To male African American voters, vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris is what we like to call “problematic.” Not only was her run for president met with a lack of enthusiasm, but her nomination as Joe Biden’s running mate was riddled with questions and concerns from black men, many with a good recollection of the harm done by the U.S. senator from California.
As Harris and Biden take their steps forward in the campaign trail, I’d like to walk back down memory lane and bring current the issues black men have with voting for the Democrat ticket his November.
Using a Black Man to Gain Power
Biden and Harris are courting black male votes. This is not new to Harris, who dated former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown in the ‘90s, openly mentioning how this entanglement furthered her career in his letter published in the San Francisco Chronicle. While this may be water under the bridge for Brown, this scenario left a lingering, fowl taste in the mouths of black men, with her record as a prosecutor in mind.
A Problematic History of Prosecution
As President Donald Trump is well positioned to win over black men due to his stance on criminal justice reform, a vote for the so-called “Harris-Biden” ticket would fly in the face of those who feel they were wrongfully imprisoned during Harris’s time as a prosecutor and California attorney general. Rudy Giuliani rightfully attacked Harris on her inconsistent pattern of lockups that he says ranged from being “overly lenient” to “ridiculously strict.”
One Jamal Trulove spoke out about his experience in Seaside, California. As described in a VICE interview, he was wrongfully accused of murder without any physical evidence. His sentence was 50 years to life. While he was eventually exonerated, Trulove’s story is a nightmare to black men — especially those who are already skeptical of the judicial system. To vote for Harris would be to overlook this gross overuse of power. A Biden-Harris election would not be met with celebration.
Inconsistency in Identity
Many black people are proud to be black. So when Harris — sworn into the Senate as an Indian American — came out as “black,” it left much to be questioned. For one, why would Harris come out now as a black vice presidential candidate when she didn’t run as a black presidential candidate for the same election? And two: Is it okay for a candidate to change his or her racial identity depending on the needs of the party?
It wasn’t until Biden announced his need for a black female candidate that Harris came forward. Willfully, she put on her “blackface” to pander to African American voters, many of whom are tired of being used for political gain, all while packages of Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben were ripped from grocery store shelves. We can only hope that Harris remains a black woman after the 2020 election and throughout the rest of her life. After all, that is how my family and I will have to carry out our lives.
Disrespect on the Ballot
The 2020 vice presidential debate gave many of us a glimpse of the personality we are dealing with in Harris. As Vice President Mike Pence spoke, she felt the need to assert her authority over the sitting vice president. It was as if she felt entitled to interruptions with her sassy “I’m speaking” retort. To many alpha-energy men, we don’t take too kindly to women who feel the need to “mom” us. Harris’s demeanor felt condescending and arrogant, as if she was queen of the stage. Without this attitude in check, she can only hope to muster the support of the (unfortunately) uninformed and uncaring among us.
She may wear Timberlands. She may even show off her so-called “black dance moves” for her supporters. She may have even dated a black man in the past. But she will have trouble connecting to black male voters who demand more than empty gestures. Harris may have played one before, but she can’t play us now.