Women Empowerment – Kamala Harris: From Caribbean Legacy to the White House?

Go Lean Commentary

Who is the most powerful person in the world?

No doubt, the President of the United States. But this is not just an American drama, as the holder of that office is often considered the “Leader of the Free World“.

Free World?!

Q: Are there other worlds? A: Sure, countries like North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Yemen and others, may not consider the American Hegemony. But, most ironic, all those countries are considered Failed-States. So in summary, the President of the US is considered the Leader of all functioning societies on the planet – including our Caribbean member-states.

There is a chance, that a person of Caribbean heritage – an empowering woman: California Senator Kamala Harris – could assume that office. See the introductory news story / VIDEO here:

VIDEO – Who Is Kamala Harris? | 2020 Presidential Candidate | NYT News – https://youtu.be/cO_CZCebc5U

The New York Times
Published on Jan 21, 2019 – Senator Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, is joining the race for the White House. Ms. Harris becomes the fourth woman currently serving in Congress to announce her presidential ambitions.
Read the story here: https://nyti.ms/2FSqIHD Subscribe: http://bit.ly/U8Ys7n
More from The New York Times Video: http://nytimes.com/video


Whether it’s reporting on conflicts abroad and political divisions at home, or covering the latest style trends and scientific developments, New York Times video journalists provide a revealing and unforgettable view of the world. It’s all the news that’s fit to watch.

So can she go from Caribbean Legacy to the White House? That would be shocking and empowering, considering that “Jamaican” comes with certain stereotypes. See a related news article here, detailing the affinity and conflict “she” has with her Jamaican father/heritage:

Title: Donald Harris slams his daughter Senator Kamala Harris for fraudulently stereotyping Jamaicans and accuses her of playing Identity Politics
By: Jamaican Global

Professor Donald Harris Kamala Harris’ Jamaican father, has vigorously dissociated himself from statements made on the New York Breakfast Club radio show earlier this week attributing her support for smoking marijuana to her Jamaican heritage. Professor Harris has issued a statement to jamaicaglobalonline.com in which he declares:

    “My dear departed grandmothers(whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents , must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”

This is the line – “Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?” – that has been repeated over by virtually every news media since Kamala Harris gave that response to the interviewer on New York’s Breakfast Club radio show when asked if she smoked marijuana.

Jamaica’s venerable Gleaner newspaper headlined:

    US Presidential Candidate Kamala Harris wants Marijuana Legalized, cites Jamaican roots.

While the locally based online news source Loop reported:

    Kamala Harris cites Jamaican roots in support of ganja legislation.

The Georgia based Macon Telegraph  was less subtle. Its report screamed:

    Kamala Harris supports legal pot. “Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”

The 2020 presidential hopeful with a Jamaican heritage said she not only smoked but added “I inhale”. Perhaps said jokingly at first in the spirit of the interview, she proceeded to suggest that her Jamaican father’s side of the family would be disappointed in her if she did not support the legalization of marijuana. And that IS a serious statement. Now Harris’ father has come out vigorously dissociating himself from his daughter’s statement.

And well he might. V.G. McGee in a op ed piece published on January 12 in Urbanislandz writes “ Back in 2014 while running for re-election for California attorney general, she wasn’t in support of legalizing recreational use of the plant , but it is good that she has evolved on the issue and we can thank her Jamaican relatives for influencing her changing opinion.” So, the perception created by Ms. Harris’ statement is real and has caused some unease amongst Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora and now, it seems, her father and his Jamaican family. For some, it is more than mere unease; one Jamaican commenting on social media expressed the concern that “soon my job will be singling me out to drug test me since I am from Jamaica. What a stereotype”. Her concern is not unfounded given the experience of Jamaicans travelling to US ports having sniffer dogs around them in customs halls.

The Indian/Jamaican Marijuana connection: Did Kamala Harris deliberately and unfairly stereotype Jamaica as a nation of pot smokers? 

An ironic twist in Ms. Harris’ associating marijuana smoking with her Jamaican heritage that seems to have escaped her as well as media watchers is the fact that it is also very much a part of her Indian heritage that she is so proud of claiming. Is she aware that it was India that bequeathed a marijuana culture to Jamaica? In her authoritative Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage (2003) Oliver Senior writes:

    ‘The practice of cultivating, smoking and otherwise consuming the herb (marijuana) is believed to have been popularized by Indian indentured immigrants who began to arrive from 1845. The local name ‘ganja’ is Indian. The concept of ganja as a holy herb is a Hindu one; it is widely used to enhance the religious experience in parts of India (despite government prohibition).

This seeming lack of knowledge about the connection between her Indian and Jamaican heritage provides additional ammunition for some Jamaicans who are of the view that Ms. Harris tends to downplay her Jamaican heritage when it suits her, crediting her Tamil Indian mother with the most significant influence on her life and outlook and rarely talks about her father’s influence. Her father Donald, hardly ever gets credit except when mentioned alongside her mother, but rarely as an individual. Even when asked by her host in the now famous ‘marijuana interview’ about her motivation to enter the presidential race, Ms. Harris referenced ONLY her mother whom she said, raised her and her sister Maya with many beliefs and rules – one being never to sit and complain about something, but to do something about it. Yet, anyone who has read ‘Reflections of a Jamaican Father’ Donald Harris’ heart-warming account of how he raised his two daughters, will immediately realize that there is another side to the Kamala Harris story. In that article Donald Harris writes:

    “As a child growing up in Jamaica, I often heard it said by my parents and family friends ‘member whe you come fram’ (remember from where you came). To this day I continue to retain the deep social awareness and strong sense of identity which that grassroots Jamaican philosophy fed in me. As a father, I naturally sought to develop the same sensibility in my two daughters.”

Continuing, Harris says:

    “My message to them was that the sky is the limit on what one can achieve with effort and determination and that in the process, it is important not to lose sight of those who get left behind by social neglect or abuse and lack of access to resources or ‘privilege’.

If Kamala Harris inherits some of ‘that deep social awareness’ and heeds the advice of her Jamaican father, she will make an excellent President of the United States of America.

Source: Posted February 15, 2019; retrieved March 7, 2018 from: https://www.jamaicaglobalonline.com/donald-harris-slams-his-daughter-senator-kamala-harris-for-fraudulently-stereotyping-jamaicans-and-accusing-her-of-playing-identity-politics/

How realistic is the notion of a Kamala Harris presidency?

History is on her side!

“Last time we knocked on the door  – this time, we are going to kick the son-of-a-bitch in!”

In the last presidential election (2016) Democratic Candidate Hillary Clinton knocked-on-the-door and won the popular vote, but lost out in the Electoral College. (Today, investigations are concluding on the possibility that the eventual winner, Donald J. Trump, may have benefited from illegal campaign funding activities and collusion with the foreign government of Russia – he may have cheated). So yes, a woman can win the office.

Based on the “Blue Wave” of the 2018 General Election (Mid-terms) results, there is reason to believe that the 2020 race will have a Democratic Party winner, rather than the Republican incumbent. Plus, ex-President Barack Obama proved that a “Black” person can win the office.

Will this combination propel Kamala Harris to the Office of the Presidency?

There is still a long journey to go, with a lot of obstacles to overcome and challenges to meet. But many women have overcame obstacles and met challenges to obtain their goals to impact society. In fact, this is the very theme this month of this series of commentaries from the movement behind the book Go Lean … Caribbean. This is part 3 of 6 for Women History Month; this series addresses how one woman can make a difference in society; and how society can make a difference for women; this is because qualities like courage, problem-solving, determination and a zeal for justice flourishes with some women … as it does with some men.

Other commentaries in this series include these entries:

  1. Women History Month 2019: Thoughts, Feelings, Speech and Actions
  2. Women History Month 2019Viola Desmond – The Rosa Parks of Canada
  3. Women History Month 2019: Kamala Harris – Caribbean Legacy to the White House?
  4. Women History Month 2019: Captain Marvel – We need “Sheroes”
  5. Women History Month 2019Ellevest CEO: Sallie Krawcheck
  6. Women History Month 2019: Accepting Black Women As Is

For Kamala Harris to win the presidency, she will have to “win over” America; but first she must “win over” the Democratic Party; even before that, she must “win over” the Black community. Some people think that will be her biggest challenge; see a related news article/opinion-editorial here:

Title: Kamala Harris Can’t Count on the Black Vote in 2020
Opinion by: Luther Campbell

Kamala Harris will have trouble persuading black voters to make her president in 2020. First, the U.S. senator from California must explain why Donald Trump has a better prison-reform record than she had as the Golden State’s attorney general. Then she’ll have to overcome the perception she’ll do anything to climb to the top.

On the street, many blue-collar African-Americans, especially men, have already made up their minds not to vote for her. Between 2004 and 2016, when Harris worked as San Francisco’s district attorney and state attorney general, she supported legislation that sent kids who skipped school to jail. And she opposed federal supervision of California’s prisons after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling declared the overcrowded facilities inflicted cruel and unusual punishment on inmates.

When she appealed a court order to implement new parole programs, Harris cited the need to use prisoners as slave labor to fight wildfires and pick up highway trash.

Though black voters want politicians who’ll put away thugs and killers terrorizing the neighborhood, they don’t support those who deny defendants rehabilitation and send them to prison for crimes they didn’t commit to line private prison companies’ pockets.

Harris rose to prominence in California after an affair with married, but separated, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who recently wrote a column that mentioned their relationship. Brown said he influenced Harris’ career by appointing her to two state commissions when he was California Assembly speaker. He also helped her in her first race for San Francisco district attorney.

When Harris, whose mother is from India and father is from Jamaica, decided it was time to take her talents to Washington, D.C., she married Douglas Emhoff, a rich white lawyer. For better or worse, black men don’t want to vote for a black woman who married a white man or was the mistress of a powerful black man.

Like everyone else, black voters want help from one of their own. The Bushes made sure their people got oil money. Bill Clinton let the telecommunications industry gobble up small radio and TV stations. And Donald Trump is looking out for his developer buddies through a tax cut and opportunity zones that gentrify minority neighborhoods. Meanwhile, Harris has let black people know they can’t count on her.

Source: Posted February 5, 2019; retrieved March 7, 2019 from: https://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/kamala-harris-cant-count-on-the-black-vote-to-win-in-2020-11068985

(This foregoing writer is not endorsed by this commentary; his editorial seems misogynistic).

Women in Politics? To the highest office in the land? This theme aligns with previous Go Lean commentaries asserting that ” Yes, they can!”; see a sample list here:

http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=14718 ‘At the Table’ or ‘On the Menu’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=13063 Gender Equity without a ‘Battle of the Sexes’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=12035 Fact & Fiction: Lean-in for ‘Wonder Woman Day’
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=8306 Women Get Ready for New Lean-In Campaign
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6937 Women in Politics – Yes, They Can!
http://www.goleancaribbean.com/blog/?p=6836 #FatGirlsCan – Women do not have to be a ‘Ten’ to have impact

For those of us in the Caribbean, we have No Vote and No Voice in this 2020 presidential race. But we can observe-and-report. We can apply the proven “5-L” methodology: Look, Listen and Learn how to overcome orthodoxies to finally get the best person elected for the job, despite any race or gender.

We can also Lend-a-hand! (Many people of Caribbean heritage live in the US – many can vote). In fact, we – Jamaicans, Cubans, Puerto Ricans – were target demographics in the 2016 race.

Lastly, there is the opportunity to Lead – especially to define good leadership; recognizing attributes and personal qualities are bigger and of more importance than race and/or gender. We need to apply these lessons and leadership development in the Caribbean member-states.

So “Yes, we can” … learn from this American drama and learn to make our Caribbean homeland a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

Share this post:
, , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *