On January 21, 2019, Kamala Harris announced she was running for president of the United States. A member of the Democratic Party, she was first elected to the Senate in 2016. Harris became the second black woman elected to the U.S. Senate and the first Indian American to serve in the chamber.
She served as attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017. When she took office, Harris became the state’s first female, first black, and first Asian American attorney general, as well as the first Tamil attorney general in U.S. history. She also served as San Francisco’s district attorney from 2004 to 2011.
February 11th, 2019, while promoting her presidential run on a radio show called “The Breakfast Club,” she was asked if she had ever smoked weed. In a jovial manner, she replied, “Half my family’s from Jamaica — are you kidding me?”
Harris said she smoked a joint in college. “And I did inhale,” she said. “I just broke news.”
It’s mildly entertaining and indeed reminiscent of when Barack Obama said, “I thought that was the point,” when asked if “he inhaled,” or when Bill Clinton originated his own parody stating that he “didn’t inhale.”
But not everyone’s laughing. Critics of Kamala Harris have pointed out that while she is endorsing a bill to legalize cannabis at the Federal level, she didn’t back legalizing cannabis for recreational use until last year, two years after California voters did. In 2010, when she was San Francisco’s district attorney and campaigning to become California’s attorney general, she also opposed a statewide ballot measure to legalize marijuana, calling that proposal “flawed public policy.”
She has also apparently enraged her father, her scathingly came out stating his distaste for his daughter’s statement. Donald Harris made a statement to jamaicaglobalonline.com, saying, “My dear departed grandmothers (whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents, must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”
Donald Harris has written extensively about his daughter’s Jamaican heritage in that same publication online, and ganja isn’t mentioned at all.
Her parents divorced when she was young. Kamala was raised mostly by her mother, who was born in India, spending most of her formative years in the East Bay and in Canada.
The Harris campaign has not responded to requests for comments about her father’s statements.
Would it have been less offensive had she pointed out that in her mother’s Indian heritage bhang is a sacred low dose herb from cannabis sativa use for medicinal purposes? Then she could have added as an aside that, yes she did inhale.
Unfortunately, she not only enforced a stereotype of Jamaicans that smoke weed, but she also reinforced it as a college experiential event. The Jamaicans I know don’t smoke weed, and the people I know who consume cannabis aren’t doing it to experiment with getting high.
She was probably just trying to make a light hearted joke, but it seems like she’s only talking about it now, years after California legalization and using it conveniently as a campaign tool.
How harmful was her comment really? Let us know what you think on social media, Instagram:
@ediblesmagazine, Twitter: @edibleslist
B. Le Grand