US ELECTIONS

Will Biden-Kamala ticket save America from Trump?

They represent a departure from the hatred perpetrated by the Donald Trump administration against people of colour

In Summary

• The Biden-Kamala ticket is billed as a coalition of the liberal whites, the majority minorities and women. Kamala's parents are Jamaican and Indian.

• They aim to guarantee better policing of both local US and international matters, without profiling people on the basis of their race or origin.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris after a debate in September 2019.
DEMOCRATIC TICKET: Former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris after a debate in September 2019.
Image: REUTERS

The Democrats' presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden has finally named his running mate.

She is Senator Kamala Devi Harris and this has lit up the hopes of many Americans and indeed the world.

Kamala is a 56-year-old black-Asian American lawyer, currently a junior senator  from California. She ran for the Democratic Party’s presidential ticket but dropped out of the race and endorsed Biden.

 

She is the daughter of migrants - Donald Harris, a British Jamaican economit, and Indian Shyamala Gopalan, a breast cancer researcher.

Kamala becoes the third female vice presidential nominee of a major political party and the first black-Asian American woman to be nominated for vice president.

She grew up in one of the poorer neighbourhoods of California and was forced to attend a previously white school during the 1960s school busing (racial integration) programme.

Her parents divorced when she was age seven. Then she and her sister and her sister would make weekend visits to their dad in a predominantly white neighbourhood. But the white children were not allowed to play with black children.

Kamala speaks a  little Tamil as she and her sister Maya occasionally visited their grandparents in Chennai, India.

Her father is a professor emeritus in economics at Stanford university and her mother was a breast cancer scientist who went to America in 1960 to pursue a PhD in endocrinology.

Kamala attended Howard University, a historically black university in Washington, DC, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in political science and economics. She received her law degree from the University of California. She was an intern for one of California's two senators while she was studying.

She rose through the ranks from a district attorney, to become the attorney general of the state of California, before being elected as a junior senator in 2017.

She sponsored progressive legislation, including bills she sponsored in the Senate providing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, health reforms, tax reforms and the banning of assault weapons.

One may ask why her nomination makes heads turn. This is because it represents a departure from the hatred perpetrated by the Donald Trump administration against people of colour - be they blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Middle Easterners or those in-beteen.

President Trump has elevated white privilege to new heights in American society, with his ‘Make America (read white) Great Again’ becoming the  antithesis of  the Obama presidency.

I, for example, was harassed and profiled by his Secret Service agents as Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly last year at the UN Headquarters in New York. An acquaintance of Middle Eastern origin was pinned to the ground by the same Secret Service on suspicion of being a terrorist.

America is facing a monumental threat from China as an economic powerhouse and superpower since it's estimated that in fewer than 10 years, Beijing will literary overtake Washington economically.

Former US President Jimmy Carter attributes this to the fact that the country has always been at war, only enjoying 16 years of relative peace in its 200-year history. Further, China hasn’t indulged in the role of the global policeman, but has concentrated on the economic war and successfully so, after the country’s 1978 ideological shift by Deng Xiaoping and later its move to join the World Trade Organization.

This is why the candidature of Sports CS Amina Mohamed for the WTO director General is critical to Kenya and Africa’s growth. The US economy is worth $21.44 trillion, China’s is $14.14 trillion, while Kenya’s is only $98 billion (IMF 2019).

Trump has failed to handle the Covid-19 crisis well, as the US leads globally in the number of infections and fatalities  - 5.26 million and 167,000, respectively.

Coupled with the facts the virus has affected black and people of colour disproportionately and the killing of George Floyd by racist police, the US is in dire need of leadership that can unite people, begin to close deep racial fissures and improve its image internationally.

In 2008, Biden was a more senior politician than Obama, having served in the Congress for 20 years, yet he agreed to deputise him. The Biden-Kamala ticket is thus billed as a coalition of the liberal whites, the majority minorities and women. This is to guarantee better policing of local US and international matters, without profiling people on the basis of their race or origin.

However, the challenge of representational democracy is the potential to reproduce the faces of the people in a given jurisdiction, without achieving any meaningful gains to the very people who  ‘feel’ represented at the high table by those who look or speak like them.

Nevertheless, white privilege, racial heritage, in-betweenness and multilayered identities shouldn’t be used to stunt the development of the wholeeness of humanity, simply because people have to ‘fit in’. Rather, this should be used to unlock our collective potential towards achieving a fairer, more equal and just society for all.

The Biden-Kamala ticket has a story, that of a conquering people that defines the true essence of human inclusion and adaptability.

Alluta Continua