Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Kamala loves Ja, says cousin

Published:Sunday | November 22, 2020 | 8:24 AMKaryl Walker - Sunday Gleaner Writer
Kamala Harris (sitting at front) enjoying a moment with her cousins in St Ann, Jamaica in their childhood days.
Kamala Harris (sitting at front) enjoying a moment with her cousins in St Ann, Jamaica in their childhood days.

Disturbed by reports that United States vice-president-elect Kamala Harris has been snubbing her Jamaican roots, her cousin Patrick Harris has strongly come out in her defence.

“Kamala loves Jamaica dearly, and even though the media here is harping on her South Asian heritage, we know she has Jamaica on her mind,” Patrick Harris shared with The Sunday Gleaner.

Kamala Harris was born to Indian mother Shyamal Gopalan Harris and Jamaican father Donald Harris.

Her rise to vice-president-elect of the super power has been a source of pride for nationals of both countries, but some Jamaicans have expressed disappointment and even anger over what they perceive to be a deliberate slight of her Jamaican roots whenever Harris makes public speeches.

“We are very proud of her but we are straining our ears to hear her acknowledge Jamaica. It would go a far way in soothing Jamaicans at home and abroad if she would just say it. All we keep hearing about is her Indian mother. Jamaica is tiny compared to India but our culture is world renowned,” expressed Philadelphia-based Maureen Williams.

But Harris’ cousin pointed to her body language and persona as being uniquely Jamaican.

“You can see when she is on stage and the reggae music starts how she dances like a true Jamaican. She has not and will never forget her roots. Maybe she doesn’t say enough but she lives it and represents our country well,” he said.

Memorable Moments

Patrick Harris and his elder brother, Kenneth, have shared memorable moments with the vice-president-elect whenever she visited Jamaica, and those memories are dear to him.

“My cousin is special. She was always very bright and articulate. Her smile was always infectious. She may have matured but she is the same Kamala,” he said.

Kamala Harris’ parents met while in college during the height of the civil rights movement in 1964.

They, however, divorced when Kamala was seven years old. Her financial analyst father came out on the losing end of a custody battle and the result was a diminished role in the lives of Kamala and her sister Maya.

“Maybe she is mad at him for not being more active during her developmental years. Children sometimes carry those things with them for life,” Williams opined.

But Kamala’s cousin sought to dispel that theory.

“I don’t think he was an irresponsible father, as the fact that he fought for custody shows he had an intent to be active in his children’s lives. Men who don’t care do not fight for custody,” Patrick Harris reasoned.

Donald Harris has chosen to stay in the shadows and has declined to do media interviews during his daughter’s achievement of shattering the American political glass ceiling.

In the meantime, Kamala Harris and her boss, Joe Biden, are busy jumping through hoops to ready themselves for a January 20, 2021 takeover of the reins of power as outgoing President Donald Trump still refuses to concede defeat.