In the midst of the pandemic – in which the United States has the highest number of infections and deaths in the world – the country suddenly shows one of those glimpses of its greatness and chooses a daughter of immigrants to run for the vice presidency. Kamala Harris is like the future of America: a woman of wonderful mixes and different backgrounds.
Kamala Harris, 55, is the daughter of a prominent cancer researcher from India, Shymala Gopalan, and a professor of economics from Jamaica, Don harris. (He lives but his mother died of colon cancer in 2009.) The two traveled to the United States to study for their doctorates and met during protests in favor of civil rights in Oakland, California. “My parents marched and participated in the civil rights movement in the 1960s,” she once said on her Instagram account. “And it’s because of them… that I am where I am. They paved the way for me to become the second black woman elected to the United States Senate”.
She understands, like few others, what it is to be an immigrant or the daughter of immigrants in a multi-ethnic state like California, which has the largest number of foreigners in the country. “One out of every two Californians was born outside the United States or is the child of someone who was born outside the United States; and I am one of them”He told me during an interview last November in Long Beach, California, before the pandemic and while he was still running for president of the United States. “The issue of migration – and by extension the issues that affect the Latino community – are something very personal to me.”
And then he referred to one of the worst attacks against Latinos in modern American history: the killing of 23 people at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, on August 3, 2019. “People ask me if Donald Trump is responsible for the massacre in El Paso. And I tell them: obviously he did not take the shots but he certainly hit ammunition via Twitter”.
Kamala Harris speaks her mind, she is not afraid to face President Trump directly and her candidacy awakens a sleepy presidential campaign that has been overshadowed by the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 3, Americans will decide if that is what they want. But the alternatives couldn’t be more different.
On the republican side we have two white men of European origin; for the Democrat Joe Biden and an African American woman, daughter of immigrants, of Caribbean and Indian origin.
What is indisputable is the direction the United States is taking. It is less and less white and more diverse. In just 22 years, whites will cease to be a majority and the nation will be a mix of minority groups, according to a projection from the census office.
And despite President Trump’s anti-immigrant measures, the United States remains the country with the largest number of immigrants in the world. We are currently around 40 million immigrants in the United States. One in every five immigrants in the world – as were Kamala’s parents – live here.
Contrary to the narrative promoted by Trump since the beginning of his electoral campaign – that Mexican immigrants, he said, are criminals and rapists – the reality is very different. Almost half of the nation’s top companies – the so-called Fortune 500 – were created by immigrants or for their children. And immigrants contribute much more to the economy than they take from it –immigrant surplus, they say in English— according to the National Academy of Sciences.
Certainly there are many things that are not working well in the United States. The pandemic has made it clear that the most powerful and richest country in the world has not been able to protect the most vulnerable. The racial and gender disparity is glaring. And I don’t remember a moment of greater political division like this in my 37 years as an immigrant. But in spite of everything, the promise that anyone – including a daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica – can reach the highest positions in the country is still valid.
America is much more like Kamala Harris than Donald Trump. We will soon know what direction the country wants to follow.
Journalist and presenter of the Univision Newscast. Twitter: @jorgeramosnews.