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This is What Kamala Harris’ Historic Win Means to Me as a Black Mom + Lessons I'm Teaching My Children

By Michelle O'Brian.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008, is a day I'll never forget. Barack Hussein Obama defeated John McCain, and for the first time in American history, a Black man became president. I repeat: A Black man became president. After hearing the news, I wept. I watched my father, a 70-year-old Baltimorean who lived through a lifetime of discrimination — who was also present at the March on Washington in 1963 — become overwhelmed with joy. The mere thought of being alive during this historical moment was beyond our wildest dreams.

Fast forward to 2020 and another racial barrier was broken. Senator Kamala Devi Harris, a Black, Asian-American woman will officially be the 46th vice president of the United States.

Since Obama's inauguration, I've become a mom to two beautiful children. They mean so much to me and fighting for them to live in a world of non-judgment and anti-racism has been my mission.

While that chilly evening in 2008 is a day I'll never forget, Kamala's win in November feels even more germane. As a Black daughter, sister, aunt, and mother, her win feels personal. It's as if I won. And, in many ways I have. Kamala represents all Black women who have stood in the face of adversity. Kamala represents every Black woman who has come before us and is the hope for all future Black women in America.

Unlike me, my daughter will grow up having seen someone who looks like her lead a country in a prominent position in politics. What a time to be alive. What a time to be a Black mother. What a time to be a Black woman.

Sure there has been great criticism about how her actions as San Francisco's district attorney and California's attorney general have harmed Black people, and those are valid concerns. I get it. No one is perfect. And we should look for perfection in our leaders, but examine the bigger picture. How can they make a change for the better? What will life be like after they serve the country? Overall, I'm certain she will serve as one of the best vice presidents our country has ever seen. And I'm so proud.

Here are three life lessons I'm teaching my children because of this historic moment:

1. Believe that you can break new ground, too.

There's no doubt that Harris' win changes the way we think about leadership in America. Moving forward, America will be expecting to have a person of color, a WOMAN of color running for the Presidency. Of course, shattering a racial and gender barrier in American politics is no easy feat, but I want my children to know that if it's been done before, it can be done again. And again, and again. My children were destined to break barriers and I will help them believe that every step of the way.

2. Never listen to naysayers.

When rumors spread that Biden might choose Harris as his vice president, many didn't believe it. "It'll never happen," said a few close friends of mine. "America isn't ready for a Black woman in a leadership role." Boy were they wrong. I plan to teach my children to go after their dreams and fight for things they believe in, regardless of what others may say. My children are the change they wish to see in the world.

3. Always embrace your heritage.

Aside from being the first Black, South Asian, and female vice president, Harris is also the first graduate of a historically Black college and the first member of a Black sorority to be vice president. And through it all, she has remained authentic. She has owned her heritage, thus offering a beacon of hope for aspiring politicians and Americans in general. Although it isn't easy, young children need to embrace their heritage and take pride in who they are becoming.

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1 comment

  • So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

    Jasmine on January 30th, 2021