On Tuesday afternoon and evening, my Twitter timeline shifted from the doom and gloom of coronavirus casualties and acceptance of QAnon by mainstream Republicans, to joy and elation as Kamala Harris was announced as Biden’s running mate. Despite a constant desire to run out the tired narrative of ‘Dems in Disarray,’ the response to Harris being selected was overly positive.
Some Progressives are still feeling a bit raw and that is their prerogative. Many of these activists seeking grand systemic change have felt that this is their Moment, but the overwhelming majority of the Democratic Party (for better or worse) has decided that a bland DC insider (Biden) is their best bet to beat Trump and get the country back on its feet. I have only seen a very few examples of Democratic voters who are ready to jump ship. What is much more prevalent in my timeline is Bernie supporters who have pledged their support for the Biden/Harris ticket with the proviso that they will not let up on oversight and agitation in an effort to bring about the progressive changes they seek, such as Medicare for all, which will almost certainly not be part of the Democratic platform unveiled next week.
Personally, the selection made me feel great. I donated to Harris (among others) in the primary. She is an exceptional prosecutor and has tremendous charisma. She will be great for an Executive branch that is clearly hurting from an excess of mismanagement.
I was feeling so good, in fact, that I wasn’t quite prepared for the Right’s response, much of which is straight up racism and sexism. It is always gratifying and horrifying at the same time when i find myself surprised by the unabashed racism of Americans. I grew up in a time when this was never talked about, except as an historical issue that had been ‘resolved.’ by the time i got out of grade school, i realized that was not true. But in my elation and happiness about Harris winning the veepstakes, I simply forgot how horrible people can be.
All the criticisms so far are a bit scattered. Apparently Harris is both a leftist radical and a tough cop who approves of mass incarceration. Neither is true, by the way. But the thread that joins these attacks is that she is an angry Black woman who, if given power, will bring all her Black friends to terrorize the suburbs and enslave the white race.
Oh, and we are also hearing that apparently Harris is not African American because her Black father is from Jamaica. It seems some folks at Fox News and other places are forgetting how Black people got to Jamaica in the first place.
The more important concern with this kind of hateful rhetoric is the manner in which it denies a person’s identity. It is literally dehumanizing when people say she is not an African American. When someone is not human, then you can do whatever you want with them and to them. That’s a slave owner mentality and it still exists today.
So, I’ve gone from elation back to sadness as the uglier parts of our culture, empowered by Trump, engage in racist and sexist attacks. And when I watched Senator Harris’s event with Biden yesterday, I realized that, to a great extent she is not really ‘allowed’ to fight back, lest she play into the ‘angry black woman’ trope. It is a brutal lesson in how far we have left to go.