Tuesday, September 29, 2020

For a Black feminist, supporting Harris unequivocally just isn’t straightforward

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In 1968, Shirley Chisholm cemented her title in historical past when she grew to become the primary African American congresswoman. I got here throughout her autobiography, Unbought and Unbossed, just a few years in the past, and it has stayed with me ever since. It not solely chronicles her extraordinary life however serves as a radical Black feminist’s world paradigm for navigating politics in a racist, sexist, anti-poor society.
In the e book, printed simply two years after her election to Congress, she writes: “In a just and free society it would be foolish. That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, Black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free.”
Fast ahead to 2020, Chisholm’s phrases are simply as related and instructive, particularly after one other formidable Black lady, Senator Kamala Harris, accepted the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nomination, and have become the first Black lady and first lady of South Asian descent to run for vp on a significant get together ticket.
As a Black feminist, upon listening to the information of Harris’s nomination, my knee-jerk response was to have a good time one other Black lady’s political achievement. Black girls should work twice as laborious to show ourselves as succesful enforcers, organisers and leaders. So for a Black lady to ascend to this political top is sensational.
At the floor, the nomination is honourable and a symbolic framework from which we will construct our personal potential. However, amid world efforts to organise towards white supremacy, state-sanctioned violence, and patriarchy, you will need to confront the sophisticated contradictions in Harris’s public service document head-on. Not doing so would do a disservice to those that are nonetheless struggling because of the insurance policies she pursued throughout her profession as a “progressive prosecutor”.
Accountability, abolition and abrogation are necessary tenets of Black feminism in a world the place Black our bodies are disposable to the justice system. It could be dishonest to have a good time Harris’s nomination as a “Black history” second with out reckoning with how she has supported insurance policies which have contributed to a damaged prison justice system that predominantly targets Black women and men.
As California’s lawyer basic, for instance, Harris helped cross a truancy legislation which made it a prison misdemeanour for fogeys in California to permit their youngsters to overlook greater than 10 p.c of college days with no legitimate excuse. As a results of Harris’s efforts to resolve the issue of truancy utilizing the equipment of legislation enforcement, many mother and father, and particularly Black, underprivileged moms, had been fined and even jailed. Cheree Peoples of Bueno Park, whose daughter, Shayla, suffers from sickle cell anaemia, was considered one of these moms. Despite explaining to the authorities that her daughter’s situation makes it unattainable for her to attend faculty regularly, she was arrested, pep-walked in handcuffs in entrance of cameras, and prosecuted for 2 years. The costs towards her had been ultimately dropped, however she informed Huffington Post in a latest interview that because of the ordeal she felt like she “lost” her life and herself.  
Feminist scholar Angela Davis acknowledged that there are problematic areas related to Harris’s document as a prosecutor however asserted: “It’s a feminist approach to be able to work with those contradictions.”
Harris’s “contradictions” could also be acceptable and “workable” within the eyes of the older era simply because she is a Black lady who achieved political success in a racist and sexist system. But Black feminists at this time mustn’t, and can’t afford to, accept symbolism.
At a time when Black persons are killed by police or imprisoned for misdemeanours every single day, we can not afford to sanitise this plight with somebody who has devoted her profession to a prison justice system that prejudicially incarcerates Black folks. The Democratic Party’s nomination of a Black lady for vp can’t be accepted as a robust incentive to vote blue, so long as that candidate fails to display her concerted efforts in the direction of change.  
With that being stated, Harris remains to be by miles a extra credible vice presidential candidate than her white male counterparts. Harris being a Black lady permits us to think about the opportunity of a society the place Black our bodies will be saved by negotiation and lobbying.
Harris herself will expertise intense racism and sexist prejudice on her marketing campaign path. Black feminism calls on us to shelter her towards these assaults on the premise that we worth Black girls no matter faith, sexual orientation, social standing, politics and so on. In honouring our dedication to guard Black girls towards racist and sexist assaults, nonetheless, we also needs to not draw back from holding Harris to account for her personal anti-Black insurance policies and different contributions to a damaged system. 
Unlike Shirley Chisholm, who unequivocally devoted her profession to educating and political defiance, Harris’s well-documented profession collaboration with the prison justice system towards Black folks and other people of color, makes for a “first Black” qualifier that’s each unnerving and distracting.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially replicate Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.

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