I am a Black female in the United States, and I cannot vote for Kamala Harris – or Joe Biden.
I wasn’t enthused when Joe Biden became the Democratic nominee for U.S. President. (That’s an understatement: I stated emphatically that I would not - could not - vote for Joe Biden.) Then, Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate. My view has not changed.
I am a Black female Millennial, United States citizen, and voter. My family did not emigrate to the United States, my family was brought to the United States on slave ships. My family continues to suffer under racist policies, discriminatory hiring, poor healthcare reserved for and apportioned to Blacks, disparate and unjust judgments issued to Black Americans in U.S. courts, unequal education, attacks on Black finances, and unequal and disparate outcomes in housing. (This list is not exhausted, it is only the beginning of what I endure as a Black woman in a nation that hates Black Americans with a valid claim against its government for injuries which have been inflicted.)
There is not a single aspect of American life that is unmarred by racism perpetuated and condoned by the U.S. government. And this view is not my own: you can’t possibly believe that the George Floyd protests are simply about the killing of one man; the protests are about the systemic, prolific, unjustified and unredressed denial of civil and human rights to Black and brown descendants of U.S. government sanctioned slavery. This is an injury, injustice, and denial quite distinct from the desires and demands of black individuals who emigrate to the United States of their free will to build a life better than that available to them in the lands from which they are fleeing.
Black American descendants of U.S. sanctioned slavery have always been on the front lines of the fight for the soul of this nation. We have been stripped of dignity, denied redress and even the most basic right to plead our injuries in an unbiased forum and be justly compensated for what we have suffered and endured. Instead, individuals from almost every corner of the globe have settled on a consensus that Black descendants of U.S. slavery are complaining without merit, that we are lazy and greedily asking for handouts for injuries which are actually not that bad or that occurred a long time ago. (My white, Jewish, and Hispanic neighbors are among the worst neighbors any Black citizen could encounter. They occupy schools, government offices, private businesses and law firms. I often wonder how many Black humans have been injured and denied their rights by these immoral and amoral people.)
This racist and ignorant consensus eagerly agreed to by our neighbors for fear that their slice of the American pie may be reduced culminates with the false belief that other (injured, non-Black) groups currently in America (i.e. Jews, Italians, Irish, and Hispanics) pulled themselves up by their bootstraps. Of course, this flawed ideology overlooks key facts, for example, that these other groups fled the horrific conditions and lands of their abusers (something Black descendants of U.S. slavery have been unable to do, largely due to the type of deprivations Black descendants of slavery have suffered, i.e. loss of resources and reputation – which has deemed the community undeserving of aid at home or abroad), Holocaust survivors are compensated, and U.S. law provides protections for immigrants fleeing their abusive countries; and, Native Americans receive U.S. government recognition and sovereignty (which makes Native Americans sympathetic in the view of neighbors foreign and domestic). Meanwhile, Black Americans (descendants of U.S. government sanctioned slavery) continue to be a just a catchphrase for every crook to exploit and fundraise from.
Our purpose here today is not to assess or compare whether the aid received by inured groups is sufficient or just. Today, we must simply acknowledge that other (non-Black) injured groups have received some aid and actual support to dispel the most ridiculous notion that Black descendants of U.S. slavery should be required to cure injuries which they did not inflict, and that Black America must cure these injuries alone. (Afterall, it wasn’t Black America that enslaved Black Americans; those who caused the injury and who profit[ed] from the deprivation must redress the wrong: it’s the American way.) We cannot suddenly adopt new values and methodologies to protect wrong doers and profiteers of injustice from being identified and compelled to provide recompense for that wrong - not if all lives matter, and all lives are adjudged equal.
No other group in U.S. history has been made to suffer the injury, injustice, and insult the way Black descendants of U.S. slavery are now being required to do - to shoulder an unjust burden, to self-heal and self-redress - unaided and alone, with an authoritative boot still on our necks; inequity and racism still coming against us, with our neighbors standing by ambivalent and dismissive of the continued harassment, discrimination, and violence actively committed against Black descendants of slavery - and by the very institution which committed the original crime!
No, your hashtags are not enough! No, marching is no longer enough! We, as a nation, have progressed; we have more resources and options at our disposal which makes your efforts appear clearly for what it is: useless.
Where does this leave us? America? Black descendants of U.S. slavery?
At this consequential time, U.S. media and television personalities laud Kamala Harris as some sort of savior for U.S. Black women, and the Black community, when it is clear that the opposite is true. In fact, Kamala’s selection reaffirms all of the reasons that Joe Biden is wrong for America - and why Kamala is dead wrong for America. Black America didn’t enslave Black Americans, but overwhelmingly black, brown, Asian, Hispanic, white, and European immigrants did not aid in the fight to end the persecution, violence, discrimination, racism, murder, and rape of the Black descendants of U.S. sanctioned slavery! They arrived with a singular mission: self-fulfillment, at any cost, the lives and injuries of Black Americans be damned! (How could any person Black or otherwise vote for any person of any race whose selfishness exceeds their moral rationale? If we wouldn’t tolerate cruel and inhumane treatment from whites who enslaved Blacks why would we give Kamala a pass?) Having a gently-Black complexion does not permit Kamala to commit acts against the Black community and expect a pardon from the Black community.
Poor judgment, entitled, self-serving, and self-dealing: Biden remains utterly unqualified for the office of U.S. President. Biden has never been up for the top job, and has built an entire career being a backseat driver for those of qualification and character. Biden believes that because he has suffered life events which any Black descendant of U.S. slavery could tell you is just another part of the [Black] American experience or simply put ‘life’ that he should be trusted and elevated to the highest office in the land.
From a Marine, a daughter of Marine, a Black woman, and a descendant of U.S. government slavery, who knows nothing but suffering in America, I have a message for Biden, and any other person who lacks the discernment, mental toughness, or rational capabilities to understand that suffering is a part the human experience (no person is exempt); if suffering, deprivation, and loss was a measure of presidential character than we could almost always exclude white American men from the top contenders list for the U.S. presidency. However, that isn’t the least of Biden’s failures or oversight with which he approaches his quest for ascension.
Did we forget Anita Hill? Did we forget that Joe Biden has been credibly accused of sexual misconduct? Closing your eyes does not clear Biden of these allegations. How could we forget how Biden responded to these allegations, or how Biden responded when confronted with how he has mishandled positions of trust, authority, and leadership. (No, this cannot wait until after Biden has ascended; we the people demand an answer now!)
Did Biden respond like a champion or warrior, a great defender of civil and human rights in America? Did he respond like a man who cherished and valued America and her values? No, he did not. He responded like a white man in America who has never been held accountable for his failures. Even when we insist that Donald J. Trump be held accountable for each deed, as all leaders must for a democracy to succeed, we appoint Biden as a King of America – even before the election – unaccountable to lowly female subjects who have voiced grievances and accusations. (Is this not the quintessential difference between America and those nations deemed inferior? The right of ordinary and equal citizens to have their grievances heard and addressed? What precedent are we setting as Americans if we allow Biden to ascend before we issue a competent investigation into Biden indeed committed the alleged acts against his accuser.) Yet, rather than hold Biden accountable, the democratic party anoints Biden as King, surrounds him by figures like Bill Clinton and Michael Bloomberg, and then puts the females on trial or worse – dismisses their grievances and injuries as if they weren’t a part of this democracy too. What America are we living in? Who are we (Americans) in 2020?
As a woman, a Black woman, a female descendant of U.S. slavery, I am particularly weary of those who cannot be held accountable. America is ideally, at its best, a nation where no person is above the law and all persons are deemed equal. Yet, because of racism and corporate greed, America allowed Donald J. Trump to reign. Now, in a last-ditch effort to correct its error, America is now prepared to anoint Biden to reign, giving him sovereignty, and refusing to even question his true record or alleged acts against lowly citizens. If we do this, we are no longer America; I beg you to reconsider how you are prepared to save the democracy, because a democracy has never been built from a people stripped of their ability to choose.
Make no mistake: the 2016 election of Donald Trump was an appointment, and the 2020 election now seeks to appoint Joseph Biden. As a woman, a Black woman, and a descendant of U.S. slavery, a survivor of sexual assault and campus assault, I must warn you: neither Joseph Biden or Donald J. Trump are qualified to lead. Our democracy is failing because a few today believe they are qualified to act on behalf of ALL of us. America deserves much better than Joseph Biden. And we don’t get to a better America by pretending Biden is electable just because we dislike Donald Trump. This is not the American way.
Americans are not demanding a perfect presidential candidate, we’re simply demanding a candidate who is Presidential and aligned with the clear values that we, Americans, have set for ourselves, and which we are idealized for by other nations.
With the nomination and acceptance of Joe Biden as the Democratic nominee for U.S. President, we fail to adhere to the highest standards we set for America. I can play no role in an election which seeks to appoint Joseph Biden or Donald Trump – both are clearly unqualified and diminish the office.
Only when Donald J. Trump is the alternative could Biden be a serious consideration for the office of the U.S. Presidency (with his immaturity, lack of ability, and penchant for grudges, because of his clear lack of leadership and experience, I am sure my name is likely being added to a list of enemies and detractors to be ignored and penalized. Yet, what Joe Biden’s privileged, white male American experience does not permit him to comprehend is that as a Black female descendant of U.S. government slavery, being ignored, penalized, and discriminated against by my own government is the only reality that I know. As a descendant of U.S. slavery, I already possess a far greater understanding of democracy than either Joe Biden or Donald Trump can ever claim to know from their castles.
Joe Biden’s failures and lack of leadership have led him to incorrectly assume that any Black woman nominated for U.S. Vice President will save or help Black Americans (and earn him Black votes). This is far from true. There is a type of Black nominee that can do more harm to Black communities than Donald J. Trump himself, and that woman is named Kamala Harris.
Kamala, overwhelmingly already earlier rejected for the U.S. Presidency, has always helped Kamala. Her efforts and career has served to elevate and advance Kamala personally. Entitled, self-serving, and self-dealing (it isn’t hard to see why Joe Biden chose Kamala). The daughter of immigrants, Kamala’s public-facing U.S. career has mostly centered entirely on the personal and professional advancement of a single individual: Kamala Harris. Of course, this self-centered focus advanced by people of color almost always proves fatal to the personal and professional advancement of one of the most vulnerable and long-suffering U.S. populations still yearning to be free: Black descendants of U.S. slavery.
Black descendants of U.S. slavery are not willing to sell our people for a piece of bread or the nomination or title of U.S. Vice President. (Why do you think immigrants do so well when they arrive to America? It isn’t because they work harder or are smarter: often, they are willing to commit acts and makes decisions which others have shunned because of the inhumane impact on people and communities.) However, Kamala is willing, and has, in fact, already done so. Kamala has proved time and again that she would transgress against a community for as a bowl of rice or piece of bread so long as it benefits Kamala. There is nothing worse than being betrayed, belittled, denigrated, diminished, and sold into slavery by someone who claims to be your brother or sister, or who shares your characteristics. It is a wound which will never heal. (Yet, as the offender, Kamala’s duty and destiny is to beg forgiveness from those who she has injured by her selfish lusts for power.)
This type of ‘activism’ perpetuated by people of color against people of color sends a clear message to racists in the United States and around the world: racist can achieve their goals and appear politically correct or hide racism in plain site by tolerating, hiring, and advancing only those Black and brown people who also cause harm to Black and brown people. It isn’t only Kamala’s commissions but her omissions which make her so dangerous to my community.
This is the clear danger of Kamala Harris: rather than stand with, fight for, defend, protect, advance, and promote goals, ideas, and values that benefit a community, Kamala has always – from start to finish – shed anything and anyone that gets in the way of Kamala first. This is not a woman of color I would support for the U.S. Presidency, for U.S. Vice President, for the Senate, or for a nursery. Kamala’s appointment can only be monumental in a society where racism is flourishing: she has already proved herself to be more of a danger to Black America than Donald J. Trump himself. With Kamala, you won’t see the discrimination until it is too late.
I am Theresa Giovanna. These are my honest and humble opinions and experiences. And THIS is what gives me hope today.
America, at its best, is a land not of king-makers and autocrats, but of many diverse people, nations, and ideologies. I have faith, that in spite of past and present failures, Black American descendants of U.S. slavery will rise in spite of mass efforts to thwart redress and recompense. We are not a land of kings, so this ascension will not be due to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, or Donald Trump and Mike Pence, but because Black Americans are resilient, faith-filled, warriors, and advocates of the highest order.
As a Black woman, I have watched every modern social justice initiative launched during my lifetime fail to protect and defend Black people from the violence and discrimination that has long impoverished the American Black community, even while according relief to similarly situated non-Black humans, and even when the very mission of the organization is to aid Black Americans. This impacts me in multiple ways, but not a single one of those ways motivates me to hate in response to even this injustice. I recognize the disproportionate, up-hill battle faced by descendants of U.S. slavery, and I am committed to fight for redress. I am no Kamala Harris. I am Theresa Giovanna. I will stand with my community at its lowest points, as I have always done throughout my personal and professional life.
I cannot leave my security, wellbeing, and future in the hands of another. So, on election day, I Theresa Giovanna will cast my vote. My vote will not be for a candidate or political system – Frankly, I see no good choices here – instead, I will cast my vote for democracy, justice, and redress.