Gillian Holte/Daily Minnesotan via NSPA
The ascendancy of Sen. Kamala Harris to the top of the Democratic White House ticket is viewed with mix pride and ambivalence among students and staff at Branham. Harris, of Jamaican and Indian descent, has deep roots in the Bay Area, gaining national attention as District Attorney in San Francisco, the state’s attorney general, and then as a senator for the state in 2016.
Though some are divided over her political record, she might bring Indian American voters out. A Washington Post survey showed that, on average, Asian American voters were measurably more likely to turn out if their district had a candidate of any Asian American background on the ballot.
Harris’ record as a prosecutor and attorney general her record are generally mixed. She struggled with prison reform, arguing against the early release of nonviolent offenders. However, she has adopted more progressive stances such as those on marijuana and racial bias and police brutality.
Junior Isha Chander, the ASB Spirit President involved in local politics, said was surprised at Harris’ nomination, given her history. However, seeing someone who looked like her rise to the top rungs of national politics is inspiring.
“As an Indian-American, it’s so cool,” Chander said. “obviously, it is a matter of a little bit of conflict because you know, I don’t agree with everything that she’s done … and her track record.”
Sophomore Arjun Mittha believes that Harris’ name on the Democratic ticket serves as a sign of tokenism, that she’s serving to bridge the divide.
“She is an African American lady, she’s an Indian American lady, she has a lot of cultural background, and she has a decent record in politics,” Mittha said. “When you look at her record on a lot of things such as criminal justice reform, police reform, marijuana charges.”
Though Mittha and Chander both find areas to critique Harris, they believe that she will unify other Indian Americans.
“She was born in the Bay Area, her parents are immigrants; that’s like me, too.” she said. “I was born in the Bay Area. My parents are immigrants. It’s just so interesting to see somebody who’s like you and you look at the TV and they’re giving speeches to the nation.”
Counselor Joyce Davis sees in Harris a strong and charismatic candidate who can help bridge race relations in this country.
“I know that she’s going to bring humanity and care and sensitivity and graciousness to back to the White House,” Davis so. “I’m happy. She’s also tough as nails.”