It’s Famous Friday!

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Kamala Harris

As a general rule, we here at Project RACE try to avoid Famous Friday stories on people we’ve featured before. But when we do, it’s because they deserve it! I last wrote about Kamala Harris nearly three years ago. My article began like this:

“Most of the world was expecting November 8, 2016 to mark the election of the first female president of the United States.  It did not. Many believe, however, that it was the day when America met the woman who could shatter that glass ceiling”… perhaps as early as 2020.”

And here we are! In three short years, Kamala Harris has gone from California’s Attorney General, to California’s new Junior Senator-Elect, to a top five candidate for President of the United States. On January 21, 2019, Harris announced her candidacy for President in the 2020 election, tying a record set by Bernie Sanders in 2016 for the most donations raised in the day following announcement. Since interring the race, Harris, who was both the second black woman and the first Indian-American ever elected to the Senate, has really stood out in a very crowded democratic field. To date, Harris, the multiracial daughter of an Indian-American immigrant mother and a Jamaican-American father, has raised $35.5 million overall in this campaign, from more than 850,000 individual contributions, including over $11 million in the third quarter of the year. She is a strong debater and has performed very well on the debate stage. Her support rose by between 6 to 9 points in polls following the first Democratic debate.

Since becoming a Senator, she has supported single-payer healthcare, federal legalization of cannabis, support for sanctuary cities, the DREAM Act, and lowering taxes for the working and middle classes while raising taxes on corporations and the wealthiest Americans.

Just this past week she had another big honor when Maya Rudolph played her in a very popular satire skit on Saturday Night Live. Showing she is not afraid to poke fun at herself, Harris, who has over 3 million followers on Twitter, responded playfully to Rudolph’s depiction of her as the coolest candidate in the race in a tweet saying, “That girl being played by @MayaRudolph on @nbcsnl? That girl was me.”

Harris is married to California attorney Douglas Emhoff, who is Jewish and is stepmother to Cole and Ella, Emhoff’s two children from a previous marriage. Her background embodies the racially blended society that is increasingly common across the United States. She calls herself simply “an American,” and said she has been fully comfortable with her identity from an early age.

“We need to work to ensure the leaders reflect the people they are supposed to represent,” she said. “And until we achieve that full representation, I think we should understand we are falling short of the ideals of this country.”

President Harris would be the second multiracial president, after Barack Obama, and certainly a step in that direction!


– Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Teens

Photo Source:

Kamala Harris is no Friend of the Multiracial Community


I always liked Kamala Harris before she became a presidential contender. Now, I’m not so sure. Unless you were under a rock somewhere last week, you knew how she attacked former vice-president Joe Biden for his working with separatists during the busing years. Harris started the attack by stating, “As the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race.” Some people on social media then accused her of telling the story of busing as if she was a black American.

She is black and she is American, but she is also biracial, with a Jamaican father and a mother from India. What she doesn’t do is claim her multiracial heritage. She courts the black population by calling herself black. That is, of course, her right, but is she being honest with the voting public? No.

The bigger question is “does it matter?” I contend that it does. Normally, it wouldn’t matter one bit, but she’s in an increasing area of influence and power. The multiracial community has been undercounted for decades and we could certainly use a chief in the White House who identifies as we do. Wasn’t Barack Obama supposed to do that? He also self-identified as black, which was fine with me until he called himself as well as people like him “mutts.” It made me cringe to think that millions of children were hearing themselves referred to as mutts. It still makes me mad.

I have written to Kamala Harris and her staff for clarification on how she identifies, and have yet to be acknowledged with an answer. I asked if the multiracial population was bigger, would she align herself with us. No answer. On the 2010 Census, the multiracial population was 2.9 percent and the black population over 12 percent. That’s quite a difference, but it’s changing. The multiracial population is the fastest growing group in the country. Yes, we have some catching up to do, but eventually we will catch up to and pass the black population. Then our votes will matter.

You can do your part if you’re multiracial. You can check all of the boxes on the census form that signify your race. Do not just fill in the “other” category. If you do, you won’t be counted as more than one race, which could hurt our numbers. Be honest. We fought for the right to self-identify as more than one race and we need to show that we have the numbers that count, regardless of how Kamala Harris sees us.

Susan Graham, president of Project RACE and author of Born Biracial: How One Mother Took on Race in America.

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Is Kamala Harris Black?


I like Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), but she disappointed me today. In a radio interview, Harris was asked about her “blackness.” Her parents were born in India and Jamaica, making her what we would call biracial or multiracial. She is, of course, very free to racially identify as she pleases and apparently she identifies as black. Absolutely fair enough.

The problem I have is when she tries to represent everyone—and no, she’s not the president yet, so she doesn’t get to do that. She said, “I’m not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are.” She also said, “I’m not going to make excuses for anybody because they don’t understand.” We do understand. We understand that Kamala Harris is defending the ridiculous old one-drop rule that if you have one-drop of black blood, you are black. We understand what it means to identify as multiracial. We understand that some people negate the race of one of their parents. We also understand that she is going after the black vote in her bid for the presidency and she’s being political. Perhaps she should consider the multiracial votes. We also understand that if she ever needs a bone marrow transplant, her Indian side will very much be a factor for a match no matter how much she says she is only black.

The Senator was also questioned about her marriage to a white man, which she defended, thank goodness. I don’t know if they have children or plan to, but I hope she gives some thought to how they will racially identify. If only Harris had said she identifies as black but is also proud of her biracial heritage, I would not be so disappointed. –Susan Graham


Kamala Harris Update

Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, faced at least one question about her heritage on Monday. When a reporter, who noted she is both African-American and Indian-American, asked how she would describe herself, Harris replied: “How do I describe myself? I describe myself as a proud American. That’s how I describe myself.”

Here We Go Again


Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) announced her run for president today. Major news outlets such as The New York Times, AP and CNN all referred to her immediately as the first African American woman to run. She is the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother. Harris is biracial. That she announced her intent on MLK Day is significant and shows that she has fought for human rights and equality. It does not indicate that she is black.

I don’t know how Kamala Harris self-identifies racially and she may well define herself as black, as did Barack Obama when he was president. She absolutely has that right, but it would mean a lot to the multiracial community if she acknowledged her biracial heritage and identity, however it’s not likely. Here we go again.

by Susan Graham for Project RACE


Photo Credit: AP


If you still don’t get it

You and CNN should get it by now, but I’ll explain again. CNN Politics is running a story titled, “Why Kamala Harris is the new Democratic frontrunner.” They describe her this way: “Harris is in her first term as a senator from the country’s largest state. When she won in 2016, she made history as the first African-American woman and the first Indian-American woman to represent California in the Senate.” Nowhere does it state that Harris is multiracial.

Project RACE contends that people of “two or more races” have multiple single racial identities AND a multiracial identity. After all, you’re reading this post as it pertains to the multiracial community, not as single-race communities, yes? Although some people who read this obviously wish to assign multiracial people into single categories, as we’ve seen evidenced by their posts, a multiracial community does exist and statistics collected as multiracial are important. –Susan Graham for Project RACE


Photo Credit: Wikipedia

FAMOUS FRIDAY: Kamala Harris

Most of the world was expecting November 8, 2016 to mark the election of the first female president of the United States.  It did not. Many believe, however, that it was the day when America met the woman who could “shatter that glass ceiling”… perhaps as early as 2020.

Kamala Hakamala_harris_official_attorney_general_photorris is California’s new Junior United States Senator-Elect. Harris is both the second black woman and the first Indian-American ever elected to the Senate. Yes, she is multiracial, the daughter of an Indian-American Hindu mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan Harris, a breast cancer specialist, who immigrated from India, and a Jamaican-American father, Donald Harris, a Stanford University professor. Before this accomplishment, Harris was the first woman, the first African-American, the first Indian-American and the first Asian-American to become California’s Attorney General.

“My mother had a saying ― ‘you may be the first to do many things, make sure you aren’t the last,’” Harris told CQ Roll Call in June. “We need to work to ensure the leaders reflect the people they are supposed to represent, and until we achieve that full representation, I think we should understand we are falling short of the ideals of this country.”

People have compared Harris to President Obama, who himself is a Kamala Harris fan and endorsed her senate campaign, and many leading Democrats believe she could one day occupy the Oval Office. As Attorney General she has had the opportunity to advocate for the issues that are important to her. She has led on Black Lives Matter, rehabilitating first-time drug dealers, internet privacy issues. Following her election as senator, she vowed to protect immigrants from the policies of Trump.

 “It is the very nature of this fight for civil rights and justice and equality that whatever gains we make, they will not be permanent. So we must be vigilant,” Harris said. “Do not despair. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves and fight for who we are.”

 – Karson Baldwin, President Project RACE Kids

The “M” Word

The San  Francisco Chronicle had a front page article about Kamala Harris, the California Attorney General April 29, 2010 The title of the article is “Kamala Harris mixing idealism, political savvy.” 

One of the things we realized in 1993 was that we had to have our terminology intact. The Census Bureau and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said we had to narrow the category down to one word. In other words, they could not put “multiracial, biracial, mulatto, or mixed” on a form. Different people prefer different terms for themselves and for others. We polled the Project RACE membership and the overwhelming preferred word was “multiracial.” 

“Multiracial” is a dignified, respectful term that can be used by people of any and many combinations of races. We adopted the term. But then when OMB said at least they would do “check all that apply” we knew we would have to start spreading the word about terminology. The Census Bureau still refers to multiracial people as “People of more than one race,” or the “Two or more race population.” Over the years, we have managed to get “multiracial” into popular usage and one way we do that is to teach journalists to use the word that is preferable to most of the multiracial community. Some journalists still can’t bring themselves to use the “M” word. This is what appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday:

     Kamala Devi Harris was born in Oakland to UC Berkeley graduate students. Her mother,   Gopalan Shyamala, was an Indian immigrant who became aprominent breast cancer researcher. Her father, Donald Harris, was a Jamaican immigrant who later taught economics at Stanford. They divorced when she was 5, and she was raised by her mother.”

We don’t know how Attorney General Harris self-identifies, but it would be great to see it stated that she is multiracial.