I was at the park with my kids when I heard the news. We danced in the leaves, full of excitement. Then we sang and danced some more in our living room. We ate, drank, and celebrated all day into the night — I was overjoyed. After four years of an insufferable, racist, misogynist, xenophobic Donald Trump, I knew I would be happy. But I didn’t expect the flood of emotion that would wash over me as I processed the news joining Biden in the White House would be his running mate, Kamala Harris – the daughter of India.
Ahhhhhh — you could almost feel the whole of India collectively exhale a sigh of relief when Joe Biden was announced as president-elect while Kamala Harris was named as the vice president.
Within seconds of the race being called, a crowd gathered outside the White House at Black Lives Matter Plaza and erupted into cheers. People were literally dancing in the streets, with champagne showers and songs of joy. There was jubilation from New York to Los Angeles. In India, it was a wave of celebration – from Delhi to Kolkata – from Mumbai to Punjab. It didn’t take even a second for any of the Indians to realize – finally, we have someone of our own – the adored Kamala Harris – in the White House.
It is hard to overstate as a woman — as an immigrant woman of South Asian heritage — how powerful it feels watching history being made with Kamala Harris set to become the next president of the United States.
Harris has accumulated many “firsts” throughout her career. She was the first female district attorney of San Francisco, the first female attorney general of California, the first South Asian American in the U.S. Senate. Now, she is shattering ceilings we once only imagined in our wildest dreams.
After 243 years in a role held exclusively by white men, Kamala Harris will be the first female vice president of the U.S., the first Black vice president, the first South Asian American vice president, and the first daughter of immigrants from India to be vice president now – and the president pretty soon.
I get goosebumps as I write these words. Because of her, there are thousands of Americans (and Canadians) who now see politics and real possibilities for their immigrant families, their daughters and even themselves.
And I’m not the only one.
Eternity Martis, a journalist and author who was born to a Pakistani mother and Jamaican father, struggled with identity growing up.
“There’s this idea that if you’re mixed with Black, saying you’re multiracial is an attempt to distance yourself from being Black, and that was never true for me,” Martis says. “It took me a long time to be unapologetic about being both, so seeing Harris embrace both sides have been so reassuring that we all deserve to be who we are and identify how we choose.”
Martis credits the media for reporting on Harris’ multiracial identity. “After all, North America is full of interracial relationships and multiracial people, so it’s time we start being mindful of representation.”
I cannot emphasize enough how much representation truly matters.
Monica Sood, an elementary school teacher with the York Region District School Board, as we were chatting about the election, told me that Harris’ election is proof that “anything is possible,” and hopes it will inspire Black and South Asian girls and boys to see that they can realize their dreams and goals.
“I’ll never forget the look of awe on my kids’ faces when we told them Kamala was Black and South Asian,” she says. “I was excited that they would be able to see someone who was biracial like them being celebrated as the next president.”
As vice president for now, Kamala Harris is poised to bring about real change. From her years of experience as a prosecutor and lawyer, there is optimism that she will help Biden restore justice to a broken justice system on issues of racial equality, and end the deplorable immigration and refugee policies that have ripped children from the arms of their parents. Let America open its arms and welcome immigrants from around the world. This can only brighten America’s pride as a multi-cultural nation.