Kamala Harris becomes first Black woman, South Asian elected US Vice President

UNITED STATES –  Kamala Harris has become vice-president-elect of the US, the first time in history that a woman, and a woman of color, has been elected to such a position in the White House.

Joe Biden won the presidency by clinching Pennsylvania and its 20 electoral votes on Saturday morning, after days of painstaking vote counting following record turnout across the country. The win in Pennsylvania took Biden’s electoral college vote to 284, surpassing the 270 needed to win the White House.

Shortly after the race was called Harris tweeted out a statement and video. “This election is about so much more than @JoeBiden or me,” she said. “It’s about the soul of America and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started.”

Similarly, president-elect Biden released a statement calling for unity.

“The work ahead of us will be hard, but I promise you this: I will be a President for all Americans — whether you voted for me or not,” Biden said in a statement.

Harris, a former California senator who is of Indian and Jamaican heritage, will also be the first woman of mixed race to serve as vice-president. If she became president she would be the first female president, and the second biracial president in American history, after Barack Obama.

Women have run for president or run on major party presidential tickets before, the most recent being Hillary Clinton. Carly Fiorina was named as Texas senator Ted Cruz’s running mate in the 2016 presidential election in that year’s Republican primary before Donald Trump won the party’s nomination.

Sarah Palin was the last woman to run as a vice-presidential nominee on a major party presidential ticket in a general election. Palin, while governor of Alaska, was part of the late Arizona senator John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.

But Harris is the first woman in American history ever to run on a successful presidential ticket.

Harris herself ran for president in the 2020 Democratic primary but struggled to gain traction in the large field, and dropped out of the race months before Biden was named the party’s presidential nominee.

On the campaign trail, Harris has brushed off questions about whether she was introspective about her heritage and race. In 2019, Harris said she did not agonize over how to categorize herself.

Kamala Harris (centre) hugs Democratic presidential candidate and former vice-president Joe Biden after she endorsed him at a campaign rally at Renaissance High school in Detroit, Michigan, in March 2020.

“So much so,” Harris told the Washington Post in February 2019, “that when I first ran for office that was one of the things that I struggled with, which is that you are forced through that process to define yourself in a way that you fit neatly into the compartment that other people have created.”

Harris added: “My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it.”

Harris was born in Oakland, California, and is the child of immigrant parents. She has one sister, Maya, a lawyer and political analyst. On the campaign trail, Harris rarely discussed her thoughts on her racial heritage in detail, but she has regularly described her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan who was born in India, as a mentor.


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