Black and South Asian-American women embrace Joe Biden's choice of Kamala Harris as VP pick
Joyce Wilson Harley has been waiting for Joseph Biden Jr. to announce his female running mate for weeks, hoping he would choose a Black woman who would help the Democrats presidential campaign.
Wilson Harley was not disappointed when she heard Tuesday afternoon that Sen. Kamala Harris was his pick. Harris would be the first Black woman as well as South-Asian woman nominated for vice president in a major party.
"I was so glad to see a Black woman on the ticket,'' said Harley. "She's someone I know. I was out there in California for her campaign, and I'm just thrilled and I just hope America is ready."
Biden announced his choice in a tweet Tuesday afternoon after weeks of speculation of who would be chosen. The pair is expected to deliver remarks Wednesday in Wilmington.
"I have the great honor to announce that I’ve picked @KamalaHarris — a fearless fighter for the little guy, and one of the country’s finest public servants — as my running mate," Biden tweeted.
Harris, 55, was among the candidates running for the Democrat presidential nomination before she suspended her campaign in December. Harris, the junior senator from California, became the first South Asian-American and the second African-American female senator in history, according to her biography. Harris' mother emigrated to the United States from India and her father from Jamaica.
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The news was celebrated by several people in the Black community as well as the South Asian community in New Jersey, including several who posted on social media .
S. Nadia Hussain, of Bloomingdale, said Harris was her preferred choice early on in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hussain, who worked at the University of Berkeley in California, said Harris, who served as a district attorney at the time, spoke at the school.
"I was very impressed, and she would always have her family with her.....I don't think everyone sees that side of Kamala and she was really accessible and down to earth and a really strong leader,'' Hussain said.
She said she also likes that Harris embraces both her Black and South-Asian roots.
"I hope this opens doors to other south Asian women to see themselves in leadership positions at the highest levels of government and knowing they don't have to ask their turn and that they can forge forward and be the leaders they were meant to be,'' she said.
Paula Madison-Ryner of Teaneck, president of the Bergen/Passaic chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, said she would have been disappointed if Biden's pick was not a Black woman, saying that they have worked hard and played a significant role in past presidential elections.
“Black women have always been the transformational vessel in this country in many ways,'' she said. "This signifies the diversity and progression this country needs especially with the current political and racial environment."
Deborah Witcher Jackson, of Teaneck, who also served as president of the Bergen/Passaic Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Inc., said it was a great choice, calling her experienced.
"She's a go-getter, a fighter, she is not going to let anyone get her down, she's fearless,'' she said. "The Black community, male and female, young [and old] are all pretty proud right now that history is being made and that they will look at her record and see she is a woman who has accomplished things and can help get things done."
Jackson said that she was glad to see Biden put behind the differences he had with Harris, pointing to the contentious interaction they had over busing during one of the Democratic debates late last year.
Khyati Joshi, founder and former co-chair of the South Asian-American Caucus of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, said Harris' religious and racial background is representative of a growing segment of the population. Harris grew up going to a Black Baptist church as well as a Hindu temple.
"I'm hoping we can start having much more nuanced and complex discussions about race in America, and that is one of the things that I'm looking forward to, and having her in the spotlight it's going to help us have those conversations that are needed,'' said Joshi, a professor at Fairleigh DickinsonUniversity who teaches courses on race, religion and social justice.
Joshi, who is on the advisory board for SouthAsians for Biden, said since the announcement she has received several messages and calls from people in the South Asian community, both young and older, about the pick.
"It's lovely, it's absolutely lovely, and I think that this is energizing this campaign,'' she said. "I could feel it, I could absolutely feel it, which is great.''
Monsy Alvarado is the immigration reporter for NorthJersey.com. To get unlimited access to the latest news about one of the hottest issues in our state and country, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.