Biracial Kamala's appeal to the Dems' African-American base?
[Disclaimer: The author makes no pretense of speaking for African-Americans. All who believe that racial heritage dictates the parameters of acceptable speech are cautioned to read no farther. Any triggering that results from continuing beyond this point is solely the responsibility of the reader.]
Does anyone believe that if she were white, Kamala Harris would have been chosen as Joe Biden's veep? Toward the end of the deadline for naming the running mate, it became clear that darker-than-Caucasian skin tone was a prerequisite in the eyes of a substantial faction of the party when a Gretchen Whitmer trial balloon was floated and quickly fell to earth. In the end, Kamala Harris, daughter of Tamil and Jamaican immigrants, was deemed by Biden's handlers to be acceptably melanin-rich. After all, Barack Obama was also biracial and passed muster, so why not Kamala? But in fairness, Obama actively courted identification as African-American by attending Rev. Wright's Trinity United Church for years and marrying Michelle Robinson, while Harris married a Jewish Hollywood lawyer and for years enthusiastically prosecuted crime, leading to what is now deemed "over-incarceration."
In her acceptance speech Wednesday night, Senator Harris gave a subtle verbal shout-out to the perceived Indian-American voting bloc, a Democrat leaning constituency that Trump has also heavily courted with his Howdy Modi extravaganza.
As she accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday night, California Sen. Kamala D. Harris recounted how she had been taught to "put family first."
That includes both "the family you're born into and the family you choose," she said, before listing out members in both categories: Family is her husband and her two stepkids. Her sister, her sorority, her best friend, her godchildren. And then, she added, "Family is my uncles, my aunts and my chittis."
That last word, a Tamil term of endearment for the younger sisters of one's mother, was met with a fierce outpouring of pride across social media on Wednesday night.
For many Tamil Americans, Harris's use of சித்தி — which can also be spelled out phonetically in English as "citti," or "chitthi" — was more than just another word for "auntie." It was a small but significant way for the vice-presidential candidate to say, before an audience of millions, that she is one of them, too.
Cue the media stories of people "back home" in India celebrating Kamala's honor. Pay no attention to the multiracial and multicultural nature of India, where Hindi-speakers are most numerous and Tamils are only the sixth largest linguistic group.
But the question lingers of whether or not Kamala's skin tone qualifies her in the eyes of black voters. It is a highly sensitive topic that whites rarely dare even touch upon, but the status of lighter- versus darker-shade African-Americans occasionally seeps into the mainstream media when it is politically useful. For example, this 2012 CNN article:
Acura found itself in a bit of hot water this week when it was revealed that a casting agency in Los Angeles only desired light-skinned African-American actors for the company's Super Bowl commercial featuring Jay Leno and Jerry Seinfeld.
The company apologized, but that hasn't stopped a lot of the chatter criticizing Acura for not doing more to keep the casting agency in check. This really isn't a new story considering how many times in the past we've heard similar stories, including that advertising agencies have non-urban dictates like refusing to buy advertising space on black-focused radio, TV, magazine and online properties.
Worldwide, nearly $500 million is spent on bleaching products, an effort for people with darker skin to lighten their skin. (snip)
The effects of this mindset are examined in the documentary "Dark Girls," produced by actor/director Bill Duke and directed by Chan Berry.
"Dark Girls" explores the pain that is associated with having dark skin ...
So is Kamala dark enough to assuage the pain "associated with having dark skin"?
As a Euro-American, I have no idea and probably am not allowed to express any opinion as far as the Democrats are concerned, but I will be watching closely the product positioning of Senator Harris.