A year of a lot of first! – Impact of Kamala Harris win

The first women of colour has been elected to be the Vice president of United States of America. Kamala Harris made history when she was sworn-in as the first Indian-American-Jamaican person to take the office.

She getting elected as the Vice President of the west was a big hit not only in the west, but it was an equally big deal in India as well. Do you know why?

Kamala Harris traces her maternal ancestry to Tamil Naidu and she has never shied away from owning her Indian heritage on her sleeves. Last year during the USA election campaign, a photo went viral which had Kamala and her maternal grand parents Rajam Gopalan and P.v Gopalan sitting with her sister named Maya Harris and two niece.

She was dotting a red saree with black blouse, chopped hair and a bindi. As this picture went viral it led everyone to believe Kamala Harris might wear a traditional Indian suit or a saree for her swearing in ceremony, but to everyone’s surprise she chose to wear a purple dress with a purple coat on top.

Ancestral History

Thulasendrapuram is a small Indian village 350 kilometres from southern costal city of Chennai. Kamala’s maternal Grandfather was born in this village.

Her grand father was born more than 100 years ago. Kamala late mother was also born in India before moving to USA to study at the University of California.

The residents from Thulasendrapuram which is surrounded by rice paddies and Hindu temples, were super excited and proud to see someone from their village was nominated to be the vice president of America.

They were eagerly watching the ceremony live and cheering for her as she was sworn in. They even lit firecrackers and cheered long live Kamala Harris while holding her portraits.

Earlier women wearing bright coloured sarees and men wearing dhotis offered flower and conducted special Pooja praying for her success.

Poster and banners of her Kamala Harris are still stuck on the walls of this village and many hope she ascends to being the president of United States in 2024.

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Her Parents

Shyamala was born in Madras in a privileged Tamil Brahmin family. The Gopalans were very progressive in their thinking and imprinted the importance of educations on their children.

After finishing her graduation from women’s college in New Delhi, Shyamala secretly applied in Berkeley University in spite the fact that no one in their family had visited United States. Her farther was surprised at this, but eventually dug into his savings and sent Shyamala to study ahead.

She met Donald Harris in 1962. They bonded over the left wings politics and despite her plans of returning back to India after finishing her education, they got married in 1963. Their first child was born in Oakland in 1964.

Harris mother choose the baby girls name in tribute of her Indian Heritage and named her “Kamala Devi Harris” which means Lotus in Sanskrit and is also another name for the Hindu Goddess named Lakshmi. Their second daughter Maya was born after two years.

Kamala’s parents got divorced in 1971 when she was just 7 years old. Kamala was quoted saying she hardly heard them fight about their marriage collapsing but they had definitely become like water and oil.

Although she did hear them quarrel during a custody agreement in court where Donald thought his parental rights were limited.

Slowly Donald become a rare presence in his daughter’s life and his visit were limited to weekends, summer visits and trips to Jamaica.

Shyamala made sure both her daughters got proper upbringing and education and she also educated them about their diverse culture. Kamala would also visit a Hindu temple regularly with her mother.

Inspiration from her mother’s and her India heritage

Harris has spoken on multiple occasions about her mother Shyamala Gopalan and how she has impacted her life in such a drastic manner. She had a magnificent impact on Harris value system and upbringing.

Shyamala Gopalan hails from Chennai and is a researcher for breast cancer and has raised Kamala and her sister Maya singer headedly after separating from her husband Donald Harris.

Love for Indian food

Even though she has been brought up in America, her love for food back home as not diminished. She had said in a social media interview that she loves eating Idli with a really good authentic Sambhar and also loves to eat Barbeque Tikkas.

Kamala also loves to cook and play host for her friends. One such evening she made Masala Dosa for actress Mindy Kaling, while they sat discussing politics over dinner.

Celebrating Hindu Festivals

Even though born and brought in America she has not forgotten her roots and Indian customs and festivals. Though it is a regular custom for world leaders to acknowledge notable festivals from across the globe, but when Harris does it, it kind of became a big deal.

She tweeted “Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak” on the auspicious occasion of Diwali and New Year. She also tweeted “Happy Independence Day! Reflecting on the past 74 years its remarkable how much progress our people have made in the fight for justice.

I hope you’ll join me today in celebrating and then commit to building an even better future.” on 15th august.

Spouse

Kamala Harris is married to Douglas Emhoff, this makes him the first second gentleman in American History.

He was born in a Jewish family in Brooklyn New York. He graduated from California state university and USC Gould School of Law. He was married to Kerstin Emhoff who is a film producer for 16 years.

They have two kids named Cole Emhoff & Ella Emhoff. But eventually Douglas and Kerstin got divorced and married Kamala on 22nd August 2014 in Santa Barbara California.

Kamala became a step mom to Douglas children, but she and the kids agreed they do not like the term Stepmom, so instead they came up with the term Momala.

Kamala was quoted saying Cole and Ella are her endless source of joy and her life would not be complete with out them and that she takes her Momala duties very seriously.

Dressing Style

Harris has a peculiar dressing style. She is a women of conviction and dedicated toward her work, this is elegantly reflect through her dressing style. Her wardrobe often features Skinny pants combined with sharp blazer accessorised with pearls and sneakers.

Her unique styles of combining blazers with sneakers shows how approachable she is and also signals a new way of power dressing.

These elegant, business like tailored outfits dates back to when she was working as a lawyer in San Francisco.

Back then also she had a huge collection of blazers in neutral colours along with bold accessories like colourful patterned scarves, sneakers. Jangly bracelets, bangles and some pearls necklaces.

Buzz around the Inauguration Day

Being the daughter of a Jamaican father and Indian mother and being the first black female and South Asian American to be elected as the Vice President Kamla Harris Created history at 56.

Because of her Indian roots there was a lot of buzz around what will she wear for the swearing in ceremony? There were speculations of her wearing something from an Indian Designer or a Black Designer. People were wondering if she will wear a saree or a pant suit or a blazer dress.

Indian across the globe were actually rooting for her to dawn a traditional attire, especially after the picture of her in a saree went viral about a year back. But to every ones disappointment she did not.

Well she ended up wearing a crisp Purple dress along with a purple over coat designed by two Black designers named Sergio Hudson and Christopher John Rogers.

Harris has managed to dress in way that is true to herself and also lets her to be taken seriously. She has proven to all the young working professionals that you do not have to be a Fashion slave to be stylish and get noticed. You can be stylish with utmost confidence wearing what you are comfortable with.

The reason behind wearing two black designers who are born in America, on such an important day further tells us that she plans to keep uplifting the community through politics she so deeply loves and admires.

One can also say Harris was conveying an unsaid message through her choice of clothes saying “American creativity is not limited to only white people but belongs to all those coming from different backgrounds and culture in America.”

Even though some people might debate that people who have immigrated out of India long time ago have no more connection to India and are not close to Indian Tradition and culture.

I believe it is still a big deal for a India- Jamaican- American black women to be elected as the Vice President of United states of America and we should definitely celebrate this as win against gender discrimination and racism globally.

 

 


1 comment


  • Mansi

    Hello, beautiful story. It tells us that as an Indian we should respect and celebrate our culture. Because we belong to a very colorful country which is famous in the world for its festival and culture only.


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