“A Good Day for Our Country”: Feminists React to Kamala Harris for VP

Biden Picks Kamala Harris for VP: Feminists React
(Gage Skidmore / Flickr)

After months of anticipation and speculation, Democratic nominee Joe Biden announced Tuesday his running mate for the 2020 election will be Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

Sen. Harris, a former California attorney general and 2020 presidential hopeful, has long been a top contender for VP pick. She was just one of a number of prominent Black women politicians who were in the running for the spot, including Susan Rice and Stacey Abrams. Harris is both the first Black woman and South Asian American to be nominated by a major party for a presidential race.

Feminists React to Biden’s Announcement

In celebrating Harris’s nomination, feminist leaders cited her track record on issues such as reproductive rights and police reform.

“In the past months, Senator Harris has taken a stand against police brutality in the streets and in the Senate. Her work to understand the struggles of the women of color leading the movement on the ground is what sets her apart in this critical moment. The data has shown that when women of color are inspired to get out to vote in higher numbers, Democrats win. This November, we will do it again.”

—Aimee Allison, founder of She the People.

“I am thrilled about this historic nomination of Senator Kamala Harris and know that she will be an excellent vice president. She’s had a brilliant career as a district attorney, attorney general of the largest state in the union, and as a U.S. Senator has distinguished herself with her masterful interrogation of witnesses in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Harris is a leading proponent of human rights and has been at the forefront of the fight for racial justice, reproductive rights, and gender equality.”

—Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority.

“It’s incredible to have a VP candidate who does not believe in abortion restrictions of any kind and who co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act. During her campaign, she also pledged to require, for the first time, that states and localities with a history of violating Roe v. Wade obtain approval from her Department of Justice before any abortion law or practice can take effect. 

“As someone who has personally worked alongside Kamala Harris, I’ve witnessed her leadership on reproductive justice. We’re thrilled by the choice. 

“Alongside Harris, we need Vice President Biden to show that this pick is more than just a gesture. If he is going to be a true champion for women, people of color, and underrepresented folks, we need to see that reality boldly reflected in his policy platforms. And in light of the DNC’s disappointingly inadequate 2020 platform on reproductive freedom, it becomes all the more crucial that Biden and the presidential ticket lead on this issue.”

—Heidi Sieck, co-founder/CEO of #VoteProChoice.

“…Sen. Harris brings tremendous strength to this campaign and will galvanize voters who are gravely concerned about the crisis in reproductive freedom we face.

“Americans are struggling. They are looking for compassion and conviction in their leaders, instead of the cruelty and cronyism that has defined the Trump administration. Vice President Biden and Sen. Harris have shown that they listen to women and families and support policies to help us get ahead—not to grind an ideological ax that is about maintaining control.”

—Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America

“This is a historic choice that shows how serious Vice President Biden and his administration will be in having women and Black, brown and Indigenous people in important decision-making roles.

“We cannot stop here. It’s critical that women are at the table throughout the government, and we look forward to Vice President Biden’s team continuing to select women, particularly women of color, for key leadership and cabinet positions.”

—A’shanti F. Gholar, president of Emerge.

“We commend presidential candidate Joe Biden on selecting Kamala Harris as the vice presidential candidate. His decision to choose a woman of color as his running mate affirms the power of women leaders and of the movement for racial justice, as well as the centrality of the votes of Black women. 

“Family Values @ Work joins with the host of women’s groups who have raised alarms about the many signs of misogyny and white supremacy that have emerged in the discussion of candidates. As a non-partisan network, we will remain vigilant for evidence of racial or gender bias against candidates of either party and urge the media to do so as well.” 

Family Values @ Work.

In anticipation of yesterday’s announcement, the release of last week’s “We Have Her Back” letter implored media outlets to be cognizant of the dangers of sexist tropes and stereotypes in the language they use in covering Biden’s veep pick.

And sure enough, this election is already gearing up to be a rhetorical battleground—shortly after Biden’s announcement, the Trump campaign dropped an attack ad calling Harris “phony” (and Biden “slow”), which sent the phrase “Phony Kamala” trending on Twitter.

In the wake of this summer’s protests, racial injustice is set to be a major topic of contention this election cycle. And record numbers of women of color are running for office this November, at a time when the number of women in Congress stands at 23.7 percent (of which 48, or 37.8 percent, are currently women of color).

With the Democratic national convention coming up next week, Biden’s announcement heralds the beginning of campaigning in earnest.


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About

Oliver Haug is an editorial intern with Ms. Magazine and a recent graduate of Smith college. Their writing has previously appeared in Autostraddle and the New York Times' newsletter "The Edit." You can read more of their work at oliverhaug.contently.com, and follow them on twitter here.