Kamala Harris and Her Black Transfiguration: Race Hustling.
In Ghana, I am 1/16th Asante, from the Oyoko Clan proper, yet I cannot speak of being Asante. I am also 1/16th Fulani, and yet still I cannot speak of being Fulani. At what point does a person become the different parts of his/her identity? At the half point? At the quarter point?
This is the problem with identity. Most people are social products of this sort of identity crises. Some of these crises are real, others are imagined, and still others are fabricated.
Of course, in the African context to my identity, there are often complex structures of inheritance superimposed on ethnic, language affiliation, as well. I could be 1/16th Ewe and still ascend to the throne in Dahomey, and not be able to claim a plot of land in still others!
We do not live in a vacuum of identities. There are structures. Some are strict, others are relaxed. Some identities are by birth, others are achieved and still others are thrust upon people.
And so is the case of the Vice Presidential Candidate for the Democrat Party, Kamala Harris. The lady accepts that her mother is Indian. Her father is half Irish, which makes Kamala, a quarter Irish and half Indian. The remaining quarter of Kamala’s identity is stooped in unnecessary ambiguity. For a reason.
It is within this ambiguity, and ambivalence, that Kamala Harris and her supporters in the Democrat Party claim that she descends from one African ancestor. So, with a reasonable guess, Kamala Harris is probably 1/16th Black, and at best she is probably ¼ th Black. This entails the fact that the percentage of her Blackness could be considerably less than 1/16th.
Why the over-exuberance in the Caucasian mass media about calling Kamala Harris a Black woman? Why the need to make her into an African American woman, and not an Indian woman? Why not an Irish woman? Why not a white woman?
Since the Black vote or more precisely the African American vote in America’s general elections remains pivotal in certain key states for Democrats, Kamala’s Black ancestor, real or imagined, has been resurrected and the particular fraction of Kamala’s genealogy that is this ancestor has also be blown out of proportion.
For good reason: To help the cause of Joe Biden (the Bigot) in the US general presidential elections against what the Democrats claim to be a racist in office, President Donald Trump. (There’s no indication that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are any less racists than President Trump!). The Black vote has been seen by Democrats as one that’s demanded to see a Black woman become (vice) president one day.
To answer that seeming “demand,” the Democrat party has offered Kamala Harris to the African American vote—which is a significant part of the Democrat strategy, come November. But why Kamala? Why is she raising an unknown African ancestor—one she has for so long, if not most of her entire life, ignored and forgotten—from the grave to help her win the African American vote?
It is will be unfair to say that this is the first time Kamala Harris and her Indian family have engaged in Kamala’s African Transfiguration to game the system of white supremacism that remains pervasive and insidious. By transfiguration, what I mean is that Kamala has been forced to change her form or appearance completely to a Blackness that she is not, but into a more spiritual state of Blackness.
Kamala Harris, in like manner as Rachel Dolezal (the white woman who passed for a Black woman), has consistently passed for a Black woman in American society and she has consistently identified as an African American woman to obtain leverage to the meagre resources reserved for Black women, who for centuries have been deprived of their basic humanity in American society.
Kamala, unlike Rachel Dolezal, has the darker skin complexion to boost her claim, and her father also hails from a country (Jamaica) that is predominantly (but not entirely) black, and which is still largely controlled by mixed-race persons. What is worse is that, since colorism is also rampant in American society as it is in Jamaica, which is also the result of the white supremacist ideals upon which the nations were built, Kamala’s light-skinned “Blackness,” and her less-curly hair is seen by the dominant white Euro-American society as more pleasing, or may I say, less terrifying, than the complexions of actual African American women.
Kamala’s 1/4th Irish heritage—although she is barred from claiming that she is Irish—also helps in making her an acceptable “House Negro” (in the old Chattel Plantation parlance), to the dominant white supremacist institutions. This is to say that Kamala Harris and her Indian family were aware that passing for African American, especially after Civil Rights, was surely guaranteeing Kamala Harris the upper hand to certain privileges over African American women in Euro-American society.
There’s a history behind this kind of identity-matching to light-skinned “Blackness,” much to Kamala’s own admission. It is not only true that Kamala actually identified as a Black woman to usurp the few spots that African American women were allowed to occupy in American society, but that by virtue of her father’s birth nation (Jamaica) and by virtue of her darker Indian skin complexion she couldn’t pass for much of anything “white,” which would have conferred the maximum privilege on her and her family in American society. Perhaps, it is for this reason why Kamala Harris eventually married a Caucasian man.
Although Kamala Harris is 1/4th Irish, she is not allowed by the white supremacist essentialist dictates of American society to pass for white. She does not say that she is “White.” She cannot! She would be legally lying on application forms if she checked “White.” On the other hand, passing for Indian, which she actually is (by way of her mother), does not confer the sort of political clout in American politics that she desires!
Much of Kamala’s African Transfiguration then can be attributed to only two insurmountable truths in American society: (1) Kamala wants to cash in on whatever gains that African American women have made after the Civil Rights, and (2) Kamala can only acquiesce to the dictates of the essentialist notions of race and belonging in the white supremacist nation of the United States of America.
There’s no doubt that although Kamala Harris’ Indian mother raised her as an Indian woman (Kamala’s parents were divorced when she was still only a child), she was “forced” either by appetite or by the dictates of American society to identify as a Black woman.
This is key to understand how certain identities are thus thrust on some people.
The problem now is not whether Kamala Harris is Black. She’s not Black. The problem is that in a white supremacist nation as the United States, Kamala Harris can usurp the identity of a Black woman to obtain legitimacy for her Americanness, and still use her lineage as both Indian, Jamaican Indian and Irish to situate herself to appeal to the white supremacist institutions of America to grant her privileges that these same institutions do not and will not grant African American women!
This, by all intents and purposes, makes Kamala Harris, her supporters and the Democrats, a coterie of race-hustlers. What better example of this is that no Black woman, no African American woman, has been nominated as (Vice) Presidential candidate for a major American Party but for Kamala Harris? An Indian-Irish woman who is passing for Black!