The offensive nature of Georgia Sen. David Perdue deliberately mispronouncing the name of Democratic vice-presidential candidate and fellow Sen. Kamala Harris at a Donald Trump campaign rally has caused major backlash. But the Indian-American community was particularly upset at the ridiculing of her name, and pushed back against Perdue’s mocking.
“The most insidious thing that Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden and are trying to perpetrate and Bernie (Sanders) and Elizabeth (Warren) and Kamala...or what KAH-mah-lah? Kah-MAH-lah? Kamala-mala-mala?! I don’t know, whatever,” Purdue said to the crowd in Macon, Ga., on Friday (Oct. 15) about Harris, who identifies as both Black through her father Donald Harris and South Asian through her Indian-born late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris.
Perdue, who is running for re-election, angered many in the South Asian community beginning with Harris’ press secretary Sabrina Singh, who is Indian-American herself.
“I’ll keep it simple: If you can pronounce ‘former’ Senator David Perdue, you can pronounce ‘future’ Vice President Kamala Harris,” Singh told the India-based newspaper The Hindu.
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In addition, Amit Jani, the Biden-Harris campaign Asian American and Pacific Islander Outreach Coordinator launched a new social media campaign called #MyNameIs, which many of South Asian heritage have been responding to.
Others of non-South Asian heritage have joined in supporting the cause as well.
Perdue’s spokesperson John Burke tweeted Saturday that the Senator “didn’t mean anything by it.” However, Perdue himself has not issued a public apology. According to The Hill, his lampooning of Harris actually raised $1.8 million in support of his U.S. Senate race rival, Jon Ossoff in what is already a very close contest. Ossoff is only one point behind Perdue in a RealClearPolitics polling average.