In a tweet on Tuesday night, Sen. Kamala Harris said the U.S. is rigged so that women, racial minorities, and even people who happen to live in certain areas are unable to succeed.
“Let’s speak truth to power,” wrote Harris. “Right now in the United States, access to opportunity depends on your race or gender or what zip code you are born in. It doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s build an America where everyone has the chance to succeed.”
What a pathetic, disempowering message to send to young women, blacks, Hispanics, and anyone else who doesn’t consider themselves a “privileged” class in America. What makes it worse is that Harris herself is a living testament to how shamefully untrue this message is.
After all, Harris was born to an Indian immigrant mother and a Jamaican father. She is taken for a black woman in most circumstances, and as far as we know, that’s how she self-identifies. She was born in Oakland. If that isn’t a bad “zip code” to be born in, we don’t know what would be. Granted, her parents weren’t welfare leeches – they had good jobs in science, medicine, and academia. So she had that going for her, but she wasn’t exactly birthed into the lap of privilege, luxury, and instant success. She had to work for it.
And so she did. After her mother moved the children to Canada, Harris graduated high school in Quebec and then headed to Howard University in Washington to get her degree in political science and economics. She was a success at Howard, joining the debate team, becoming a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, and getting herself elected to the student council. After obtaining her bachelor’s degree, she went to the University of California to get her doctorate in law. She passed the bar a short time later and embarked on her career as a prosecutor.
That would be enough for many women, but Harris didn’t stop there. She moved into politics, first becoming the district attorney of San Francisco before moving on to become the first African-American woman to be elected the Attorney General of California. Now she’s a U.S. senator running to become the President of the United States.
Imagine if someone had told Harris, way back when, that she couldn’t make a success out of herself in America because the deck was stacked against women, blacks, people from Oakland, or the children of immigrants. What would she have done with her life if she internalized the message that it was hopeless?
If Harris was right – that access to opportunity depends on your race, gender, etc. – then we wouldn’t have the slightest clue who she was. But if people like her keep preaching that message, it may soon become a self-fulfilling prophecy.