On Jan. 21, I awoke to a text: “Big news from Kamala.”
I didn’t need to check CNN or Twitter to understand. I’d been eagerly awaiting this announcement for quite some time.
Kamala Harris had done it.
She’d joined the handful of African American women to run for the Democratic nomination for President. She made the choice to fight for justice and claim our future — for ourselves, our children and our country. In the age of 35-day government shutdowns, foreign infiltration of the White House and misguided military decisions, Kamala’s announcement renews my sense of hope.
Despite this renewed hope, and to my dismay, I spent the following week wading through anti-Kamala content. “’Top cop’ Kamala took no action in police abuse cases and defended a troubled prison system.” “She criminalized sex work.” “She is not progressive enough.” I was startled by these critiques.
Startled because Kamala has tirelessly advocated for the voiceless and vulnerable, during her tenure as both California Attorney General and United States Senator.
Kamala has been “smart on crime,” establishing the first Office of Recidivism Reduction and Reentry, the first open data initiative to expose racial disparities in criminal justice and the “Back on Track” program for the formerly incarcerated. She has defended victims of sex trafficking, prosecuting transnational gangs that exploit women and children, while leading investigations into the impacts of human trafficking.
Moreover, Kamala has made great strides for the people, much of which has not been sufficiently recognized. During the housing crisis, she won a historic mortgage settlement case that helped over 84,000 Californians. She perpetually stands up for affordable opportunities in higher education. Her support for the LGBTQ community has been unyielding — from establishing a Hate Crimes Unit to prevent bullying against LGBTQ teens, to laying the groundwork for the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision in favor of same-sex marriage.
No candidate is perfect (as is readily apparent in the current administration). Yet in the 2020 election, there is a need for unity if we wish to shift the status quo. This election is not just another presidential election, where we can afford to be fragmented within a party. This election is the time for us to stand together in support of the leader who will do the right thing.
After a week of following every campaign update, I hopped into a car with four friends to make my way to Oakland City Hall. It was Jan. 28, and on this day, history would be made.
The line outside of the rally curved, wrapped around buildings and extended far beyond my line of sight. To my pleasant surprise, there was hardly a protestor in the vicinity. Instead, the masses of people were all there to support the future President of the United States. The air buzzed with excitement and anticipation for the official announcement of Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential campaign.
As Kamala said, “We are at an inflection point in the history of our world. The American dream and our American democracy are under attack like never before.” We can appreciate the promise of our country, yet there are so many parts of that promise that still remain unfulfilled.
We live in a time when hope is scarce — when the minority is constantly marginalized and our country is the laughing stock of the international community. We live in a time where Americans need hope.
Kamala renews my sense of hope. In her speech on Sunday, she reminded Americans across the country that “America, we are better than this. America’s story has always been written by people who see what can be, unburdened by what has been.” I stand with Kamala because she sees a world beyond just us. Do you?
Contact Tashrima Hossain at thossain ‘at’ stanford.edu.