By Gemma Levy ‘23, Staff Writer
Much attention has been on the new Democratic President-Elect Joe Biden. Especially for women and minority groups throughout the country, however, Kamala Harris’ historic win was the victory that carried greater significance. On January 20th, America will have a female, African American, and Asian American Vice President. Across the board, no matter one’s gender or ethnicity, Harris’ election has had an impact; however, depending on one’s identity, heritage, and beliefs, Kamala Harris’ confirmation has different implications.
As Harris is of Indian descent, the election was momentous for South Asian Americans, an ethnic group that only comprises 0.9% of the American population according to the 2010 census. When reflecting on the significance of Harris’ election for her country and community, an Indian American mother of two girls said, “If an Indian American woman can be the first-ever woman to overcome a multitude of barriers to secure the position of Vice Presidency, then it’s not unreasonable for me to be hopeful or be expectant my daughter will be able to pursue any dream without hesitation, limitations or hindrances.”
For the Black community, disproportionately affected by systemic racism, Harris’ victory seems to have incited hope for a less discriminatory future.“As a Black woman myself, I am counting on it, that we will take this watershed moment and use it as an opportunity to break down barriers for women of color,” said Dnika Travis, Vice President of research at Catalyst, a company that accelerates inclusion of women in the workplace. Harris’ election has also caused other Black women, 91% of whom voted democratic at the top of the ticket this election cycle, to reflect on the past. “I thought about the rich legacy of Black women that made this moment possible who are no longer with us,” says Jotaka Eaddy, the founder and CEO of Full Circle Strategies, a social impact consulting firm. When expressing her gratitude for being able to witness such a moment in history, Eaddy remembered everyone who helped make Harris’ win possible. She said, “I thought about the Black women of Delta Sigma Theta who marched for suffrage in 1913. I thought about Fannie Lou Hamer. I thought about Shirley Chisholm, and how she was mistreated.”
Nevertheless, some people of varying ethnic groups, whose identities vary, are more critical of Harris becoming the Vice President-Elect. KJ Kearnly, an environmental activist, questions Biden’s motives for selecting Harris as his running mate. He said, “I do believe that she is one of the most qualified people to be Vice-President but I’m also not naïve and I understand that at this moment in history, she makes Joe look good.” Peyton Forte, a first-time voter, criticized Harris’ political stance. Forte wrote, “But are you fighting for some of the values that the Black community holds dear? Are you actually speaking to fellow Black folks in the community about what they’d like to see and some of the policies that they would like to see implemented? I think that Kamala’s proposed policies are not what the Black community necessarily needs right now.”