In the 231 years since John Adams became the first vice president of the United States, there has never been a woman, South Asian, or black Vice President. On January 20th, 2021, that will all change when U.S. Senator Kamala Harris takes all of those titles. Born the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris became U.S. Senator of California in 2016, and the running mate of President-Elect Joe Biden, in 2020. The child of immigrants herself, Kamala Harris pledged to offer a path to citizenship to the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Harris graduated from Howard University and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Her career began in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, before she was recruited to the San Francisco’s District Attorney’s Office and then the City Attorney of San Francisco. In 2010, she was elected Attorney General of California and was re-elected in 2014. Now, 56 year-old Kamala Harris has been elected as Vice President of the United States, which is significant in a number of ways. First, she is paving the way for minorities to hold the highest office in government. Harris credits many of her accomplishments to her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an immigrant from India, who was a breast cancer researcher and civil rights activist. Kamala Harris wrote in a post about her mother, “And she was the kind of parent who if you came home complaining about something, she’d say, ‘Well what are you gonna do about it?’ So I decided to run for President of the United States.” Harris is the first black person to be elected Vice President of the United States. In addition, Harris is shattering the glass ceiling for girls and women all around the country and the world, showing them that they can have a voice and a future in whatever they dream.
As the first South Asian Vice President, Kamala Harris is a trailblazer who broadens the horizons of South Asian women and girls. Simryn Sharma, a sophomore at Blind Brook High School explains, “I am Indian so having an Indian in a [high government position] is inspiring to me. It’s just more personal to me because she is part of the minority group and she can motivate me more. She [ran for] vice president so if she can do anything, I can do anything.”
Harris’s win also motivates young women to see expansive futures for themselves. “A lot of industries, especially things like STEM and politics are so male dominated, so seeing someone in power who could be you is just so cool,” senior Kate Jaffee says. “If [Kamala Harris] can do it, I can do it too,” Jaffee remarks. Harris can bring change to both the country and the lives of young women who have large aspirations for their life. Sophomore Alyssa Trokie believes that the election of Kamala Harris is really important for the evolution of the United States. Trokie states, “I feel that it’s important because women haven’t really been represented [in positions of power] until now. I think it’s important for women empowerment and [Harris] actually cares about women and will focus on [issues] involving women because she is one herself. A lot of Vice Presidents and Presidents have talked about abortion and other [matters regarding women] but it’s different when it’s from a woman’s point of view.” Many women are optimistic that women’s rights are more likely to be addressed in depth with Harris in office.
Kamala Harris was only the second black woman to serve in the U.S Senate and she was a candidate for the Democratic nomination for President, having launched her campaign in January 2019. While her own campaign for the presidency was ultimately unsuccessful, Joe Biden selected her as his running mate and she was deemed victorious alongside Biden. Harris is a major advocate for global warming and was a co-sponsor of the Green New Deal. She is also pushing for stricter gun legislation and the banning of assault weapons.Sophomore Rachel George says, “I feel like she could do a lot of beneficial things and she can help this country in ways that need help like poverty and Black Lives Matter. I believe she will do many things that past vice presidents didn’t do.” It is anticipated that the Biden-Harris administration will intensely address racial injustice.
The significance of Kamala Harris’s election as Vice President is major. Being the first woman, black person, and South Asian person as Vice President is an unprecedented step for Americans and opens up new opportunities and pathways for young people. Harris is an inspiration to millions of people worldwide who feel like doors have finally been opened for them and their futures.