Even When One Drop Isn’t Enough

You *still* don’t get to decide who is and isn’t Black

It’s ironic how up until a few days ago, people were more than happy to refer to the junior representative from California as African American, some would even refer to her using the B-word, Black. But now that she’s presumptive Democratic nominee for vice president, haters and naysayers would like to deny her the identity she has claimed.

Puh-lease. These folks are probably of the same ilk who would deny that Serena Williams has won twenty-three Grand Slam titles or Condoleezza Rice was the first female African-American Secretary of State.

Connecting the dots will be quite simple. No mental gymnastics here. So I’ll be brief.

Kamala Harris was born in Oakland, California, which is still a part of the United States. So that makes her American. Still doubting, Thomas? Peep the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment. Need more proof? Check out the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark.

Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was born in the Republic of India. People from India are referred to as Indians. Since India is located in South Asia, it’s not inaccurate to say that nationals of the Republic of India are South Asian.

Harris’s father, Donald Jasper Harris, is Jamaican. Jamaicans are Black due to their African lineage. Where do you think their Blackness originated? It didn’t spring forth from the sea and arrive on the island nation’s shores on an open clamshell propelled by gentle tropical breezes. Come on now.

For those of you wondering how they met: Harris’s parents met while pursuing their doctorate degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. They weren’t migrant workers, nor were they trust fund babies. Doctorate degrees mean one thing: brainiacs.

And here you thought they met at a club or something scandalous.

People who have parents of different ethnicities often self-identify as mixed-race or biracial. Sometimes that even self-identify with one ethnicity or the other. Harris can be also viewed as mixed-race, biracial, Black and Indian, or Indian and Black. But she has often referred to herself as . . . Black.

Culture is also an indicator of how one identifies ethnically. Harris attended Howard University, a historically Black college/university, and was a member of a historically Black sorority. These are two major indicators of how Harris self-identifies . . . Black.

And let’s not forget this nation’s one-drop rule.

The Wrap-up

Kamala Harris has referred to herself as Black for as long as anyone can remember, and now . . . now that she’s in the running for the second most powerful position in these United States, people want to say she’s NOT Black? Just stop. Before Joe Biden chose Harris as his running mate, having one Black parent or skin lighter in color than a caramel latte didn’t inhibit folks from designating hundreds of thousands of people as Black. It’s time to end the debate. Frankly, the decision never was theirs—or anyone else’s—to make.

Ultimately, it comes down to this: Harris’s ethnicity/ethnicity is not absolute. A person’s heritage/ethnicity can be viewed a Venn diagram of sorts with portions of two distinct groups overlapping another while the whole of one may fit inside a larger whole.

The more important question is: Why are you hung up on the color of a person’s skin when the content of your own character should be your primary concern? Self-actualization is a full-time job in and of itself.

Check yourself. Your anti-Black and white-supremacist tendencies are on full display.

NOTE: Updated August 15 to include the third from the last paragraph.

Written by

Artist, actor, author, editorial director of Our Human Family (http://medium.com/our-human-family). Connect via social media: @clayrivers. Love one another.

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