Kamala Harris Does Her Best to Redeem Our Sexist, Racist Past


Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris at the Democratic National Convention in Wilmington, Del. (Carolyn Kaster / AP Photo)

For many Democratic women, Wednesday night’s convention roster heralded a celebration tied up in a well-worn ribbon of grief. As we hailed the historic nomination of Senator Kamala Harris, the first black woman ever chosen as Vice President, we also mourned the lost chances of other amazing women who spoke this very same night: Hillary Clinton, the 2016 presidential nominee who won by 3 million votes but lost the Electoral College to Donald Trump, and Senator Elizabeth Warren, whose own inspiring 2020 presidential campaign ran strong, until it didn’t. 

Harris herself had sought the big prize, the White House, until her once-promising campaign ran aground on organizational troubles plus some racism and sexism tossed like marbles on the slick floor before her. Let’s be clear: The VP pick is no mere consolation prize for Harris. This is huge. Yet many of us expected we’d be watching a convention this summer nominating a woman president for her second term, and when that dream died, nominating the next woman nominee — not necessarily trying to get one of us on the ballot as another white man’s Number Two.

But was that just my pandemic gloom talking? I began to think so once I got on a Zoom event early Wednesday evening sponsored by Higher Heights for Women, a national organization advancing the political participation of black women, which endorsed Harris for president and then pushed her for VP. It was part dance party, part testimonial, with MC Lyte as DJ. When she played Beyonce’s version of “Before I Let Go,” rocking dozens of squares of black women, young and old, dancing on their own, I let go of my grief and anger and got ready to enjoy the history-making to come.  

First we had to get through Hillary Clinton, without grief. She gave an object lesson in realism. With her white hair in a light flip, minimal makeup, looking comfortable on her couch, it was easy to imagine she just re-watched an episode of “Schitt’s Creek,” before she turned to the camera to tell us to get out and f*(%&ing vote.

“For four years, people have told me, ‘I didn’t realize how dangerous he was.’ ‘I wish I could do it all over.’ Or worst, ‘I should have voted.’ Look, this can’t be another woulda, coulda, shoulda election,” Clinton said. “Most of all, no matter what, vote. Don’t forget: Joe and Kamala can win by 3 million votes and still lose–take it from me.”

(An aside: Can you imagine what it’s like to be Hillary Clinton listening to people say idiotic things like they “wish” they had “voted”? I guess that means for her? I’d probably be in jail if I had to listen to that more than once. Or at least over-consuming Chardonnay.)



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