Listening to Kamala Harris during an informative fireside chat last week during the National Urban League’s Annual Conference, held in D.C. at the Washington Convention Center, it soon became apparent why the attorney who learned her craft at Howard University has broken one glass ceiling after another – from attorney general and U.S. senator for the state of California to currently serving as the first female, African-American and Asian American vice president in U.S. history.
She’s intelligent, engaging, cool under fire and even has a good sense of humor – “absolutely” – as she’s known to often say.
But if you believe the assessments and criticisms of Harris that have come from many of the nation’s mainstream publications and televised news programs, not to mention several members from the GOP ranks in Congress, you’d think she had been chosen for one reason and one reason only – she best fit the slot for Black female on which then-presidential candidate Joe Biden promised Americans he’d deliver during his run for the Democratic nomination.
That’s why we once again affirm that Americans deserve – in fact, need – to have multiple media outlets with a wide range of perspectives and a diverse pool of employees. Because in many instances, those who purport to present the news objectively often have their own agendas and biases – some which they recognize, others that are so ingrained that they’d swear on a Bible that they’re “telling it like it is, fairly and without prejudice” – even when it appears they are not.
Of course, as a voice of the Black Press, we realize that we, too, have our own predilections and that who we are and what we sometimes assume are the result of decades if not generations of thought, of joy and pain, of successes and failures experienced that both we and our predecessors have experienced.
Nonetheless, after considering the unfettered criticisms and jabs often lodged against Harris, we are led to conclude that she, like many before her, is clearly a victim of being the “first Black in the seat” – from Thurgood Marshall and Shirley Chisholm to Jackie Robinson and Barack Obama.
While it certainly isn’t fair, when you’re the “first Black” you have to be prepared to remain cool, calm and collected, even when you may be seething with anger and indignation. You have to obvious and not-so-obvious signs of disdain and disgust and downright hatred hurled in your direction. And you have to understand that in breaking the ceiling, that a new barrier has been placed before you – calling for you to run faster, to think more expeditiously, to speak effectively and to always appear above approach.
Kamala Harris, like Marshall and Chisholm and Robinson and Obama, knew that when she stepped onto the field. Let’s give her a chance and support her along the way.
HU – you know!