The new face of America: Kamala Harris, a child of immigrants

Buddy Gomez -- Cyberbuddy

Posted at Aug 15 2020 12:02 AM

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I witnessed the future of America and it is looking good!

A historic moment, Wednesday, August 12, 2020. It was broadcast from Wilmington, Delaware when shortly after 5:00 p.m., Joe Biden, Democratic Party candidate for US President, called to center stage his choice of running mate.

“Let me introduce to you for the first time, the next Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. Kamala, the floor is yours.”

With a confident smile on her face, Kamala’s first words of acceptance: “I am ready to get to work!”

And indeed she was, with quite a performance of an inspiring and fighting speech, too. Kamala (pronounced comma-la) was articulate, spiritedly eloquent, knowledgeable and poised, charmingly effective, pleasantly serious. She covered all the bases, tugging at heartstrings, displaying sensitivity and oneness with people she vows to fight for alongside a President Biden, and launching the opening salvo against malevolence and ineptitude stalking America today. An international debut for the newest star readying for world renown.

It was a speech to behold, teeming with exemplary role modelling, more importantly, for young girls around the world. Subject to parental guidance, I have requested my two young granddaughters in Manila to take time and sit for some 16 minutes and meet Kamala Harris, hopefully to inspire them into useful patriotic activism.

When former President Barack Obama heard of the announcement, he said of the choice: “Joe nailed it!”

Let me then echo an admittedly biased swoon and a fearless prediction. With her performance, Kamala Harris also drove the last nail upon Donald Trump’s coffin! (With apologies to Bill Maher, the political satirist, over his mock eulogy during Trump’s lampoon funeral services. Watch this video clip. I highly recommend it.)

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Kamala Harris is black and brown and stands five feet and two inches. Ethnically, half an Asian. In political outlook and commitment, all-American! An Oakland, California-born child of immigrants from opposite points of the globe. Mother is from India, a cancer research physician. Father, an African Jamaican, professor of Economics at Stanford. Both were civil rights activists as youthful scholars in UC, Berkeley, tagging along and exposing precocious little Kamala to social and political commitment, an early awakening.

She is a lawyer who has served as Prosecutor, District Attorney for San Francisco and California’s Attorney General, currently the Junior Senator of California.

She is the first black female, the first Asian American to scale such political heights. Joe Biden, who will be 78 on inauguration day should he be fated and voted to be Trump’s replacement, has remarked that Kamala is “ready to step into the Presidency from day one.” Indeed, the political fates do seem to sense a high possibility of a Kamala Harris Presidency after Joe Biden.

But what does Kamala Harris mean and stand for, for the Filipino in America? Naturally, no other candidate for national office can ever better represent the interests of the Filipino diaspora in America than a new leader borne of immigrant parents, too. Emphatically, immigrant parents of color and to be precise, black and brown. A sense of affinity and identity must count for some affirmative sentiment.

Not having been too involved in American politics, it was only a few days ago that I learned, sadly I must admit, that during the last US presidential elections, the majority of Filipino-American voters actually cast their lot with Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. (Of course, but for the Electoral College, Clinton did win the popular tally by some 2.9 million votes) What happened? Will it happen again?

Without doubt, Filipino-Americans have experienced racism and bigotry in their adopted country, no different from all other minorities. For that reason, Kamala Harris’ message ought not be lost to them. “We are experiencing a moral reckoning with racism and systemic injustice that has brought a coalition of conscience to the streets of the country demanding change.” That “coalition of conscience” must count on Filipino participation.

There is now an on-going non-partisan research in a widely representative cross section of Fil-Am society. It is an attempt to analyze the earlier pro-Trumpish attitude of a majority of the kababayans. When ready, something to report on.

The significance of a Kamala Harris leadership, therefore, ought, not be lost to discerning Filipinos.

In American politics, it is not unusual that the choice of a Vice-Presidential running mate, whether with the Republicans or the Democrats, is not a main event. It is even regarded as a non-booster for the principal candidate’s ratings and odds at winning. The choice of vice president is perfunctory even if we throw in attractive innovations such as in the earlier instances of Geraldine Ferraro and Sarah Palin.

Not quite this time, though. Kamala Harris has proven to be a Biden boost from the get go. Not only did the choice of Kamala Harris create a nationwide sensation, it also stirred unusual excitement markedly in voting immigrant communities made up notably of Asians, especially Filipinos. In fact, no other Vice Presidential choice has ever boosted the campaign coffers of any Presidential candidate. Overnight, Biden’s kitty was filled with an additional $25 million in donations. There lies an eloquent message.

Furthermore, no other Vice Presidential candidate has attracted such aggression so instantaneously and so virulently, many pundits read panic and subliminal fright among the remaining Republicans and the Trumpist white supremacist base. It is evident that this early, they fear the distinct possibility of a Kamala Harris succession to the US Presidency.

Among discerning Fil-Am voters, I reckon there is much head scratching and kicking one's self in the butt for having cast a ballot for what turned out to be America’s greatest political imbecility.
The stateside Pinoy cannot botch it again. Kamala is their hopeful ‘abangan’ moment!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.

In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.

During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.

After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.

He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.