The Kamala Harris identity debate shows how America still struggles to talk about multiracial people

By: Nisha Chittal,  Vox
August 14, 2020

Carole Boyce-Davies, a professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University, told Vox that the pressure to choose an identity is something uniquely faced by Black Americans with immigrant families. “This is a good time for Americans to think through this question, and particularly since it’s not raised often in the context of white immigrant identities. [White immigrants] just pass and fade into white identities, and nobody knows what their background is.” The pressure to choose one identity over the other, Boyce-Davies said, is “often put on Black subjects, or subjects of color, where people feel you don’t have full allegiance to one identity when really we are all a complex set of identities.”

This is, unfortunately, a familiar situation for multiracial Americans. Over a decade ago, then-Sen. Barack Obama faced similar questions about whether he was “Black enough.” And Kamala Harris, who was then the San Francisco district attorney, spoke up in his defense in a San Francisco Chronicle article in 2007, saying: “The conversation highlights the lack of information that people in general have about African American contributions … That is the added significance of Barack Obama. He is opening up what has been a limited perspective of who is an African American.”

Read the entire article in The Vox.

Professor Carole Boyce Davies