How Racists Will Try To Smear Kamala Harris

Trumpists are saying she had an ancestor who owned slaves. If true, it doesn’t prove what they think it does.

Even before Biden announced that Kamala Harris would be his running mate, the racist attacks began. It all started with a form of birtherism 2.0.

If crazy Joe cannot serve his full term, Kamala cannot by constitutional law become President. She is an anchor baby, mother is from India, father is Jamaican, and neither were american citizens at time of her birth.

Of course, that’s nonsense. But just to be clear, Harris was born in Oakland, California, which makes her a U.S. citizen, regardless of the fact that her parents were immigrants.

Given Trump’s history, it wouldn’t surprise me to hear him refer to the vice presidential nominee as an “anchor baby” in order to revert to his claim that brown people are abusing the constitutional provision granting citizenship to anyone born in this country. Over the years he has consistently suggested that he has the power to simply overturn that provision.

There is, however, another racist claim circulating about Kamala Harris. This one is an attempt to paint Harris as somehow different from the rest of the African American community in this country. Dinesh D’Souza has been obsessed with it on his Twitter account.

D’Souza makes that claim based on something Harris’s father wrote about his own ancestry in Jamaica. He said that his “roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (Christiana Brown, descendent of Hamilton Brown who is on record as a plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town).”

As the information spread, Black Twitter responded.

I was reminded of the fact that Alice Walker got some criticism from the African American community when she portrayed Celie’s husband, Albert, as abusive in her book The Color Purple. Walker responded by pointing out that she went to great lengths to depict Albert’s father as light skinned in both the book and the movie.

Walker explained that she did that in order to make it clear that Albert’s father was the son of both a slave and a slave owner, suggesting the confluence of the oppressor and the oppressed. She wrote this poem about her own ancestry.

for two who
slipped away
almost
entirely:
my “part” Cherokee
great-grandmother
Tallulah
(Grandmama Lula)
on my mother’s side
about whom
only one
agreed-upon
thing
is known:
her hair was so long
she could sit on it:

And my white (Anglo-Irish)
great-great-grandfather
on my father’s side
nameless
(Walker, perhaps?)
whose only remembered act
is that he raped
a child;
my great-great-grandmother,
who bore his son,
my great-grandfather,
when she was eleven.

Rest in peace.
The meaning of your lives
is still
unfolding.

If true, this part of Harris’s background actually does the opposite of what D’Souza was hoping to accomplish. It solidifies her connection to the experience of African Americans whose ancestors were enslaved in this country. Meanwhile, D’Souza, who pretends to know a lot about history, has once again demonstrated his ignorance and provided a “teachable moment” for the rest of us to learn something.

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Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly. Follow her on Twitter @Smartypants60.