Is Kamala Harris A Good Role Model For The Modern Woman?

I have written several articles on postings related to politicians. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address different aspects on these politicians.

Kamala Harris should by all rights be a role model for young women and should also be the model for the modern woman. But alas, she is not, and that is not only my opinion. I know this article will probably be unpopular, but, I am not forcing anyone to read it.

It has been alleged that Harris used her sexual wiles to gain a position of power. The target was Am Willie Brown a speaker of the California Assembly and future Mayor of San Francisco. Harris was an assistant district attorney in the 1990’s.

There are photos on Facebook that show Harris with Brown, they were supposed to be when he was still married. However, a Reuters Fact Check proved that they were taken after he was legally separated.

Kamala Harris did have a relationship with Willie Brown, who later served as San Francisco’s mayor, between 1994 and 1995. The Los Angeles Times first linked the pair in 1994  when Harris, beginning her career in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, was 29 and Brown, speaker of the California State Assembly, was 60.  The claim Harris “had an affair with a married man” is technically true. But given Brown had been separated from his wife for more than a decade, the claim is misleading. Harris and Brown’s relationship was not secret and they made public appearances as a couple. Brown went on to serve as mayor of San Francisco from 1996 to 2004. In 2003, Harris would become the district attorney of the state and county of San Francisco.

So it can be argued that her relationship with Brown helped her career. However, nobody can deny that she did not have the pedigree to handle her position in the state. She has degrees from Howard University and he University of California Hastings College of Law. Journalist Keith Best stated that Harris “…will be an inspiration to young girls by showing that if you sleep with the right powerfully connected men then you too can play second fiddle to a man with dementia. It’s basically a Cinderella story.” TV commentator Tomi Lahren of Fox News fame also made similar claims. Both of these individuals have faced censor for their views.

So far I have not provided any real proof of the claim that she used her body to gain power. It has been all anecdotal so far, just opinions of individuals. Certainly the time line does not support the claims. As I stated in previous articles, I try not to go into a article with a bias. However, I am only human, but I am big enough to admit when I am wrong. One other claim I will make is that I follow the facts wherever they take me. I have no problem eating crow. So let us investigate her record as an assistant DA to see if he mercurial rise was warranted. We have already established that she had the pedigree.

According to the State of California Department of Justice website, Harris worked in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office from 1990 to 1998, more than a decade before Grant’s fatal shooting in 2009. She joined the office after graduating from University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She prosecuted child sexual assault cases. She served as deputy district attorney in Alameda County before leaving to work in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office. In 1998, Harris was named managing attorney of the Career Criminal Unit of the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, where she prosecuted three strikes cases and serial felony offenders. She then served as the head of the San Francisco City Attorney’s Division on Families and Children. In 2004-2010, Kamala Harris served as the first woman District Attorney in San Francisco’s history, and as the first African American woman and South Asian American woman in California to hold the office.

The influence of San Francisco king (and queen) maker Willie Brown

A little back tracking. Finding definitive information on her Alameda stint has proven to be more difficult than I though. I did find some information on Willie Brown and his influence on her career, though. Former state Assembly Speaker and San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown has helped accelerate many a successful political career in California (including that of current Gov. Gavin Newsom). Harris got a boost from Brown, too.

The relationship ended after two years, but her connection to Brown, three decades her senior, did have an outsized effect on her career.

“I would think it’s fair to say that most of the people in San Francisco met her through Willie,” John Burton, who used to be president pro tem of the state Senate, former chair of the California Democratic Party and a San Francisco political powerhouse in his own right, told Politico recently.

The Speaker gave Harris a couple plum positions on two state regulatory boards — the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission. “If you were asked to be on a board that regulated medical care, would you say no?” Harris told SF Weekly a few years later.

Harris’ connection to Brown also helped her make connections across San Francisco high-society and California political elite.

But from the beginning of her political career, Harris has seen her connection with Brown as a liability — a cudgel that opponents can use against her and, at worst, a tired, sexist trope used to question the legitimacy of her ascendant career. In the first run for office to become San Francisco’s District Attorney, Harris deliberately hired a campaign consultant known for working with clients outside the Brown political machine. During that same campaign, she described her past relationship with the former Speaker and Mayor as “an albatross hanging around my neck.”

So while Willie did not appoint her to any positions, her relationship did not exactly hurt her career. Did she enter the relationship with Brown with advancement in mind, only Harris can say for sure. So, without definitive proof to the contrary I will have to give her the benefit of the doubt and say that she did not intentionally use her relationship with him to advance her career. So I will say that she did not sleep her way to the top. Though she is still not out of the weeds so to speak. There are allegations of lying to get her way and to advance her career. She has been divisive in many of her speeches. She has repeatedly stated that she wanted to bring our country back together, but has done little to further that supposed goal. During her one and only debate with Pence, she played fast and loose with historical facts to further her point. She has failed to be transparent and has chosen to avoid multiple questions on her political agenda during the election campaign, much like her partner, Biden has done. While there is no evidence of illegal activities in her past, such as the Biden family, there has been questions of her ethics. Below I have included some of her political activities, so that the reader can make an educated decision about her role model status.

A lack of clarity

You saw it in the presidential race. As the New York Times once put it: “the content of her message remains a work in progress.” We saw it before in California.

There was the proposal to force police departments to gather data on the ethnicity and race of the civilians they stop. Harris also declined to take a position. It passed anyway.

And on the biggest criminal justice overhaul in California in a generation, Harris also kept mum.

Prompted by a judicial decree that the state had to dramatically cut the population of its overcrowded prison system, “realignment” was a package of state policies passed in 2011 that shifted tens of thousands of inmates out of state custody and into county jails or onto the rolls of local probation systems.

Despite in many ways reflecting the lessons described in her book Smart on Crime, which argued that non-violent criminals can be redirected into less punitive systems without jeopardizing public health, Harris, the state’s top law enforcement officer, was silent on the policy.

That earned a rebuke from the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, which wrote in its endorsement of her 2016 Senate candidacy that Harris “has been too cautious and unwilling to stake out a position on controversial issues, even when her voice would have been valuable to the debate.”

What some critics call prevarication or flip-floppery, her supporters call pragmatism. Those are just two ways of describing the same quality, said Corey Cook, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College and a longtime observer of San Francisco politics.

““The idea that she would have consistent positions on issues informed by ideology isn’t who she is,” said Cook. Harris may appear to pick her battles, he said, because for her “the only lasting solutions are going to be the ones that are able to sustain a majority coalition of support.”

One place Harris left a mark: sex crimes, domestic violence and child abuse

Harris has never shied away from the “tough on crime” label when it comes to a certain class of criminals: domestic violence perpetrators, child abusers and sex traffickers.

After nearly a decade in Alameda County and a short stint as a deputy district attorney in San Francisco (she left, calling the leadership there “dysfunctional”), in 2000, Harris joined the San Francisco city attorney’s office under Louise Renne.

Renne said she was looking for someone to head the office’s Child and Family Service unit, which investigates child abuse cases. This was not considered a prestigious post. Prosecutors inside the unit had taken to calling it “kiddie law.”

Renne thought Harris, who had focused on child abuse and sexual exploitation cases in Alameda County, would be a good fit.

That instinct was confirmed on Harris’ first day on the job, Renne said, when a number of children who had been separated from their parents were formally adopted into new families.

“She comes into my office and says ‘Come on, Louise, we’ve got to go over to court. There are going to be adoptions today,’ and she had all these teddy bears,” Renne recalled. “She knew the occasion. She knew it was an important one and it should be celebrated.”

Harris’ focus on the victims of abuse and exploitation continued after she was elected as San Francisco’s District Attorney.

“I don’t know what the term “teenage prostitute” means. I have never met a ‘teenage prostitute.’ I have met exploited kids,” Mesloh, then Harris’ communications director, recalls her boss saying at her first all-staff meeting. Harris then ordered her prosecutors not to use the term in court. A year later, Harris sponsored a bill putting the crime of human trafficking into the state criminal code.

But using the full force of the law to penalize pimps, traffickers and other abusers has earned Harris some criticism from civil libertarians and from advocates for sex workers.

“Smart on Crime”

One of the reasons Harris became known as a rising-star District Attorney was her focus on prevention, which she explained in her book, Smart on Crime, written in 2009, the year before she ran for attorney general.

“Public health practitioners know that the most beneficial use of resources is to prevent an outbreak, not to treat it,” Harris wrote. “Instead of just reacting to a crime every time it is committed, we have to step back and figure out how to disrupt the routes of infection.”

Harris’ “Back on Track” program, considered the most successful implementation of this idea, redirected first-time, non-violent drug offenders into supervised education, job training courses, therapy sessions and life skills classes. It was a modest program, but a novel one compared to what most other big city law enforcement officers were doing in 2005.

“In that time period, I think that she was a radical,” said Mesloh. The program has since been emulated by cities around the country. When Harris became attorney general, she launched a similar pilot program for Los Angeles County.

Harris’ focus on prevention produced some of her key accomplishments as district attorney. But in the context of the presidential race, some of those same accomplishments struck many critics as overly punitive.

Harris has (almost) always opposed capital punishment

Her opposition to the death penalty has been one of the boldest and most controversial stands in her career, but it’s also an example for those who criticize her lack of clarity.

On April 10, 2004, three months after her inauguration as San Francisco’s new district attorney, 29-year-old police officer Isaac Espinoza was gunned down by a 21-year-old with an AK-47. Three days later, Harris made good on a campaign promise and vowed not to seek the death penalty for the shooter. David Hill was later convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

The decision engendered a predictably fierce backlash from the police union and rebukes from politicians. “This is not only the definition of tragedy,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said at Espinoza’s funeral, “it’s the special circumstance called for by the death penalty law.” The assembled officers cheered while Harris remained seated. Some of Harris’ critics say she has wavered in tougher political circumstances.

Her biggest accomplishment as AG: She’s willing to walk away

Harris’ biggest accomplishment while California’s attorney general was to secure a financial settlement with some of the country’s largest banks accused of illegally foreclosing on homeowners.

In September 2011, Harris pulled out of ongoing negotiations between attorneys general from nearly every US state and the five banks, calling the proposed deal of $2-to-$4 billion “crumbs on the table.”

Harris was not the first attorney general to walk away, but the departure of the country’s largest state seemed to have its intended effect.

A few months later, with California back in the mix, a new deal was struck. This time, California got $20.2 billion in debt reductions and direct financial assistance.

Still, some consumer groups and outside experts were critical of the deal, arguing that the banks would have been forced to write off much of that bad debt eventually. “All sizzle, no steak,” is how Georgetown law professor Adam Levitin put it.

Kamala Harris’s Back on Track Program

Back on Track is a reentry program that diverts young non-violent first-time drug offenders from prison back to productive life.

Harris states she “…started a program that gives first-time drug offenders the chance to earn a high school diploma and find employment.”

“We charge them for committing a crime,” she said. “They go to a courtroom and plead guilt because they did commit a crime. This is about accountability. There’s no fiction here. You did commit a crime. Accept it. Own up to it. Then let’s talk about what we can do to change circumstances going forward.”

Harris continued, “Everyone at Back on Track is either full-time in school, full-time employed or a combination. What they are required to do is all of the steps that we create to allow them to be productive and to reduce likelihood of re-offending.”

Kamala Harris as California Attorney General

She said, “As one of two daughters who met when they were active in the civil rights movement at UC Berkeley. I am very proud of the work we have done as a state recognizing that, what we do here can change the rest of the country, so goes California. So goes the rest of the country.”

Harris became California’s first female attorney general as well as minority attorney general as a Black and Indian-American woman.

California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights

As attorney general, Harris helped get the state’s Homeowner Bill of Rights into law in 2013. It gave homeowners who were at-risk of foreclosure some rights including:

-Bans dual-tracking so banks cannot foreclose on your home while you’re pursuing a loan modification
-Requires one single point of contact at the mortgage provider

-Increases penalties for the much criticized practice of robo-signing, which is automatic approval for foreclosure without reading documents
-Allows homeowners to sue for significant violations

“What we did today is we gave those families some promise that they can be in a system that allows them a fair opportunity,” Harris said back in July 2012.

Same-Sex Marriage

Harris has spoken against California’s Proposition 8 – which voters passed in 2008 banning same-sex marriages in California.

In June 2013, Attorney General Harris says rights of same-sex couples have been denied for a long time.

“Each day that passes when any individual is denied their civil liberties and civil rights is a sad day in our country and certainly in our state. And we know that these same sex couples have been denied equal protection under the law for far too long,” she said.

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed same-sex marriages to resume in California after a lawsuit filed by two couples against Prop 8 went to federal court.

Once the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco lifted the stay- Harris officiated a same-sex wedding for one of the plaintiffs at city hall in San Francisco.

Affordable Care Act

Harris has been a long supporter of Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). On March 2017, she said at a senate meeting the republican’s American Health Care Act bill (to repeal and replace ACA) favors health care companies instead of consumers, claiming it’s the opposite of the Affordable Care Act.

“I rise in strong opposition to the American Health Care Act. A callous and carelessly written bill that would roll back progress and strip health insurance from millions of Americans,” she said.

The American Health Care Act bill did not pass in the senate.

Kamala Harris Isn’t The South Asian Feminist Role Model We Want

There are two stories everyone seems to want to tell about Kamala Harris: the child of immigrants who rose to power, and the living embodiment of South Asian’s antiracism. But a quick look behind the headlines shows she is neither. Let’s look at each story in turn.  

First, she is cast as a child of immigrants who lives out the American Dream, going “From India and Jamaica to the doors of the White House in one generation.” Hard work and individual ‘grit’ and dedication to social justice raise her from (implied) humble beginnings to the heights of power. It doesn’t seem to matter that her humble origins are actually not that humble; that her Indian grandfather was a career civil servant who served as Under Secretary in the colonial Ministry of Transport and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Rehabilitation in the Indian government; or that her mother immigrated as part of an elite group of students who were able to enter the United States before the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 ended the 100-person cap on Indian immigration to the U.S.

More than three-quarters of the Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. the year Kamala Harris’s mother came were agricultural laborers. Their children might be cast in the feel-good stories about rising through hard work and grit alone, but Kamala Harris’ supper-caste Indian background and powerful relatives do not allow her to be cast in this role. These realities get in the way of good story-telling. We’d rather celebrate the U.S. as the Land of Opportunity than examine how caste privilege presents translates in the U.S. context

“It doesn’t seem to matter that Kamala Harris’ humble origins are actually not that humble; that her Indian grandfather was a career civil servant who served as Under Secretary in the colonial Ministry of Transport and Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Rehabilitation in the Indian government.

Then there is the second narrative: Kamala Harris as the emblem of South Asians’ affinity for social justice. This is perhaps most prevalent among Indian Americans and the more woke Indian feminists. We want her to represent the affinity between Indian Americans and the global Black freedom struggle. Because her parents met during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, and because by all accounts, her mother was invested in social justice (and even her high-ranking diplomat grandfather dedicated much of his career working on refugee resettlement in India and Zambia), we want her to be the living proof that regular Indians are on the right side of history in the struggle to make Black Lives Matter.

We want her to embody the principles of Afro-Asian solidarity we study in history texts or that we aspire to enact in our own lives. This desire lets us put aside the inconvenient truths of how her career was built on the backs of poor Black and brown people. She famously sponsored a truancy law that jailed parents whose children were found to be absent from school without ‘good reason.’ This is the sort of policy making that gave us the school-to-prison pipeline. It’s also the kind of thinking that turns poor children’s schools into mini-prisons whose main job is to warehouse them away from harmful influences until they are old enough to work, instead of actually preparing them for a future of self-determination. Kamala Harris is not the social justice warrior either the angry right or woke liberals want her to be. She did not use her leadership position as Attorney General of California to call for transparency and police accountability, even as the Black Lives Matter movement swelled across the country after the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Kamala Harris’s career is not a trajectory for South Asians who want to be in solidarity with Black women and other women of color in the U.S. or across the world.

She famously sponsored a truancy law that jailed parents whose children were found to be absent from school without ‘good reason.’ Kamala Harris’s career is not a trajectory for South Asians who want to be in solidarity with Black women and other women of color in the U.S. or across the world.

If we are looking for a common sense narrative that explains Kamala Harris’s rise to power, it cannot be the American Dream or even the South Asian American dream. Her career trajectory is actually an embrace of what we used to call the model minority myth; the idea that the achievements of some minorities (whether they are high-performing undocumented immigrants or highly educated, affluent Black people like the Obama family) are proof that our education system and political infrastructure are not rigged against poor Black and Brown people, and also proof that the people who aren’t able to rise through the ranks of this fictitious meritocracy are the problem and not centuries of systematic dispossession and disfranchisement.

Kamala Harris’ career shows us how, if we use our privileges correctly, play by the rules, don’t scare white people by making radical claims (for example, that poor Black people matter every bit as much as any wealthy person); if we are willing to put our smiling ‘diverse‘ faces as stamps of approval on white supremacist policies, we too can be the face of white supremacist mass incarceration. Kamala Harris, as the California attorney general, repeatedly defied a 2011 US Supreme Court order to reduce the prisoner population in California’s prisons. Kamala Harris and her team filed motions which were seen as obstructionist and in bad faith and were indicative of her reliance on the prison and carceral justice.

Kamala Harris’ career shows us how, if we use our privileges correctly, play by the rules, don’t scare white people by making radical claims (for example, that poor Black people matter every bit as much as any wealthy person); if we are willing to put our smiling “diverse” faces as stamps of approval on white supremacist policies, we too can be the face of white supremacist mass incarceration.

To hold up Kamala Harris as a role model for young girls is to teach them that their humanity is a function of their capacity to dehumanize others. And what’s more, we don’t need her! We already have a plethora of progressive South Asian American, immigrant, and second-generation sheroes to emulate. We have Kshama Sawant (didn’t your amma have that same curtain somewhere in her house?), Pramila Jayapal (the only aunty I fear), Ilhan Omar,andRashida Tlaib to be role models for our political aspirations. These are women of color who see their freedom bound in the freedom of everyone else. They are not willing to pave their way to power by sacrificing the futures of Black and Brown boys and girls. We shouldn’t either.

Conclusion

Well, I have found little but anecdotal evidence on Harris’ ethics or her character. There seems to be little or no consensus on her qualities or whether or not she is a good role model for the modern woman. I have researched the subject to basically a standstill. I seem to find no definitive data for either side. As to many other women out there that people are using as role models she is certainly better than many and worse than some other choices. She has accomplished more than any other woman so far. She has shown drive and the willingness to do what it takes to gain advancement. Skills that would be lauded in the male population, so why should she be judged differently? Maybe she shouldn’t. I still have my doubts about her. I obviously don’t believe on her liberal views, but that doesn’t make her a bad person. So only time will tell, if her star will continue to rise, and whether or not she will do it with class or whether or not she will follow a more dark path. Because this is my blog and I can do what I want, I am going to ride the fence right now, that is until I have more data. So you can expect that there will be updates on the subject.

Resources

oregoncatalyst.com, “KAMALA HARRIS: NOT A ROLE MODEL FOR YOUNG WOMEN,” By Larry Huss; jsonline.com, “Republican official draws outrage for post accusing Kamala Harris of using sex to advance her career,” By Patrick Marley; reuters.com, “Fact check: Kamala Harris and Willie Brown had a relationship over a decade after he separated from wife,” By Reuters Staff; npr.org, “Let’s Talk About Kamala Harris,” By Gene Demby; msn.com, “FROM THE ARCHIVES: Here’s a look back at Kamala Harris’ career as SF district attorney, CA attorney general,: By Justin Mendoza; en.wikipedia.org, ” Kamala Harris,” By wikipedia editors; foxnews.com, “Kamala Harris’ career, from California district attorney to the Senate,” By Kaitlyn Schallhorn; nytimes.com, “Kamala Harris, a ‘Top Cop’ in the Era of Black Lives Matter,” By Emily Bazelon; apnews.com, “Kamala Harris not Alameda County DA when white officer shot Black man on train platform,” By Beatrice Dupuy; oag.ca.gov, “Kamala D. Harris, 32nd Attorney General;” record-bee.com, “What California knows about Kamala Harris,” By Ben Chrisptopher; abc7news.com, “FROM THE ARCHIVE: Here’s a look back at Kamala Harris’ career as SF district attorney, CA attorney general,”By Justin Mendoza; feminisminindia.com, “Kamala Harris Isn’t The South Asian Feminist Role Model We Want,” By Vineeta Singh;

Addendum:

I have found a new source of information, so I will include it.

Kamala Harris: Not a Role Model for Young Women

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was one of the early entrants in the Democrat primary sweepstakes. She was hailed by the mainstream media as the penultimate Democrat candidate because she ticked off all of the supposed credentials for a front runner: female, person of color, pro-abortion on demand, and a public employee all of her working life. She topped that off by being declared the single most liberal/progressive member of the United States Senate. And as result she has been celebrated as a role model for young women – particularly young women of color.

Well, not so fast. I am reluctant to comment on the qualities attendant to being a role model for women – you know, me being a man and all. It would be far better if a female commented – particularly an accomplished female. I chose my sister because I know the struggles she went through as a single mother raising children in the aftermath of a divorce, entering law school, starting a practice, becoming an expert litigator in her field and finally retiring as a successful and financially secure woman. And while her children were all sons, she now has granddaughters, nieces, and grandnieces galore – all of whom she dotes on with a grand touch. She epitomized the oft-repeated sobriquet that women needed to be twice as smart and work twice as hard and still only get half the credit. Other lawyers often learned too late that lesson when dealing with her.

So meet my sister, Elizabeth Huss. Her charge has been to evaluate Ms. Harris as a role model for young women.

Joe Biden, August 12. 2020, after announcing Sen. Kamala Harris is his choice of running mate.

During my lifetime I have witnessed and participated in much that our girls and young women can be inspired by: the rise in the Women’s Movement in the United States during the 1960’s; passage of the Equal Right Amendment in 1972; law schools readily accepting women students, law firms hiring women attorneys, more women serving in political office and most of all women achieving great success in their chosen careers and their personal lives. During my legal career, I fought years of prejudice against women attorneys that came from judges, fellow lawyers and clients. It was a struggle at times. But I relied on working the hardest and a good measure of Montana grit in pursuing my career on its successful path. I recite all this only because I believe it has earned me the stripes needed to say this: Kamala Harris is certainly not one to be held up as a “model” for young women and girls in today’s world. When reading the story of Kamala Harris, let’s not confuse ambition with “character,” opportunism with “hardworking” phony with “real” and receiving favors with “overcoming” in assessing whether this woman deserves to be emulated by girls and young woman, regardless of their skin color.

KAMALA: PHONY GHETTO GIRL

Kamala Harris’ so-called “inspirational” story begins when Kamala is just seven and heading off to her first day of school. To be inspired requires that we, first, imagine Kamala as an impoverished little colored girl living in a ghetto in Berkley California with her immigrant mother, abandoned by a deadbeat father, without hope of breaking the endless cycle of poverty facing her. NO hope, that is, until she is bused to a White School, presumably under Orders from the Government. Except that isn’t really the way it happened! Kamala Harris is not a woman of color who clawed her way up and out of the ghetto to become a U.S. Senator. Yes, she is a woman of color, having a mother who immigrated from India and a Jamaican father, and, yes, her parents were divorced. But it ends there. Kamala’s mother was a well-known cancer researcher from a wealthy diplomatic family in India. Her father was an economics professor at Stanford, whose family in Jamaica was also successful. Kamala’s mother initiated her divorce because she did not want to forego her own career to follow Kamala’s father to a new teaching job. Kamala lived in a middle class and integrated neighborhood in Berkley, had plenty to eat, nice clothes and took ballet lessons like many little girls across America. When she was 12, she moved to Canada with her mother and attended white-majority schools until her graduation from high school. As for the busing story, it was not Government ordered! It was an experimental program Berkeley was trying out and Kamala’s mother volunteered her daughter to participate. So the true story is that Kamala came from a solid middle class background or better, which afforded her far more opportunity than most – particularly most young girls of color. In truth, nothing about Kamala Harris’ childhood falls into the realm of being “overlooked” and “undervalued!”

KAMALA: PHONY OVERCOMING OBSTACLES

Fast forward in our “model” girl story to Kamala becoming a lawyer. Though she touted her ability to be educated in the same schools as Whites, when it came time for College, she chose to go to the historically Black Howard University located in Washington, D.C. It is not a bridge too far to believe that it was location that inspired Kamala’s College choice to a large degree. Notably, Kamala got herself an intern position with California Senator Alan Cranston while attending Howard and worked on the unsuccessful Jesse Jackson presidential campaign. There is no indication that Kamala excelled academically while at Howard. Instead she seemed more focused on being a campus activist.

Kamala returned to California after being admitted to the UC Hastings College of Law at Berkley through an affirmative action program known the Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP). The program was intended for law students who were “disadvantaged” educationally, economically or by a physical disability. What “disadvantages” the middle-class child of two PhDs, educated at the “Black Harvard” needed to overcome by acceptance into LEOP remain unknown. Nonetheless, LEOP law students were mentored, cared for, supported, tutored and counseled in every way during their tenure at Hastings, including special law class outlines, preparation for the bar exams and job interviews. Kamala graduated from Hastings in 1989 and sat for the California Bar Exam later that year. Despite all of the special privileges afforded her as a law student and a Pass Rate of over 72% for first time takers, she failed the California Bar Exam. Kamala eventually passed the Bar Exam and went to work for the District Attorney in Oakland, California. Her failure to pass the Bar Exam has been excused by noting that “others” such as Michelle Obama and John F. Kennedy Jr. also failed their Bar Exams.

Being a mediocre student, being coddled and given special treatment at law school and then failing despite that is not what young girls of any color should aspire to. It is certainly not an example of an “overlooked” and “undervalued!” young woman “overcoming” anything! So HOW did Kamala Harris get where she is now? The answer to that question leads us to the most important chapter of Kamala Harris’s rise to fame. It is answered in two words: Willie Brown!

Willie Brown might be described as Affirmative Action of a different sort, when it comes to Kamala Harris. This is THE Willie Brown, we are talking about, the powerful former Speaker of the House in California and subsequently Mayor of San Francisco. Kamala Harris’s extramarital affair with Willie Brown was well-known and both Willie Brown and Kamala Harris have acknowledged it. At that time, Willie Brown was widely viewed as the most powerful Democrat in California and a skillful politician who traded favors – including favors with a string of women other than his wife.

But let the August 13, 2020 edition of the Daily Mail describe the affair:

“When they met around 1993, Brown, a noted lawyer and civil rights leader, was the speaker of the California assembly and regarded as one of the State’s most influential legislators.

“He had turned 60 while Harris was 29.

“Brown was notorious for his love of Jaguar sports cars, flash designer suits – a look he dubbed ‘bold conservative’ despite his liberal leanings – and for being named one of the world’s ten sexiest men by Playgirl magazine.

“He had also been seen with a ‘succession’ of beautiful women despite having been married for decades. No wonder then that Clinton once dubbed Brown ‘the real Slick Wily.’

“’The measure of his flamboyance is he’ll go to a party with his wife on one arm and his girlfriend on the other,’ James Richardson, a reporter for the Sacramento Bee told People Magazine in 1996.

“Brown insisted that his dates should ‘absolutely be the best-dressed woman in the room,’ added Richardson, who published his own biography of Brown later that year.

“Harris, meanwhile, was regarded as a diligent and able prosecutor ‘on the way up’ at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, where she had worked for the previous three years.

“Brown had been publicly dating Harris for some time, but when Brown was inaugurated in 1996, his estranged wife Blanche was by his side after ‘splitting’ two years prior.

“As Brown’s ‘new steady’ she soon found herself rubbing shoulders with many of California’s political movers and shakers.

“As well as gifting his young squeeze a BMW car, the relationship reaped even more tangible benefits when Brown handed Harris two influential positions.

“’Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, continuing his rush to hand out patronage jobs while he retains his powerful post, has given high-paying appointments to his former law associate and a former Alameda County prosecutor who is Brown’s frequent companion,’ the Los Angeles Times noted in 1994.

“’Brown, exercising his power even as his speakership seems near an end, named attorney Kamala Harris to the California Medical Assistance Commission, a job that pays $72,000 a year.

“’Harris, a former deputy district attorney in Alameda County, was described by several people at the Capitol as Brown’s girlfriend.’

Brown also appointed Harris to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, a lucrative position worth a further $97,088 a year, according to the same article.”

KAMALA: AMBITION AND OPPORTUNISM

Thanks to Mr. Willie Brown, Kamala Harris walked away with a nice income from the State of California, a BMW and a little Black Book filled with the names of important and powerful political connections in California. There was no end to what those sorts of bona fides could do for a young woman with political ambitions of her own.

In 2003 Kamala, with the support of then Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, successfully ran for San Francisco District Attorney. According to Bill Fazio, one of Kamala’s opponents in the Election for District Attorney: “Kamala, she had connections to the mayor, which gave her access to a lot of money people up in Pacific Heights.” This sentiment has been confirmed on more than one occasion. In an August 17, 2019, Times of San Diego article detailing with Kamala Harris’s political rise, it cited this: “I would think it’s fair to say that most of the people in San Francisco met her through Willie,” John Burton, who used to be president pro tem of the state Senate, former chair of the California Democratic Party and a San Francisco political powerhouse in his own right, told Politico recently.
***
“Harris’ connection to Brown also helped her make connections across San Francisco high-society and California political elite. In 1996, a year after Brown became mayor and Harris broke off the relationship, she joined the board of trustees at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. . . .

“When Harris ran for San Francisco district attorney nearly a decade later, her first contribution came from Elaine McKeon, chair of the museum’s board. More—much more—poured in from donors with last names like Fisher, Getty, Buell, Haas, and other noble houses of the Bay Area.”

And so Kamala won the District Attorney race, not because of her storied legal career, but because she had been willing to become the paramour of a married man who was the most powerful political figure in California at the time. Kamala’s high profile status as the District Attorney secured her rise in California politics. From there, she was elected as the California Attorney General in 2011 and a few years later, as a U.S. Senator.

After only a few brief years as a first term U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris then decided she was ready to be the President of the United States. Perhaps the most telling indictment of Kamala Harris’ newly minted status as a role model for girls and young women is that she failed to capture even three percent of the vote during the Presidential primaries and was forced to quit early rather than face the indignity of losing to a number of other candidates in her own state primary. Apparently, the voters of this Country were not nearly as impressed with Kamala’s story as Joe Biden is!

So is the story of Kamala Harris the one that ought to be told to our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and other young girls who look to us for guidance as they grow up? I say, “NO, to Kamala Harris as a role model!” Kamala Harris did not have a rough life. She was not “overlooked” and “undervalued” as Joe Biden suggests. In fact, she started out better than most! Despite having few, if any, real obstacles to overcome in her personal life, Kamala Harris took the low road, rather than the high road, to make her way in her professional and political career.

My own experiences as a single mother, a law student and a struggling lawyer were not unique to the countless number of women who have encountered similar struggles, biases, and barriers in their adult lives. Most make the choice to pursue success through hard work, accepting risks, doubling down when the going gets tough, and standing up for themselves even when they had to shout to be heard. A few slept their way to the top – trading sex for advancement and miming the opinions of their patrons as if those were their own. Kamala Harris falls into this latter category. We can call her ambitious, ruthless, opportunist and even lucky. What we cannot and should not call her is a “role model” for our girls! The last thing in the world that I would suggest to the young women and girls in my family is that the way forward for women of integrity is by sleeping their way to success. Shame on Joe Biden for suggesting otherwise!”

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