The Meaning of Kamala Harris for the Multiracial Community

Role models matter.

Posted Aug 12, 2020 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch

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Role models matter, and it is empowering to look up to someone who "looks like you".
Source: Pro-stock studio / Adobe Stock

Regardless of your political affiliation — left, right, or in between — Kamala Harris' vice-presidential candidacy is monumental for so many, especially women, women of color, and multiracial women. Seeing a Black and South Asian Indian woman leader on the national and global level is a symbol of hope and a sign of progress. 

A multiracial woman myself, I grew up without multiracial mentors and without biracial women I could see myself in. In the multiracial community, a wish for belonging and a hunger to be fully seen (not just as one racial or ethnic group, but for all of our cultural identities) are common needs and experiences. There can be loneliness and rejection from society, family, and institutions. Multiracial persons demonstrate great resiliency and flexibility growing up in these racial climates.  

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Culturally diverse role models can positively impact self-esteem and self-efficacy of youth and adults.
Source: Bubanga / Adobe Stock

Think how often we ask young people, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Children typically answer this inquiry with occupations they see others around them do, and with jobs they come to believe are within their reach. The confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, and self-efficacy of children are highly impacted by what society values and who society respects. Therefore, Harris being on the ticket has vast meaning for youth of color and multiracial youth. 

Harris stands on the shoulders of suffragettes, civil rights pioneers, and of course her immigrant parents. She is also standing tall as a mirror to current and future generations, reflecting back an identity we can look up to.

References

Chang, S.H. (2016). Raising mixed race: Multiracial Asian children in a post-racial world. New York, NY: Routledge.

Miville, M. L. (2005). Psychological functioning and identity development of Biracial people: A review of current theory and research. In R. T.Carter (Ed.), Handbook of racial–cultural psychology and counseling (pp. 295–319). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Pew and Research Center (2015). Multiracial in America. http://www.pewresearch.org/multiracial-voices/