Connect with us

Black History

COMMENTARY: #CancelKamala: Kamala Harris and Cancel Culture

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Harris, who obviously knows who she is, lived her life as a black woman in America because in America, particularly during her childhood, you did not have the option of reinvention or all of the privileges of self-identification racial and cultural groups have today. There were no multiple racial categories being checked and personal pronouns being chosen or eschewed.

Published

on

By Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., NNPA Newswire Entertainment and Culture Editor

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) is running for president of the United States. Harris, a black American who is the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, was born and raised in Oakland, CA and then Toronto, announced her intentions on MLK Day. Many celebrated the announcement. Harris would be standing on the shoulders of Shirley Chisolm, the only other black woman to run for president in the history of the United States. However, others immediately went into default mode – tearing down this dynamic black woman before she could even get started.

Some questioned her race suggesting she wasn’t really black because of her biracial and global heritage. This critique sounded similar to the critique made of then Senator Barack Obama, the child of a white woman from Kansas and a father from Kenya. In both cases, daddy left, and the children were raised by mothers who aren’t black women.

Both mothers understood that, in the context of the United States, their children would be seen and treated as black Americans. So they did what black mothers have been doing for centuries here, prepared them socially and culturally for survival in the United States.

In fact, Harris’ mother, a scientist and civil rights activist, adopted black American culture, immersing herself and her children in what she found to be a rich, energetic and welcoming culture.

Harris, who obviously knows who she is, lived her life as a black woman in America because in America, particularly during her childhood, you did not have the option of reinvention or all of the privileges of self-identification racial and cultural groups have today. There were no multiple racial categories being checked and personal pronouns being chosen or eschewed.

Having the option of attending a college or university in the United States or Canada, Harris chose Howard University, one of the premiere HBCUs in the United States and quite possibly the world.

Now, before you tweet, yes there were schools exclusively for blacks in other countries during segregation and apartheid, which was worldwide. Harris, who could have attended a myriad of competitive universities, specifically chose this competitive university because of its legacy of educating and influencing black Americans and thus American culture.

Where did Harris make her announcement? On the steps of Howard University, her alma mater, where she let the world know it was her duty to try to gain the Democratic nomination in a political climate run amok and a White House in dangerous hands. And still, folks on social media used terms like “slick,” “calculating” and “untrustworthy” to describe this woman, beaming with pride, as something other than a proud HU alum.

The words used to describe Harris in social media dovetailed nicely into the Jezebel stereotype, often lobbed at black women who are painted as secretive, seductive, beguiling and alluring in literature and film. This stereotype emerged during slavery to justify the rape of black women by their white owners – men and women included.

Mainstream media picked up where Black Twitter left off, delighting in her relationship with San Francisco’s iconic mayor Willie Brown. Brown, who is still separated from his legal wife, and had been separated for 25 years at the time of his and Harris’ coupling, refuses to comment on the relationship today, because it is what reality television stars call a non-factor.

Apparently, a relationship that was very public at the time, was made into something secretive and dirty because Harris was on the other end. I chuckled to myself as I read Facebook posts of men and women currently or formerly engaged in “secret” affairs with married folk, who actually go home at night, gossiping about Senator Harris, but they are not running for political office, so I guess their indiscretions don’t matter.

Of course, mainstream media suggested her professional accolades happened because of her association with Brown — not her upbringing, university and law degrees from competitive institutions, professional experience as a lawyer or professional networks.

Nah, none of that had anything to do with it.

Those same people who attributed her success to Brown, failed to attribute the success of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Senator Dianne Feinstein or Congresswoman Maxine Waters to Brown, who also played a major role in their rise in the political world, among others.

Perhaps the one valid concern stemming from her former career as a California prosecutor is her role as a part of California’s prison industrial complex, which has been decontextualized and used to paint her as a monster in this era of people actually paying attention to mass incarceration.

The prison industrial complex has been researched, documented and protested against — mainly by black women and black women scholars for decades. In fact, Chinonye Chukwu, who just won the top award at Sundance for her film “Clemency,” is a justice reform activist and professor at Wright State University. I guess her work doesn’t count because she’s a Nigerian-born, Alaskan bred black woman living in America? See how silly that sounds?

Which leads me back to Harris. Perhaps if people actually knew the history behind blacks being banned from serving as prosecutors and judges in our courtrooms, then they could take a more nuanced perspective on black women prosecutors like Harris.

Even today, 90 percent of prosecutors are white and more than 80 percent are male which means Harris had to perform what writer German Lopez calls a “delicate balancing act” while working as a prosecutor. While we’re combing through her record (which we absolutely should be doing), scores of prosecutors are going unchecked mainly because they fit the status quo.

For all of those who fail to recognize her “Jobs Instead of Prison” program and the first-of-its-kind mandatory anti-racial bias training for police officers, what might have happened had she taken a stronger stand against the death penalty or held police officers more accountable in controversial cases? Marilyn Mosby would have happened.

Folks were all in when Mosby attempted to bring Baltimore police officers to justice over the death of Freddie Gray. However, when the powerful police union rallied and turned on her and literally tried to bankrupt and fire her, where was the black community in support of Mosby? Radio silence — except for black women scholars, influencers and activists who wrote public letters of support for Mosby.

You can say that, “Harris shoulda…, coulda…, woulda…” all you want, but the reality is who would have stood with her in the “tough on crime” era in which she was one of the few black women prosecutors in the country? I’ll wait.

Which leads me back to my main point. Cancel culture is going to get black folks canceled out of this country. We are literally laying on our backs while white supremacists are march up and down our black bodies with impunity.

To rail against a black woman before she even has an opportunity to address or respond in real time to the many questions we should have is ridiculous, just like some of these lame “critiques.”

Who would think a black woman educated at Howard University would have to prove her intellect to other black people? Who would think a woman who pledged Alpha chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, the first chapter of the first black collegiate sorority in the country, would have to prove her love for black women and culture to black people? Who would think a black woman with one black parent would have to prove her blackness to black people who will throw out the “one drop” rule when caping for white folk we like, as if black people actually invented that ridiculous criteria?

Bill Clinton is the nation’s first black president but Kamala Harris ain’t black? Who would think black folk would accuse Harris of being “suspicious” for being biracial and married to a white man with all of the influential black men – some biracial- married to white women and non-black women getting to keep their black cards?

We have a current president who has been accused of rape and sexual assault — to which he admitted on tape — and is on his third marriage, but we’re worried about Harris’ choice of husband?

All of this vitriol aimed at Harris is wrapped in misogyny, sexism, racism and xenophobia and I’m not here for it. Cory Booker announced his run for president and maybe I missed it, but I have yet to see any discussion of his problematic views on homophobia and sexual assault, Wall Street connections, education reform and dare I say it, close friendship with Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law.

I literally just saw a brother on Facebook who refuses to #muteRKelly but has already canceled Kamala. Really? We literally have a modern day Al Jolson in the Virginia Governor’s office, the White House looks like an advertisement for Barnum and Bailey and folks are cutting off Harris at the knees because her mama is Indian?

As voters, we have got to do better in terms of candidate selection. We need all of the information – not just sound bites from pundits, hashtags from social media influencers and revisionist think pieces on who she was 30 years ago.

Harris is running for president and should be critiqued. She should also have the opportunity to speak for herself and answer questions about her record as a candidate in the present day.

Personally, I’d rather see Harris on the Supreme Court than in the White House, but I’m open to hearing what she has to say during this presidential run whether or not she gets the Democratic nomination.

I don’t know who I’m voting for or voting against yet. It’s too early to tell, but I do know I want to know who Harris is in her words and on her terms. No, I’m not going to #CancelKamala or #CancelCory or #CancelWarren or #CancelCastro because they have had complicated lives and careers.

I find it fascinating how swift the calls for canceling these non-traditional candidates came relative to the enthusiasm for white male candidates who haven’t even announced their candidacies like Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Beto O’Rourke.

We only need to look at our recent history to see how this happens. Black folks were suspicious of then Senator Obama for many of the same reasons as Harris at the beginning of his candidacy. You can’t even form your lips to critique his policies now without being called a sellout – that is how beloved he is now to many in our community.

What might have happened had we cut the brother off at the knees the same way we’re slicing and dicing Harris? As it relates to Harris and the black women candidates who will follow in her footsteps, they deserve the same chance to be president as those who have come before them. They also deserve to be heard. #listentoblackwomen and give Kamala Harris a chance.

Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D. is entertainment and culture editor for NNPA/BlackPressUSA. A film and media scholar, Dr. Burton is founder and editor-in-chief of the award-winning news blog The Burton Wire, which covers news of the African diaspora. Follow her on Twitter @Ntellectual or @TheBurtonWire.

Antonio‌ ‌Ray‌ ‌Harvey‌

California Will Be First State to Break Down Black Employee Data by Ethnic Origin

Recently, disaggregation of Black data has been a top priority for some Black lawmakers and advocates supporting reparations for Black descendants of American slavery in California. In January, Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), introduced AB 1604, the Upward Mobility Act of 2022, legislation that will require the state to breakdown the data of state employees by ethnic origin.

Published

on

Disaggregated data refers to the separation of compiled information into smaller units to clarify underlying trends and patterns.
Disaggregated data refers to the separation of compiled information into smaller units to clarify underlying trends and patterns.

By Antonio Ray Harvey, California Black Media

When Gov. Gavin Newsom presented the annual May revision of his budget proposal for the next fiscal year, he announced that California will establish new demographic categories when collecting data pertaining to the ethnic origin of Black state employees.

Kamilah A. Moore, the chairperson of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, said the breakdown of data is “amazing news.”

“California will become the first state in the nation to disaggregate data for its Black population by ancestry/lineage,” Moore posted on her Twitter page on May 13. “This will assist the task force in our efforts to develop comprehensive reparations proposals for descendants.”

Disaggregated data refers to the separation of compiled information into smaller units to clarify underlying trends and patterns. Newsom’s actions are similar to a bill authored by then-Assemblyman Rob Bonta.

In September 2016, former Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill (AB) 1726 into law that required the state Department of Public Health to separate demographic data it collects by ethnicity or ancestry for Native Hawaiian, Asian, and Pacific Islander groups.

Recently, disaggregation of Black data has been a top priority for some Black lawmakers and advocates supporting reparations for Black descendants of American slavery in California. In January, Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), introduced AB 1604, the Upward Mobility Act of 2022, legislation that will require the state to breakdown the data of state employees by ethnic origin.

The Assembly Committee on Appropriations is currently reviewing the bill.

AB 1604 promotes mobility for people of color in California’s civil services system and requires diversity on state boards and commissions. Newsom vetoed AB 105 last year, the legislative forerunner to AB 1604, which Holden also introduced.

Shortly after he was appointed chair of the Assembly Committee on Appropriations in January, Holden reintroduced the legislation as AB 1604.

Holden, a member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, said AB 1604 will give the Reparations Task Force more accurate data to utilize in its study and deliberations. The bill was passed by the Assembly Committee on Public Employment and Retirement on March 14.

In a written statement released in October last year, Newsom said he vetoed AB 105 because “the bill conflicts with existing constitutional requirements, labor, agreements, and current data collections efforts” but found disaggregation useful for dissecting data about California’s workforce.

As stated in his 2022-2023 May revision of the state budget, under the section titled “State Workforce Demographic Data Collection,” Newsom proposed the separation of Black employee data beginning with the state’s 2.5 million-plus employees.

The Department of Human Resources (CalHR) will work with the State Controller to establish new demographic categories for the collection of data pertaining to the ancestry or ethnic origin of African American employees.

The collection of this data, the document states, “continues CalHR’s duties to maintain statistical information necessary for the evaluation of equal employment opportunity and upward mobility within state civil service.”

In March, the nine-member Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans decided with a 5-4 vote that lineage will determine who will be eligible for reparations.

The May revision also includes $1.5 million in funding for the Department of Justice to continue supporting the work of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans

Supporters of disaggregation say it will serve as a key tool for the task force as it enters its second year of studying slavery and its lingering effects on African Americans.

The state’s reparations task force will recommend what compensation should be and how it should be paid by July 2023.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

SoCal Group Holds Black-Themed Commencement, Presents Scholarships for Local High School Grads

The Buffongs say 694 students signed up for the Black graduation event their company held in conjunction with the Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement (CEEM) and a myriad of other sponsors. In addition to celebrating the students’ achievements, the Buffongs say the event held at the Los Angeles County Fair Grounds in Pomona introduced members of the class of 2022 to culturally significant career, social and civic opportunities.

Published

on

More than 670 Black graduates from various high schools come to a special graduation at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona on May 13, 2022.
More than 670 Black graduates from various high schools come to a special graduation at the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds in Pomona on May 13, 2022.

SoCal Group Holds Black-Themed Commencement, Presents Scholarships for Local High School Grads

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

This past weekend in the Inland Empire, a San Bernardino couple welcomed hundreds of African American high school graduates from the region for a joyous multi high school, Black-themed graduation celebration.

“Sometimes we have students doing magnificent things and nobody sees them,” said Keynasia Buffong, co-founder of Buffong Consultation Solutions, the company that organized the celebration honoring graduates from various high schools in the area.

Keynasia Buffong co-owns the firm with her husband Jonathan Buffong. The couple wants to expand the mass graduation event to all regions in the state.

“When you come into your community, we see you. We recognize you,” Kaynasia Buffong continued.

The Buffongs say 694 students signed up for the Black graduation event their company held in conjunction with the Cooperative Economic Empowerment Movement (CEEM) and a myriad of other sponsors.

In addition to celebrating the students’ achievements, the Buffongs say the event held at the Los Angeles County Fair Grounds in Pomona introduced members of the class of 2022 to culturally significant career, social and civic opportunities.

Black Greek organizations attended the weekend-long event as well as the first Black valedictorian of Beaumont High School where African American students make up a little under 7% of the student population.

“We got a chance to give away $27,000 in scholarships,” said Keynasia.

Both Buffongs are educators and student advocates in California. They have been hosting the graduation event appreciating Black students for over 11 years.

But the Buffongs say celebrating success always comes with a reminder of the challenges Black students face.

According to the California Department of Education, at 72.5%, Black students had the lowest high school graduation rate among all other racial or ethnic groups at the end of the 2020 to 2021 academic year.

Jonathan said one of their goals is to help graduates transition into the next stage of their academic life, whether that be a four-year university, community college, trade school, or employment.

“Sometimes they don’t know where to go or what to do,” said Keynasia. “There’s mentorship and sponsorship and we aim to have both.”

For the scholarship awards, the Buffongs are not just looking at grades but the full context of the graduates’ lives.

“Whether it’s COVID, deaths, family or health issues, disabilities, we’re looking for things to support them on so we can get them to the next level,” said Jonathan.

Outside of academic and career success, the Buffongs spoke about the importance of Black cultural exposure through education and traditional practices such as the Black national anthem and a libation ceremony.

The libation ceremony is performed by an elder in the community as a way to honor one’s ancestors. It is significant in various African cultures as well as other cultures around the globe.

The Buffongs say their next step is to look into more internship opportunities and figure out how to help curb the high numbers of Black high school graduates who leave the state to pursue opportunities elsewhere.

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Amtrak to Run Special Trains to Allensworth Historic Park Juneteenth Festival, June 11

Visitors attending the Juneteenth Festival will be able to take Amtrak San Joaquins trains to the Allensworth station. From there, riders will be met by a free shuttle for the short ride to the main property. The Allensworth station is normally a whistle stop on the San Joaquins available to be booked by groups desiring to visit the park.

Published

on

Allensworth State Park entry. Photo courtesy of CalParks.org. Trains will bring visitors to celebrate Juneteenth at site unique to California’s African American history
Allensworth State Park entry. Photo courtesy of CalParks.org. Trains will bring visitors to celebrate Juneteenth at site unique to California’s African American history

By David Lapari

Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park is holding a celebratory Juneteenth event on Saturday, June 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. In partnership, Amtrak San Joaquins has scheduled special trains, bookable at a 50% discount rate to bring travelers to a place of historical significance to Blacks in California.

The town of Allensworth was established in 1908 by Colonel Allen Allensworth and at one point was home to more than 300 families. The park is a California state treasure because it was the first town in California to be founded, financed, and governed by African Americans. Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park became a historical landmark in 1974.

The Juneteenth Festival is one of four major annual events hosted by Friends of Allensworth (FOA), a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose mission is to support, promote, and advance the educational and interpretive activities at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.

According to FOA, “Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. It was on June 19th, that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that all slaves were now free.”

Event activities will include square dancing, self-guided tours of historic buildings, historic games with prizes, storytelling, and arts and crafts. Food and refreshment vendors will also be present. Travelers can also bring their bikes and chairs aboard Amtrak trains and Thruway buses.

“Amtrak San Joaquins has been a long-time partner to the FOA in connecting the people of California with the historic town of Allensworth” said FOA President Sasha Biscoe. “We encourage any individual that is interested in immersing themselves in the rich, ethnically diverse history of our state to consider taking advantage of the affordable, convenient, and fun transportation option provided by Amtrak San Joaquins and join us on June 11th to celebrate Juneteenth.”

The southbound trains that will be running for the event include trains 702, 710, 712, 714. Northbound trains include trains 713, 715, 717 and 719. When purchasing train tickets, a 50% discount will automatically be applied to the ticket purchase and on up to five companion tickets. Additional discount programs regularly available to riders include:

  • Infants under 2 years of age ride for free
  • Children 2-12 years old ride half-price every day
  • Seniors (62+ years of age) receive 15% off
  • Veterans & active military members receive 15% off
  • Disabled riders save 10% off

Visitors attending the Juneteenth Festival will be able to take Amtrak San Joaquins trains to the Allensworth station. From there, riders will be met by a free shuttle for the short ride to the main property. The Allensworth station is normally a whistle stop on the San Joaquins available to be booked by groups desiring to visit the park.

Train tickets to Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park can be booked online at amtraksanjoaquins.com. For more information on how to book a group trip to Allensworth, please contact Carmen Setness, community outreach coordinator for San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), at Carmen@sjjpa.com.

David Lapari works for the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority, which is responsible for the management and administration of Amtrak San Joaquins.

Continue Reading

Subscribe to receive news and updates from the Oakland Post

* indicates required

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Dr. Noha Aboelata of ROOTS and Dr. Tony Jackson of Pranamind and President of the Bay Area Association of Black Psychologists.
Activism1 month ago

Oakland Frontline Healers Launches Black Mental Health Initiative

#NNPA BlackPress2 months ago

Walkaround 2022 Mazda3 2.5 Turbo AWD Sedan w/Premium Plus Package POV Test Drive

#NNPA BlackPress2 months ago

Asian Automotive Philosophy AutoNetwork Reports Black History Month

#NNPA BlackPress2 months ago

Best Detailed Walkaround 2022 GMC Sierra 2500 4WD Crew Cab AT4 HD | POV Test Drive

#NNPA BlackPress2 months ago

Car Reviews – Live Auto [Car] Talk Show – AutoNetwork Reports 351

#NNPA BlackPress2 months ago

Car Reviews Live Auto Car Talk Show AutoNetwork Reports 351

#NNPA BlackPress3 months ago

Best Detailed Walkaround 2022 Subaru BRZ Limited Sport Coupe | POV Test Drive

#NNPA BlackPress3 months ago

Best Detailed Walkaround 2022 Mazda CX 30 2.5 Turbo AWD | Subcompact SUV

#NNPA BlackPress3 months ago

Best Detailed Walkaround 2022 Toyota Corolla SE | POV Test Drive

#NNPA BlackPress3 months ago

Car Reviews – Live Auto [Car] Talk Show – AutoNetwork Reports 350

#NNPA BlackPress3 months ago

Car Reviews – Live Auto Car Talk Show – AutoNetwork Reports 350

#NNPA BlackPress8 months ago

NNPA – Black Press w/ Hendriks Video Interview

#NNPA BlackPress2 years ago

‘You Know Who to Vote For’ Martin Luther King’s Voting Message 56 Years Ago Today

Entertainment2 years ago

Music Spotlight with LaToya London

#NNPA BlackPress2 years ago

#FIYAH! LIVESTREAM — U.S. Surgeon General: ‘The Debate is Over — We All Should Be Wearing Face Coverings to Prevent Spread of COVID-19’

Trending