Kalamazoo County Commissioner Stephanie Moore reflects on the historic nature of Harris’ vice-presidential candidacy and how the Michigan woman connects with the California senator.
MICHIGAN — A comma is defined as a punctuation mark (,) indicating a pause between parts of a sentence. It is also used to separate items in a list and to mark the place of thousands in a large numeral.
How fitting it is that my party (the Democrat Party) has a Black and Indian American vice-presidential nominee with a name that is pronounced as “Comma-la.” When said correctly, one cannot help but to align with the definition of the word and pause. That pause is not only to make sure one is pronouncing her name correctly; the pause is appropriate because of WHO this particular person is. She is Sen. Kamala Harris, the first woman of color to be a vice-presidential nominee for a major political party in the United States of America. Pause.
When I think about Sen. Harris’ nomination and what it means to me personally, I honestly have to take a deep breath. Upon hearing presidential candidate Joe Biden announce Sen. Harris as his running mate, I initially stated that women of color, in particular Black women, had been affirmed by Biden’s announcement. But then, I took a pause.
As I read about the litany of accomplishments of Sen. Kamala Harris—how she has been the first in many things, how she has held her own sometimes as both the only woman and only woman of color in certain spaces—I had to rethink what I stated. The announcement of Sen. Harris as the Democrat vice-presidential nominee did not affirm her or any woman of color. We are already affirmed. In fact, simply by existing, we are literally defying natural law. When we walk in our accomplishments, we are defying space.
What do I mean by women of color defying natural law? Oh, well that’s simple. Our hair, in its natural state, defies gravity. The curls. The waves. The coils. The essence says to Mother Nature that our glory, our hair, does not abide by natural law, and therefore we walk in that. If you’ve ever watched Sen. Harris deplane or walk up a flight of stairs, she doesn’t walk; she floats. She glides. Her hair carries her, and with joy she bounces to an internal rhythm that is solely hers while at the same time familiar to us women of color. Pause.
Sen. Kamala Harris does not fit into any space. Her presence literally fills any place she is, and when she speaks, you see years of academia mixed with professional and lived experiences that are articulated and expressed universally. She is everyone’s “Funt” (aka fun-aunt). She’s our girlfriend who pulls us out in the rain to dance with us when she knows we don’t like to get our hair wet. She’s the sensible adult who holds you accountable by prosecuting the facts and not letting you get away with nonsense. Her expressions are priceless. Her tone and tenor are on point. Any space she finds herself in becomes pliable because Sen. Harris is not one to be boxed in. Like Neo from the Matrix, when she flexes, the matter that makes up the room flexes with her. Pause.
Observing Sen. Harris over these past months has given me permission to be okay with me. I look at her accomplishments and I see myself, my sisters, my mothers, my aunts, my grandmothers, and my daughters. We are not meant to fit in any space because we are designed to defy the space. We are not meant to follow natural law because we are designed to defy it.
To see a woman of color in action can often be misconstrued by those who do not understand why we just can’t follow the rules, why we won’t be still, or why we don’t look like everyone else. I have experienced the political attacks and hurt from those who welcome my color but not my voice. Yet, like Sen. Harris, I can only be who I am. Pause.
I implore us to not only celebrate Sen. Harris, but all women of color in your neighborhood, community, and the world. When we are empowered to fully be ourselves, we do not allow the status quo or systems to keep us from accomplishing our purpose. Like the sun, we shine every time, and like the moon, we rise up to every occasion. Like water, we carry everyone along with us. Like trees, we will cover you but will also shade you.
So today, I, Stephanie Moore, “pause for Kamala,” Sen. Harris—a prosecutor, wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, and soon to be the vice president of the United States of America. Applause!
Written by Stephanie Moore