We sis­ters know: Ka­mala Har­ris is bat­tle-hard­ened for this elec­tion

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - LAURA WASH­ING­TON lauraswash­ing­ton@aol.com | @Me­di­aDervish Laura Wash­ing­ton is a colum­nist for the Chicago Sun-Times and a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst for ABC7-Chicago.

She is tough, ag­gres­sive, fear­less. A Black woman must be. And that is why Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, the pre­sumed Demo­cratic vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, is the quin­tes­sen­tial VP pick for our times.

These are in­cen­di­ary times, make-or-break times. The fall pres­i­den­tial cam­paign will be bru­tal.

We sis­ters know. African Amer­i­can women have been bat­tle-hard­ened by the racism and sex­ism we have en­dured for cen­turies.

Last week, Joe Bi­den, the pre­sumed Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, tapped Har­ris, the for­mer Cal­i­for­nia at­tor­ney general and San Fran­cisco district at­tor­ney.

When Har­ris hit the hus­tings, Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump’s sex­ist and racist in­sult ar­se­nal was al­ready loaded and ready.

The vile broad­sides rolled out. “Nasty” seems to be Trump’s fa­vorite ad­jec­tive for Har­ris, a re­cy­cled in­sult lev­eled at the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee in 2016. Trump’s puny vo­cab­u­lary does not have enough band­width for new ma­te­rial.

On Wed­nes­day, Eric Trump, one of the pres­i­dent’s sons, “fa­vor­ited a tweet, which was later deleted, that re­ferred to Ms. Har­ris as a ‘whoren­dous pick,’ ” the New York Times re­ported.

On Fri­day, the Trump/Pence cam­paign dis­patched a fundrais­ing email that high­lighted the Har­ris pick. It warned: “It’s go­ing to be up to Pa­tri­ots like YOU to save our Nation from that dark fate, Friend.”

The Trumpers are ea­gerly spread­ing vi­cious “birther” lies on so­cial me­dia. They posit that Har­ris is not el­i­gi­ble to serve as vice pres­i­dent or pres­i­dent be­cause her par­ents were not Amer­i­can cit­i­zens.

For the record, Har­ris was born of im­mi­grant par­ents, in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia. Her mother, a can­cer re­searcher from In­dia, her fa­ther, a Black economist from Ja­maica. Har­ris is a nat­u­ral-born Amer­i­can ci­ti­zen.

Oth­ers whis­per that her mixe­drace her­itage means that Har­ris is “not Black enough.”

Trump and his ilk tried those tropes years ago on a Black pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Barack Obama. It did not work.

No mat­ter. Black women are born and bred for these mo­ments.

U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly knows. I asked Kelly if she had any ad­vice for Har­ris. Kelly is the first African Amer­i­can woman to be elected to Illi­nois’ 2nd Con­gres­sional District, which spans parts of Chicago’s South Side and south sub­urbs.

“Some­one told me when I ran, ‘just put on your bat­tle jacket …’ ” Kelly said Thurs­day on “At the Vir­tual Ta­ble,” the Chicago Sun-Times’ on­go­ing se­ries on pol­i­tics and pub­lic pol­icy.

Kelly has worked with Har­ris in Con­gress.

“She’s smart, she’s tena­cious, she knows what she’s do­ing, so I have no fear that she can’t han­dle what they say.”

Har­ris will do Har­ris be­cause Black women pos­sess ti­ta­ni­um­grade ar­mor, for­ti­fied by racial and sex­ual op­pres­sion.

We en­dure, strive and ex­cel when the worst is hurled our way. From the times of slav­ery to now, African Amer­i­can women have been fight­ing their way up from the bottom of ev­ery Amer­i­can eco­nomic in­di­ca­tor.

We rise, pro­pelled by the fuel of op­pres­sion.

Bi­den learned that at a de­bate last year, dur­ing Har­ris’ break­out mo­ment in the Demo­cratic nom­i­nat­ing cam­paign.

Har­ris, the only Black woman on the stage, exquisitel­y pros­e­cuted Bi­den’s record on race, at­tack­ing his po­lit­i­cal ties to South­ern white seg­re­ga­tion­ists and his op­po­si­tion to school bus­ing in the 1970s and 1980s.

The mo­ment did not win her the nom­i­na­tion, but it should send the mes­sage that she is ready for the racist and sex­ist on­slaught to come.

Har­ris “makes them ner­vous,” Kelly said.

She should.

CAROLYN KASTER/AP

Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den (left) looks on as his run­ning mate, Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris, D-Calif., speaks Thurs­day at the Ho­tel DuPont in Wilm­ing­ton, Delaware.

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