by DaiJhah Owens
Let’s all gather ‘round, hold hands, and have a moment of silence for this year’s Black History Month. The good was great and the bad, was well, awful! Unless you didn’t have Wi-Fi access, it was hard to ignore a few notable black celebrities and the chaos that followed them throughout the month of February. From Jussie to R. Kelly, it seemed like everyday brought a new story in the media that captivated the nation for all the wrong reasons. As a self-proclaimed political analyst (CNN should hire a Sista!), one story in particular stood out to me in the sea of headlines, the backlash that followed after Kamala Harris announced her 2020 presidential campaign on MLK day.
Before I dive in, let me start by saying this, Kamala Harris is problematic for various reasons. But let the media tell it, she’s the only Democratic candidate running with a questionable political past. 2020 Democratic Presidential hopefuls have been announcing their presidential bids left and right. It seems like everyday a new person is throwing their hat into the ring with hopes of defeating the current president. But no one’s campaign announcement has been met with as much scrutiny as those of Kamala Harris.
Since her campaign announcement, countless critics have come out to remind Kamala and her supporters of her history as prosecutor, district attorney, and state attorney general in California. As California’s top prosecutor, Kamala supported numerous measures that contributed to mass incarceration including fighting to keep people in prison who had been found to be innocent. It has been proven that mass incarceration disproportionately affects black communities. I think it goes without saying, that the criminal justice system in America is one of the biggest threats to the black community, so it is only right that we be critical of those who are supposed to uphold justice. Kamala is not above that criticism. However, her white counterparts have not received the same backlash even though they, too, have a few skeletons in their closets. Bernie Sanders, a front runner, was found to have sexual harassment claims run rampant within his 2016 campaign team without investigating them. This story received not even a full day of media attention. Why? Shouldn’t he receive the same level of scrutiny?
Before her campaign team could hand out their first lawn sign, Kamala had been “canceled”. Is she canceled because she is a woman of color and we expect more from her? If so, I completely understand that perspective. But let me be clear, because the foundation of our political systems are inherently racist, unless their political platform is tearing down every government system in the U.S and starting from scratch, then any politician is bound to harm the black community with the policies they do or don’t support.
So I ask, can we hold Kamala accountable for her actions while still giving her room to prove herself as a presidential candidate? I believe we can. You know why, because we do it everyday with leaders who uphold the same injustices that she did. I’m only asking that we give her the same grace we’ve, for so long, given her white colleagues.
When you go and vote in the upcoming elections, I implore you to hold a microscope up to each and EVERY candidate, criticize them equally and harshly. We can’t afford a repeat of the last 4 years, friends!
DaiJhah Owens is a contributing writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC. DaiJhah is passionate about shifting political power to oppressed groups through education. She believes there is nothing more powerful than a educated black woman who can smell political BS a mile away! Connect with her on Instagram at @d_nakhole!