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Heritage of Kamala Harris Under Fire

Her dad is Jamaican and her mom is Indian, and a far-right critic says she's not an 'American Black'
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 29, 2019 6:01 PM CDT
A 1970 photo provided by the Kamala Harris campaign shows her, left, with her sister, Maya, and mother, Shyamala, outside their apartment in Berkeley, California.   (Kamala Harris campaign via AP)
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(Newser) – Kamala Harris made big headlines at the first Democratic debate for her criticism of Joe Biden's previous stances on race legislation. “As the only black person on this stage, I would like to speak on the issue of race,” Harris said at one point. That line, however, has since set off a whole lot of controversy regarding Harris' heritage, controversy that includes a deleted retweet from the president's son. The details:

  • The tweet: When Harris called herself black during the debate, a figure on the right named Ali Alexander tweeted: "Kamala Harris is *not* an American Black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. I'm so sick of people robbing American Blacks (like myself) of our history. It's disgusting. ..."
  • The facts: Harris' father is from Jamaica and her mother is from India, per BuzzFeed. The first-term senator was born in Oakland, spent her high school years in Canada after her parents' divorce, then returned to the US.
  • Going viral: Alexander's tweet went viral, thanks to retweets from Donald Trump Jr. and other high-profile figures. Social media researcher Caroline Orr suggested that bots also helped spread the message, reports the New York Times. “A lot of suspect accounts are pushing the ‘Kamala Harris is not Black’ narrative tonight,” Orr tweeted. "It’s everywhere and it has all the signs of being a coordinated/artificial operation.”

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