By: Meghan Hudson, Editor-in-Chief
Guys. I know the news has been very frustrating lately, and it’s honestly just tiring trying to keep up. I’m now that person who refuses to turn on the news or read all of those he said she said headlines. However, even I caught wind of the discriminatory and false news stories attacking Kamala Harris following the announcement of her vice presidential candidacy.
For those of you who haven’t heard, presidential candidate Joe Biden has selected Harris to join his ticket as vice president. Since then, the Trump administration has come under fire for perpetuating false allegations against Harris.
In a press conference on Aug. 13, Trump told reporters that he heard Kamala Harris did not meet the candidacy requirements, even adding that the source he heard it from was a very qualified lawyer, suggesting the claim to be true. He is referring to an op-ed written by conservative lawyer John C. Eastman, who claims Harris to not be truly American.
“Article II of the Constitution specifies that ‘[n]o person except a natural born citizen…shall be eligible to the office of President.’” Eastman writes. “Her father was (and is) a Jamaican national, her mother was from India, and neither was a naturalized U.S. citizen at the time of Harris’ birth in 1964. That, according to these commentators, makes her not a “natural born citizen”—and therefore ineligible for the office of the president and, hence, ineligible for the office of the vice president.”
Any person reading this can see that the constitution is not stating that one’s natural born citizen status is changed by the status of their parents. This op-ed is littered with very apparent lies, and was validated by Trump.
Civil rights attorney Leo Terrell claims Biden is guilty of affirmative action, that he hired Harris because she is a black woman, overlooking her lack of qualifications.
But the fact is, Harris is qualified to run for vice president.
Here’s why I’m mad.
Candidates taking personal jabs at, painting a bad image or perpetuating fake news about their competitors is not new. I’m not even here to defend Biden or Harris in that regard. What I’m mad about is how women, especially women of color who are very much qualified for a position, are often assumed to be hired solely because of their minority status, they are assumed to be a pity hire. For women of color, their legal status is automatically not only questioned, but picked apart to find any kind of loophole to disqualify them.
Furthermore, the purpose of affirmative action has been twisted to allow silent racism to continue to plague the business world. Here’s how. Affirmative action was originally created to protect minority groups from being discriminated against during the hiring process. Executive Order 10925 signed by former President John F. Kennedy in 1961 required government contractors to hire and treat current employees as equals regardless of race, creed, color or national origin.
It has since been twisted to accuse employers of pity hiring minority groups despite their lack of qualifications. This twisted definition implicitly protects the majority group (white men), and allows for the qualification of minority employees to continuously be called into question solely for their minority status. An example of this is made through Terell’s claims against why Harris was hired, as stated previously.
We also picked apart the outrightly false claim that the birth places of Harris’ parents affect her candidacy eligibility. This is merely one example of millions of how persons of color need to battle egregious claims to be considered fit candidates. You may recall this same issue being raised when former President Barack Obama first ran for office. Despite releasing his birth certificate which proves he was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, the legitimacy of his citizenship was questioned and theorized by many, including Trump even after Obama had left office.
What is happening in politics is a giant reflection of what happens to people every single day. People of all political affiliations should see this and condemn this behavior from their neighbors, from their politicians, from their employers, and so on.
I’ll finish with this. As a woman of color, I am concerned about these issues, and I would like for everyone else to see them and understand them as well. This does not mean that I hate white men. I’ve heard far too many times that female activists or activists of color just hate white people. That is far from the truth. We are seeking changes to the construction of our nation- socially and constitutionally, which is built to exclude and dehumanize minority groups, and disproportionately affects their ability to both professionally and personally be ensured the opportunity and comfort in life to that of their white counterparts. It’s not about the likeability of white people, it’s about the disadvantaged lives of minorities, and how we can all grow to achieve equality.