Kamala Harris isn’t chill. I know -- it sucks. Trolls can say it’s reductive to vote for someone because of the color of their skin, or gender they express, but after 46 (is that right? Is it more than that?!) white men, I think we can safely put that bad faith argument to bed.
Kamala Harris is a mixed race black woman who has climbed the ranks to become a political power player, and now a 2020 presidential hopeful.
And it’d be really fucking cool to have a mixed race black woman as president in 2020.
But the reason it’d be cool to have, say, a mixed race black woman as president, is because their political platform would hopefully more closely reflect the needs and interests of people whose experiences have been ignored for so long. And Harris claims this has been her mission, writing in her book:
"The job of a progressive prosecutor is to look out for the overlooked, to speak up for those whose voices aren't being heard, to see and address the causes of crime, not just their consequences, and to shine a light on the inequality and unfairness that lead to injustice."
But when you take a closer look at this “progressive prosecutor,” you start to realize how oxymoronic of a title that is.
The job of a prosecutor is to represent the state when it brings a case against someone. That means that they need to have a close relationship with the police and the justice departments.
This is clearly a tense subject -- many people argue there’s no just way to interact with the carceral state as it stands and still consider yourself ‘progressive.’ Others have more lenient views concerning the role of a prosecutor.
Either way, Kamala Harris does not have the glowingly progressive track record she posits.
When it comes to issues of endangered communities, Harris has repeatedly denied people their rights in favor of supporting the police state and its reductively harsh policies. For instance, she ran a public campaign against the popular website Backpage -- which was, until recently, used by many sex workers as a resource to avoid dangerous customers (thanks for that, too, Kamala) -- going so far as to spearhead the arrest of its executives when she knew such an arrest would ultimately prove to be not only fruitless and harmful, but illegal.
Meanwhile, when an actual underage sex-trafficking scandal implicated dozens of police officers and other local authorities inthroughout the San Francisco Bay Area,. Harris’s office refused to step in and help, despite pleas from the public for an impartial, outside investigation.
In another instance of bizarre posturing, Harris challenged the release of a man who had been exonerated by the Innocence Project, and had his conviction overturned. She argued that Daniel Larsen, who spent 13 years in prison for the crime of possessing a concealed knife, had not “produced evidence of his innocence fast enough.”
It’s this type of hypocrisy that one needs to notice when it comes to a candidate like Harris: a candidate whose actual personal politics clearly can’t be reconciled with what we might want her personal politics to be.
It would be really, really nice to see any black woman in the oval office, but not at the expense of other black people -- who are already incarcerated anywhere from five to ten times more than their white peers. A shady track record of siding with harsh, “Law and Order”-esque policies, paired with a history of hypocritical political posturing, do not paint Harris as the progressive prison abolitionist we so desperately need.
In the words of Audre Lorde, “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" -- especially if you elect the person who loves to imprison whomever the master tells them to.