Kamala Harris: Our Fearless Vice President

Kamala Harris: Our Fearless Vice President

Kamala Harris is used to fearlessly breaking barriers. She was the first woman and first person of color to be elected as district attorney of San Francisco and the first again to be elected Attorney General of California. She was California’s first black senator and first Indian-American senator. And now she is the first female vice-president. She’s also the first Black and South Asian person to hold the office.

“While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,” she promised the crowd at her November victory speech. “Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.”

When Kamala was born in in 1964, no one like her held high office. Both her parents were immigrants studying at the University of California Berkeley: her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, from southern India and her father, Donald Harris, from Jamaica. Both went on to achieve the American dream: her mother as a breast cancer researcher and her father as an economics professor at Stanford University.

 

Her name Kamala means “lotus” in Sanskrit and is another name for the Hindu deity Lakshmi. Her middle name, Devi, translates to “goddess” in Sanskrit. “A culture that worships goddesses produces strong women,” the late Gopalan explained in a Los Angeles Times interview in 2004.

Kamala lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Doug Emhoff, and children Ella and Cole Emhoff, who call her “Momala.” Her long history of fighting for justice began when her parents took her to civil rights marches in her stroller. As a toddler, she was so familiar with protest chants that when her mother asked her “What do you want, Kamala?” Her response was “FEE-DOM!”

Later, when she was 13, Kamala and Maya led a demonstration in front of their Montreal apartment building in protest of the policy that banned children from playing on the lawn. The owners eventually reversed the policy.

As San Francisco district attorney, Kamala started a program to provide first-time drug offenders second chances with the opportunity to earn a high school degree and find a job. As California’s Attorney general, she won a $20 billion settlement for California homeowners against big banks who were unfairly foreclosing on family homes.

As senator, she fought for equal pay for equal work, writing in Teen Vogue : “Our daughters should not grow up believing that their work is worth less than a man’s. It’s time to end this fundamental unfairness. It’s time to make equal pay a reality for all Americans.”

Kamala understands that her presence in the executive branch is powerful symbol for all the people who have not seen themselves represented at the pinnacle of power: women, black Americans, south Asians, children of immigrants, stepmothers in blended families, and kids with divorced parents. 

“Yes, sister, sometimes we may be the only one that looks like us walking in that room,” she told an audience in Fort Worth. “But the thing we all know is we never walk in those rooms alone. We are all in that room together.”

 

At Girl Up, we are dedicated to making sure that every girl has the chance to follow Kamala into those rooms. Every day we are working to advance gender equality and leadership development worldwide by supporting the Girl Up initiative of the United Nations Foundation.

Our Fearless Girl collection pays tribute to fearless girls and the confident women they become all over the world. We hope wearing it makes you feel invincible enough to overcome any obstacle. And you’ll be sharing your strength with girls around the world: 5% of your purchase goes to fund Girl Up programs that empower girls to become the leaders of our future.

Kamala has dedicated her life to make sure that when she is the first to do something, she won’t be the last. In 2019, she celebrated the pioneers who made her success possible in a children’s book Superheroes Are Everywhere. In the book, she wrote about how heroism is more about choice and character than capes. "Heroes stand up for what is right. Who stands up for what is right in your life?" it says, while introducing kids to the heroes of her life.

She says she’ll be thinking about one of those heroes, her mother, on inauguration day. She’ll also be thinking at the children watching her break that glass ceiling.

"I'll be thinking about all those girls and boys" Harris said. "You know, before the pandemic struck, fathers and the mothers that would bring them around and say, 'You know, you can do anything.'"

She has a message for the young people who see her as their superhero.

“Dream with ambition, lead with conviction, and see yourselves in a way that others may not, simply because they've never seen it before,” she said. “But know that we will applaud you every step of the way.”

Blog post written by Cheryl Kremkow

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Image courtesy of Vanderbilt University

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