During Thursday’s second evening of Democratic presidential debates, California Senator Kamala Harris relayed her experiences of being a Black woman, something no other candidate for the 2020 ticket can do.
“As the only Black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race,” she said. Harris’ breakout performance on the debate stage also included a spar with frontrunner Joe Biden, who she said was opposed to bussing to help desegregate schools in the 1970s.
The debate hadn’t even concluded before a racist wave of birtherism hit social media and made its way to Trump’s family. A user named Ali Alexander accused Kamala Harris, who was born to a father from Jamaica and a mother from India, of not being an “American Black.”
“She is half Indian and half Jamaican,” Alexander wrote. “I'm so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It's disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2? These are my people not her people. Freaking disgusting.”
Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican.— Ali Alexander (@ali) June 28, 2019
I'm so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It's disgusting. Now using it for debate time at #DemDebate2?
These are my people not her people.
Alexander’s assertion was picked up by Donald Trump Jr., who tweeted to his 3.6 million followers: “Is this true? Wow.” The tweet would later be deleted but not before it had made its rounds through the birther Twitterverse.
Kamala Harris’ team has since denounced the comment as racist. “This is the same type of racist attacks his father used to attack Barack Obama,” a spokesperson for Harris told The Daily Beast. “It didn’t work then and it won’t work now.”
A spokesman for Don Jr. claims he sent the tweet because he had not known that Harris’s mother was Indian.
“Don’s tweet was simply him asking if it’s true that Kamala Harris was half-Indian because it’s not something he had ever heard before and once he saw that folks were misconstruing the intent of his tweet he quickly deleted it,” the spokesman said.
The racist questions about Kamala Harris and her upbringing are right out of the birtherism playbook that was originally used to delegitimize Barack Obama’s presidency during his administration. Donald Trump became the biggest perpetuation of the false narrative that the 44th president wasn’t actually born in the United States. He would ultimately be proven wrong as Obama later shared his birth certificate publicly, which showed he was indeed born in Hawaii.
Photo: Darren Hauck/Getty Images and Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images