As the sexist and racist attacks against Kamala Harris pile on, there’s one line of criticism that is particularly ripe for debunking. That’s the idea that Harris, Joe Biden’s running mate for president, is some kind of “affirmative action hire,” chosen not on her merits but as a “box-checking exercise for the ‘woke’ crowd,” as Fox News’ Laura Ingraham put it.
The implication here is that Harris isn’t qualified for the role. Of course that’s absurd.
Harris has more than a decade of experience at the highest levels of government, including as San Francisco district attorney, California attorney general and as a senator from the most populous state in the country. She’s proven herself on the national stage, especially in her role on the Judiciary Committee, where she won plaudits for her skillful questioning of Trump appointees.
But like most women of color — Harris is both Black and Asian American — she has had to work harder to get to where she is than white men in comparable positions. One example: the current president, who’d never held public office prior to his election. This dynamic was made plain at the start of the Democratic presidential primary when Harris ran against a one-term congressman, the mayor of a small city and several rich guys with no political experience, nearly all of them white.
The reality is: The deck is stacked against women of color, and particularly Black women, in this country. The ones who make it to the top, like Harris, overcome an astonishing array of obstacles.
Gender played a role in the selection of both Kamala Harris and Tim Kaine. But only in Harris’ case was there speculation that she was unqualified.
That’s true in politics, where Black women, despite some recent incredible gains, are still woefully underrepresented. There’s never been a Black female governor in the U.S. There have only been two Black female senators, one of whom is Harris. If Biden and Harris...