What a Kamala Harris vice presidency could mean for Indian Americans

Kamala Harris’ acceptance of the Democratic nomination for vice president is a major milestone for Indian Americans and many of them are excited to show their support.

“This is a clear signal that Joe Biden is taking a different direction and showing that by selecting Kamala Harris, we are very much a part of the fabric of this country,” said Neil Makhija, executive director of the Indian American Impact Fund, an organization that focuses on recruiting, training and electing Indian Americans at all levels of government.

Makhija, who is also a lecturer in law at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, said he believes Harris’ greatest challenge will be the obstacles that come with not only being a woman, but also a minority.

Harris’ historic nomination for vice president on the Democratic ticket is challenging America’s emphasis on identity and labels.

“When you look at a wall of presidents or vice presidents, there’s going to be no one that looks like Kamala Harris. There’s going to be a level of scrutiny that is a double standard,” said Makhija.

Be he stressed that’s an area Harris, the daughter of a Jamaican father and an Indian mother, has successfully played all of her life.

“Donald Trump has abdicated our responsibilities on issues like climate change and immigration and still not providing a path to citizenship. On these issues, I think our community is excited to have someone who will have the empathy and understanding of someone who has roots in an immigrant community.”

Watching Harris be elevated to a position no minority woman has reached, Makhija said, would excite voters in many communities.

He said Harris’ ability to bring together different stories and her own experience with civil rights exemplifies change.

“People are going to be very impressed as they watch her, a version of her that isn’t just 15 seconds on a debate stage at a time.”

Matt Small

Matt joined WTOP News at the start of 2020, after contributing to Washington’s top news outlet as an Associated Press journalist for nearly 18 years.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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