What Kamala Harris's Vice Presidency Means For Mixed-Race Girls Like Me

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Kamala H

Seeing a woman of color become VP of the United States has been a dream for many young girls, but specifically for mixed-race girls like me, this is huge. 

The messages we receive as young mixed-race children are often: pick a side. "Are you this or are you that?".

You are “tested” for your race and if you don’t pass the racial litmus tests, you will be deemed “not enough”. 

I always found it interesting, because we never have racial litmus tests for white people.

RELATED: Kamala Harris's 'Vogue' Cover Is The Epitome Of A Racial Microaggression

These messages — especially from a young age — can damage young girls’ self-esteem and sense of belonging in their community. 

As a multiracial person, we experience discrimination from both the communities you are supposed to be a part of. It’s what Diana Sanchez, a Rutgers University professor who studies multiracial identity in America, calls “double discrimination”

When I was growing up, the media mostly showcased half white bi/multiracial people who had eurocentric features. Take for example, Christina Aguilara, a singer who rose in the 90’s who is of Ecuadorian and European heritage. While I am all for Latina power, Christina Aguilara was a white Latina with blonde hair and blue eyes, someone who was the epitome of Western beauty standards. 

It was rare to see mixed-race people who did not have eurocentric features in the media or in power.

Now, in the time of Black Lives Matter, the call for racial justice and more diversity in a plethora of industries, we are seeing more representation. But how are we handling this?

As Kamala Harris rose to power in American government, the media couldn't grasp her identity. Media outlets would either underplay Kamala's South Asian heritage, or say she was not "Black enough" or "South Asian enough". 

This shows us that we still have a long way to go when it comes to understanding and conversing about race. Our society cannot seem to move beyond the black and white binary when it comes to race, and always feels the need to cast people in boxes.

RELATED: What Is Kamala Harris's Ethnicity?

Kamala Harris, however, embraces her mixed-race identity and shows us that our identity gives us power: “When I first ran for office that was one of the things that I struggled with, which is that you are forced through that process to define yourself in a way that you fit neatly into the compartment that other people have created. My point was: I am who I am. I’m good with it. You might need to figure it out, but I’m fine with it."

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Kamala Harris shows us that we need no one’s permission to be who we are, we only need to accept ourselves: “For other people who can’t figure out am I ‘Black enough,’ I kinda feel like that’s their problem, not mine. Maybe they need to go back to school to figure it out. And maybe they need to learn about the African diaspora and maybe they need to learn about a number of other things.”

Being a multiracial woman of color means you carry the expectations of many communities (in Harris’ case, being a woman, Black and South Asian), but still get questioned for your identity at the same time. Kamala Harris rejects the idea of needing to prove herself, and instead, finds solace in her identity and her family’s history by retelling the story of her mother’s journey throughout her campaign. 

Being mixed-race in America means you defy the boxes society puts you in. You challenge stereotypical notions of white supremacy. Kamala Harris disrupts the narrative that tells us “we’re not enough” and tells us that the different parts of our story actually makes us whole.

While it will always be a challenge to be mixed-race in America, Kamala Harris shows us that it’s about embracing who you are and finding power in that.

RELATED: 40 Inspirational Kamala Harris Quotes That Empower Us To Believe Anything Is Possible

Angelique Beluso is a sex educator and writer who covers feminism, pop culture and relationship topics.