US Election 2020: Kamala Harris gives America a Second Family full of firsts
Kamala Harris’s husband Doug Emhoff on Saturday tweeted a picture of them hugging, a photo taken soon after she was projected as vice-president-elect of the US, with the words: “So proud of you”.
Harris was jogging when the news broke, and tweeted a video of a call with her boss, Joe Biden, “We did it, we did it Joe! You’re going to be the next President of the United States!”
Harris is a first in a number of ways: the first woman, the first Black person and the first Indian-American to serve the second highest office in the US.
Her husband will make history, too. He will be the first man and first Jewish person to serve as a spouse to a president or vice president. Harris is Baptist.
And everyone from political strategists to racial justice activists are waiting to see whether those firsts will be mere symbolic wins or the beginning of a sea change on gender and race relations and the launch of an enduring Democratic coalition.
The symbolism alone is important. Strategists say Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party. They vote in large numbers, help staff its volunteer efforts and power its wins in key races, but they have not always been well-represented among its candidates or in its policy decisions.
In an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes” last month, Harris vowed that she would bring her diverse perspective to the Biden administration. “What I will do, and I promise you this — and this is what Joe wants me to do, this was part of our deal — I will always share with him my lived experience as it relates to any issue that we confront,” she said. “And I promised Joe that I will give him that perspective and always be honest with him.”
That experience includes being the daughter of an Indian immigrant and a Jamaican-born father. She was raised biracial and interfaith. She is a Christian, but also attended Hindu temples with her mother.
That side of Harris’s background could help galvanise Asian-American voters, the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the US and one both Democrats and Republicans have tried to woo. That experience also means being the first graduate of a historically Black college in such a high office. Harris attended Howard University in Washington and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha, the nation’s oldest Black sorority. Members have turned up at her events and been active donors, many giving $19.08 to note the year the group was founded.
Harris, 56, has not shied away from using her background as a touchstone for outreach. She attended virtual campaign events with South Asian celebrities such as actress Mindy Kaling, comedian Aasif Mandvi and former US attorney and Trump antagonist Preet Bharara.
And she had a starring role in Biden campaign ads targeting both Black and Asian-American voters, including one that featured words in Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tamil, Hindi and Filipino.
Cheryl Hori, founder of Democratic consulting firm Pacific Campaign House, said, “This will be historic for Asian-Americans, full stop.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet will embark on a visit to China next week - from May 23 to May 28. As part of the visit, Bachelet's is scheduled to visit Guangzhou, Kashgar and the Xinjiang regional capital of Urumqi from where multiple reports of abuses of Uighur Muslims continue to surface.
Ahead of President Joe Biden's official launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) in Tokyo next week, the United States on Friday said that a “wide-ranging and comprehensive” set of countries are set to join the initiative and it will represent a significant milestone in US engagement in the region. India has not made an official decision on joining the pact, but New Delhi is examining the framework “positively”.
China on Friday hit out at Canada for banning Chinese telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE from Canadian 5G networks, warning of retribution and signalling a fresh bout of diplomatic tension between Beijing and Ottawa. Citing national security issues, Canada on Thursday said it plans to ban the use of China's Huawei Technologies' and ZTE Corp' 5G gear, joining the rest of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing network comprising the US, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.
British finance minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murthy have been included in the 'Rich List' of the 250 wealthiest British residents, Reuters reported. The couple's reported wealth is of 730 million pounds ($911.19 million). Sunak's inclusion in the The Sunday Times UK Rich List at the 222nd slot is a result of his wife Akshata Murthy, the daughter of Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy and philanthropist mother Sudha Murthy.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees chief Filippo Grandi on Friday warned countries focussing on helping Ukraine to “not ignore the crises elsewhere”. The UNHCR said the global displacement crisis is also likely to worsen due to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine. The Group of Seven (G&) countries are providing $19.8 billion in aid to bolster Ukraine's public finances. Several other countries, including Japan and Germany, are providing help to Ukraine.