NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Sen. Kamala Harris‘ nomination is igniting hope in communities of color.
People of African-American and South Asian descent say her presence on the ballot speaks to those under-represented in government, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Wednesday.
Piya Nair Newkirk was nearly in tears as she spoke about Kamala Harris, the first Black woman and South Asian woman to be nominated for vice president in a major party.
“I was surprised at how emotional I got because I was so happy,” Newkirk said.
Newkirk is South Asian, born in India. Her husband is biracial, Black and white. So for their children, 7-year-old Jai and 6-month-old Asha, Newkirk said Harris, with a South Asian mother and Jamaican father, embodies all that is possible.
“It inspires me. It is a celebration of both cultures. My Indian side, my children’s Black side, and Biden, who is white, and that ticket together really represents who we are.”
Watch Hazel Sanchez’s report —
On the streets of Harlem, African-American women were celebrating Harris’ historic nomination as vice president for the Democratic Party.
“It’s wonderful. It’s time for the woman,” Deborah Whitaker said.
“It allows women of color to know that they can do anything, be anything, and just move forward, especially the young girls,” Meckha Cherry added.
Pride could be felt in the South Asian community in Jersey City. Ravi Chandak said it’s encouraging to see someone his 17-year-old daughter can identify with running for office.
“Typically what happens, Indians are more into education and don’t take too much interest into politics,” Chandak said.
“We don’t see ourselves in positions of power,” Kriti Chandak added. “It shows that America, itself, is taking a step forward.”
“Just to see her morph into this awesome being. Everything about her is inspiring,” Inez Brown said of Harris.
Brown, the director of graduate student affairs at John Jay College, said Harris has been a motivator in her life since they became sorority sisters at Howard University in the 1980s.
Harris’ ambition and grit continues to move her and Black women today.
“It makes you rethink where you are in the space in your life, and, hey, what can I do to level up? What can I do to sort of take some of this energy and sort of affect change in the way that she does because she positively affects change,” Brown said.
Kimberley Copeland is the Manhattan Chapter president of the Links Incorporated, one of the nation’s oldest civic organizations made up of Black women, of which Harris is a member.
“We see Senator Harris and we feel seen in her nomination,” Copeland said. “It’s significant because she represents a standard of excellence that is not unfamiliar to many in the Black community and to many Black women.”
“You know, you actually go through life thinking that that could never happen. Like, I could never see someone who looks like me,” Links Incorporated member Tiffany Lemon told CBS2’s Ali Bauman. “This signifies something that is really beyond what we can tell even in our lifetime.”
Fairleigh Dickinson professor Khyati Joshi, who specializes in race, religion, immigration, and social justice education, said Harris’ nomination will give a voice to the South Asian community.
“South Asians are often marginalized and invisible, especially in politics and government,” Joshi said. “People can never underestimate the impact of being able to see someone like you in these positions.”
Joshi said Harris may be the new face of politics, and people of all of races must realize, no matter how you identify yourself, there is power in that.
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