Besant Nagar, Grandparents, Spices, Idlis: The Indian Connections Of Kamala Harris
Pictured: Kamala Harris with her maternal family in Chennai.
With just a week left for the Presidential Elections 2020 in the United States, candidates from the two national parties – Republicans and Democrats – are leaving no stone unturned to woo the Americans.
The Democrats who have fielded Kamala Harris as their Vice-President candidate have are hoping to have gained support of the Indian and African community due to her ethnic heritage.
US Senator from California, Harris is also become the first Black woman of Indian descent to run for the office of Vice President. Harris was born to Jamaican American father and an Indian mother. Her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer researcher, moved to the United States from Tamil Nadu for higher studies.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden’s selection of Harris as his running mate came at a time when conversation around intersectional feminism was on the rise. Harris has talked about her Black and Indian heritage on multiple occasions in the run up to the crucial Presidential elections in the US, which is going through mass protests against systemic racism.
Harris appeared in an Instagram video with Indian American actor Mindy Kaling where the two were trying to cook a South Indian dish, the Masala Dosa. In the funny banter that they had, Harris warns Mindy to not call her “aunty” as most of us Indians are taught. Harris also admits that she has never made a Dosa.
Harris talked about her South Asian descent on India’s Independence Day this year during her maiden address to the Indian-American community.
She said when her mother, Shyamala, stepped off the plane in California as a 19 year old, she didn’t have much in the way of belongings. But she carried on with her lessons from back home, including ones she learned from her parents and her grandmother, Rajan. They taught her that when you see injustice in the world, you have an obligation to do something about it.
Harris mentions her Indian roots in her memoir, The Truths We Hold, where she recalls that her childhood was filled with books, Indian spices and her mother’s singing. Gopalan won an award for her singing in India, mentions Harris. The Vice President candidate mentions that one of her favourite Sunday dinners is an Indian biryani.
After her first Vice President debate with Republican opponent Mike Pence, Harris’s uncle from India expressed how he felt sorry for him. Speaking to AFP Balachandran Gopalan, 79, said that he felt a little sorry for Pence. “You can't ask about the judiciary – she was on the judiciary committee, was attorney general, on Black Lives Matter, she's an expert, on the pandemic, he's on weak ground.”