Kamala Harris, in full Kamala Devi Harris was born October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California, U.S.). She is the 49th and current vice president of the United States in the Democratic administration of President Joe Biden. She had previously served in the U.S. Senate (2017–21) and as attorney general of California (2011–17).
She is the first woman, the first Black woman, the first South Asian daughter of immigrants, and the first graduate of a historically Black university to be sworn in as the nation’s vice president.
She’s also a wife to Douglas Emhoff and stepmother to his two children, Cole and Ella.
Below are five things women of color can learn from her:
- Don’t cower, join in your effort:
Kamala Harris has demonstrated tremendous ambition throughout her career. The only Black woman in the US Senate, she was elected as a senator in 2016 after serving as California’s attorney general. As the child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, Harris has said she was inspired to attend law school after joining civil rights protests with her parents.
My daily challenge to myself is to be part of the solution, Harris wrote in her memoir ; The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. “My challenge to you is to join that effort. To stand up for our ideals and values. Years from now, I don’t want us to tell our children and grandchildren just how we felt. I want us to tell them what we did.”
- Use the power of your voice to stand up for your values and make a difference:
Kamala Harris wrote an op-ed piece for USA Today recently that criticized the Trump administration for its failures in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. In a searing conclusion, she wrote: “Solutions are out there; we just need competent leaders who know how to listen, lead with empathy, and get things done.” The power of Kamala’s voice is striking. Both as a speaker and writer. Harris is clear, passionate, and brave.
Kamala did not always feel empowered about expressing her opinions. For much of her career, Harris was the only one in the room who looked like her.
“The thing to remember is you are never in that room alone,” Harris told the New York Times. “We are all in that room with you, expecting that you will use your voice, and use it with pride , use it in a way that represents all of those who are in the room with you but not physically there. It is part of the way I approach my work and always have.”
- Develop your leadership gravitas:
The ability to get people to listen to you, to trust and follow you is the essence of leadership. That’s why, as a leader, you need to perfect your communication skills constantly. Like Kamala Harris, you need to master the art of leadership communication, as well as gravitas.
Gravitas is a quality that a leader exudes because she chooses to say and do only what is important. Having gravitas means you are taken seriously, your contributions are considered important, and you are trusted and respected.
- Build your Emotional Intelligence to act with grace:
Standing your ground and being assertive does not imply being rude or unprofessional. Alongside grit and confidence, Kamala Harris has shown a tremendous capacity for grace, even when under fire.
Kamala speaks in a firm, assertive way, yet her voice and language never sound aggressive or vicious, even in stressful situations. On the contrary, she stays non-judgmental, convivial and friendly.
- Be proud of who you are:
Twitter fell in love with Kamala when she used the Tamil word ‘chithis’, which means Aunty.
Kamala has never been shy of her Indian connections, as well of her Jamaican roots.
Born to a Black father and an Indian mother, Kamala grew up embracing her Indian culture and taking great pride in it
She lists idli with ‘really good sambar‘ and ‘any kind of tikka‘ as her favorite Indian dishes.
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