured Vice President, Ms Harris has risen higher in the country’s leadership than any woman ever before her. She being the first woman of colour to hold the office is a milestone for the nation which has a damaging history of racial injustice.
Ms Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, had the strong support of a group of women in bright saris and men wearing white dhoti pants (a type of sarong worn by men in India), who watched Harris live in Thulasendrapuram, a village in Tamil Nadu, South India. The villagers chanted “Live long Kamala Harris” while holding portraits of her and blasted off fireworks the moment she took the oath.
Ms Harris is the first Vice President to have graduated from a historically Black college and to be in a historically Black Greek letter organisation. Belonging to a non-white family growing up Ms Harris was always taught, the road to racial justice was long since her early years in Oakland and Berkeley, California. She spoke on camping trails of those who had come before her, of her parents, immigrants drawn to the civil rights struggle in the United States— and of ancestors who had paved the way.
In her victory speech, Ms Harris spoke of the generation of women who paved their way for this moment. “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she told a cheering and honking audience in Wilmington, Del. “ Because every little girl watching this tonight sees this as a country of possibilities.”
She understands so many real-life problems faced by immigrants and people of colour in the United States, that there’s just so much you don’t have to explain to the Vice President.
While struggling to attract the very women and black voters she had hoped would connect with her personal stories during her primary bid, she continued to make a concerted effort as Mr Biden’s running mate to reach out to people of colour, some of whom they have said feel represented in national politics for the first time.
Around 1.3 million Indian-American were voters in this year’s election, with nearly 200,000 in the battlegrounds states like Pennsylvania and 125,000 in Michigan. It is believed that the Indian-American Voters played a crucial role in the key battleground state.
But amid the sense and joy of empowerment in seeing a woman of colour change history, she also cautioned that the history-making moment should not distract progressives from continuing to push their agenda. /TISG
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