Kamala Harris: Not a Role Model for Young Women
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was one of the early entrants in the Democrat primary sweepstakes. She was hailed by the mainstream media as the penultimate Democrat candidate because she ticked off all of the supposed credentials for a front runner: female, person of color, pro-abortion on demand, and a public employee all of her working life. She topped that off by being declared the single most liberal/progressive member of the United States Senate. And as result she has been celebrated as a role model for young women – particularly young women of color.
Well, not so fast. I am reluctant to comment on the qualities attendant to being a role model for women – you know, me being a man and all. It would be far better if a female commented – particularly an accomplished female. I chose my sister because I know the struggles she went through as a single mother raising children in the aftermath of a divorce, entering law school, starting a practice, becoming an expert litigator in her field and finally retiring as a successful and financially secure woman. And while her children were all sons, she now has granddaughters, nieces, and grandnieces galore – all of whom she dotes on with a grand touch. She epitomized the oft-repeated sobriquet that women needed to be twice as smart and work twice as hard and still only get half the credit. Other lawyers often learned too late that lesson when dealing with her.
So meet my sister, Elizabeth Huss. Her charge has been to evaluate Ms. Harris as a role model for young women.
“This morning, little girls woke up across this nation — especially Black and Brown girls who so often may feel overlooked and undervalued in our society — potentially seeing themselves in a new way: As the stuff of Presidents and Vice Presidents.”
Joe Biden, August 12. 2020, after announcing Sen. Kamala Harris is his choice of running mate.
During my lifetime I have witnessed and participated in much that our girls and young women can be inspired by: the rise in the Women’s Movement in the United States during the 1960’s; passage of the Equal Right Amendment in 1972; law schools readily accepting women students, law firms hiring women attorneys, more women serving in political office and most of all women achieving great success in their chosen careers and their personal lives. During my legal career, I fought years of prejudice against women attorneys that came from judges, fellow lawyers and clients. It was a struggle at times. But I relied on working the hardest and a good measure of Montana grit in pursuing my career on its successful path. I recite all this only because I believe it has earned me the stripes needed to say this: Kamala Harris is certainly not one to be held up as a “model” for young women and girls in today’s world. When reading the story of Kamala Harris, let’s not confuse ambition with “character,” opportunism with “hardworking” phony with “real” and receiving favors with “overcoming” in assessing whether this woman deserves to be emulated by girls and young woman, regardless of their skin color.
KAMALA: PHONY GHETTO GIRL
Kamala Harris’ so-called “inspirational” story begins when Kamala is just seven and heading off to her first day of school. To be inspired requires that we, first, imagine Kamala as an impoverished little colored girl living in a ghetto in Berkley California with her immigrant mother, abandoned by a deadbeat father, without hope of breaking the endless cycle of poverty facing her. NO hope, that is, until she is bused to a White School, presumably under Orders from the Government. Except that isn’t really the way it happened! Kamala Harris is not a woman of color who clawed her way up and out of the ghetto to become a U.S. Senator. Yes, she is a woman of color, having a mother who immigrated from India and a Jamaican father, and, yes, her parents were divorced. But it ends there. Kamala’s mother was a well-known cancer researcher from a wealthy diplomatic family in India. Her father was an economics professor at Stanford, whose family in Jamaica was also successful. Kamala’s mother initiated her divorce because she did not want to forego her own career to follow Kamala’s father to a new teaching job. Kamala lived in a middle class and integrated neighborhood in Berkley, had plenty to eat, nice clothes and took ballet lessons like many little girls across America. When she was 12, she moved to Canada with her mother and attended white-majority schools until her graduation from high school. As for the busing story, it was not Government ordered! It was an experimental program Berkeley was trying out and Kamala’s mother volunteered her daughter to participate. So the true story is that Kamala came from a solid middle class background or better, which afforded her far more opportunity than most – particularly most young girls of color. In truth, nothing about Kamala Harris’ childhood falls into the realm of being “overlooked” and “undervalued!”
KAMALA: PHONY OVERCOMING OBSTACLES
Fast forward in our “model” girl story to Kamala becoming a lawyer. Though she touted her ability to be educated in the same schools as Whites, when it came time for College, she chose to go to the historically Black Howard University located in Washington, D.C. It is not a bridge too far to believe that it was location that inspired Kamala’s College choice to a large degree. Notably, Kamala got herself an intern position with California Senator Alan Cranston while attending Howard and worked on the unsuccessful Jesse Jackson presidential campaign. There is no indication that Kamala excelled academically while at Howard. Instead she seemed more focused on being a campus activist.
Kamala returned to California after being admitted to the UC Hastings College of Law at Berkley through an affirmative action program known the Legal Education Opportunity Program (LEOP). The program was intended for law students who were “disadvantaged” educationally, economically or by a physical disability. What “disadvantages” the middle-class child of two PhDs, educated at the “Black Harvard” needed to overcome by acceptance into LEOP remain unknown. Nonetheless, LEOP law students were mentored, cared for, supported, tutored and counseled in every way during their tenure at Hastings, including special law class outlines, preparation for the bar exams and job interviews. Kamala graduated from Hastings in 1989 and sat for the California Bar Exam later that year. Despite all of the special privileges afforded her as a law student and a Pass Rate of over 72% for first time takers, she failed the California Bar Exam. Kamala eventually passed the Bar Exam and went to work for the District Attorney in Oakland, California. Her failure to pass the Bar Exam has been excused by noting that “others” such as Michelle Obama and John F. Kennedy Jr. also failed their Bar Exams.
Being a mediocre student, being coddled and given special treatment at law school and then failing despite that is not what young girls of any color should aspire to. It is certainly not an example of an “overlooked” and “undervalued!” young woman “overcoming” anything! So HOW did Kamala Harris get where she is now? The answer to that question leads us to the most important chapter of Kamala Harris’s rise to fame. It is answered in two words: Willie Brown!
Willie Brown might be described as Affirmative Action of a different sort, when it comes to Kamala Harris. This is THE Willie Brown, we are talking about, the powerful former Speaker of the House in California and subsequently Mayor of San Francisco. Kamala Harris’s extramarital affair with Willie Brown was well-known and both Willie Brown and Kamala Harris have acknowledged it. At that time, Willie Brown was widely viewed as the most powerful Democrat in California and a skillful politician who traded favors – including favors with a string of women other than his wife.
But let the August 13, 2020 edition of the Daily Mail describe the affair:
“When they met around 1993, Brown, a noted lawyer and civil rights leader, was the speaker of the California assembly and regarded as one of the State’s most influential legislators.
“He had turned 60 while Harris was 29.
“Brown was notorious for his love of Jaguar sports cars, flash designer suits – a look he dubbed ‘bold conservative’ despite his liberal leanings – and for being named one of the world’s ten sexiest men by Playgirl magazine.
“He had also been seen with a ‘succession’ of beautiful women despite having been married for decades. No wonder then that Clinton once dubbed Brown ‘the real Slick Wily.’
“’The measure of his flamboyance is he’ll go to a party with his wife on one arm and his girlfriend on the other,’ James Richardson, a reporter for the Sacramento Bee told People Magazine in 1996.
“Brown insisted that his dates should ‘absolutely be the best-dressed woman in the room,’ added Richardson, who published his own biography of Brown later that year.
“Harris, meanwhile, was regarded as a diligent and able prosecutor ‘on the way up’ at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, where she had worked for the previous three years.
“Brown had been publicly dating Harris for some time, but when Brown was inaugurated in 1996, his estranged wife Blanche was by his side after ‘splitting’ two years prior.
“As Brown’s ‘new steady’ she soon found herself rubbing shoulders with many of California’s political movers and shakers.
“As well as gifting his young squeeze a BMW car, the relationship reaped even more tangible benefits when Brown handed Harris two influential positions.
“’Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, continuing his rush to hand out patronage jobs while he retains his powerful post, has given high-paying appointments to his former law associate and a former Alameda County prosecutor who is Brown’s frequent companion,’ the Los Angeles Times noted in 1994.
“’Brown, exercising his power even as his speakership seems near an end, named attorney Kamala Harris to the California Medical Assistance Commission, a job that pays $72,000 a year.
“’Harris, a former deputy district attorney in Alameda County, was described by several people at the Capitol as Brown’s girlfriend.’
Brown also appointed Harris to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, a lucrative position worth a further $97,088 a year, according to the same article.”
KAMALA: AMBITION AND OPPORTUNISM
Thanks to Mr. Willie Brown, Kamala Harris walked away with a nice income from the State of California, a BMW and a little Black Book filled with the names of important and powerful political connections in California. There was no end to what those sorts of bona fides could do for a young woman with political ambitions of her own.
In 2003 Kamala, with the support of then Mayor of San Francisco Willie Brown, successfully ran for San Francisco District Attorney. According to Bill Fazio, one of Kamala’s opponents in the Election for District Attorney: “Kamala, she had connections to the mayor, which gave her access to a lot of money people up in Pacific Heights.” This sentiment has been confirmed on more than one occasion. In an August 17, 2019, Times of San Diego article detailing with Kamala Harris’s political rise, it cited this: “I would think it’s fair to say that most of the people in San Francisco met her through Willie,” John Burton, who used to be president pro tem of the state Senate, former chair of the California Democratic Party and a San Francisco political powerhouse in his own right, told Politico recently.
“Harris’ connection to Brown also helped her make connections across San Francisco high-society and California political elite. In 1996, a year after Brown became mayor and Harris broke off the relationship, she joined the board of trustees at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. . . .
“When Harris ran for San Francisco district attorney nearly a decade later, her first contribution came from Elaine McKeon, chair of the museum’s board. More—much more—poured in from donors with last names like Fisher, Getty, Buell, Haas, and other noble houses of the Bay Area.”
And so Kamala won the District Attorney race, not because of her storied legal career, but because she had been willing to become the paramour of a married man who was the most powerful political figure in California at the time. Kamala’s high profile status as the District Attorney secured her rise in California politics. From there, she was elected as the California Attorney General in 2011 and a few years later, as a U.S. Senator.
After only a few brief years as a first term U.S. Senator, Kamala Harris then decided she was ready to be the President of the United States. Perhaps the most telling indictment of Kamala Harris’ newly minted status as a role model for girls and young women is that she failed to capture even three percent of the vote during the Presidential primaries and was forced to quit early rather than face the indignity of losing to a number of other candidates in her own state primary. Apparently, the voters of this Country were not nearly as impressed with Kamala’s story as Joe Biden is!
So is the story of Kamala Harris the one that ought to be told to our daughters, granddaughters, nieces and other young girls who look to us for guidance as they grow up? I say, “NO, to Kamala Harris as a role model!” Kamala Harris did not have a rough life. She was not “overlooked” and “undervalued” as Joe Biden suggests. In fact, she started out better than most! Despite having few, if any, real obstacles to overcome in her personal life, Kamala Harris took the low road, rather than the high road, to make her way in her professional and political career.
My own experiences as a single mother, a law student and a struggling lawyer were not unique to the countless number of women who have encountered similar struggles, biases, and barriers in their adult lives. Most make the choice to pursue success through hard work, accepting risks, doubling down when the going gets tough, and standing up for themselves even when they had to shout to be heard. A few slept their way to the top – trading sex for advancement and miming the opinions of their patrons as if those were their own. Kamala Harris falls into this latter category. We can call her ambitious, ruthless, opportunist and even lucky. What we cannot and should not call her is a “role model” for our girls! The last thing in the world that I would suggest to the young women and girls in my family is that the way forward for women of integrity is by sleeping their way to success. Shame on Joe Biden for suggesting otherwise!