June 08, 2016

Sundial Bridge

Sundial Bridge

Source: Bigstock

The New York Times reported last week:

Kamala Harris made history when she became the first black woman to be elected attorney general in California…. Ms. Harris would be the first black woman in the United States Senate since Carol Moseley Braun, an Illinois Democrat who served from 1993 to 1999, and Ms. Sanchez would become the first Latina elected to the Senate.

Interestingly, there was no mention in the Times account of Harris”€™ mother, an immigrant doctor from India who raised her, often in Montreal, after her father, a Jamaican economist, left. The analogy of Kamala Harris to Barack Obama is too embarrassingly obvious to spell out: America loves African-American politicians…as long as they weren”€™t actually raised by their African-American fathers, who, ideally, aren”€™t even American.

In practice, the current Democratic party line appears to be: The less American America’s African-American politicians, the better.

It might seem curious that there was no reference to Harris being half Asian by ancestry in the Times, especially because California is now more than twice as Asian as it is black. But blacks remain the glamour minority, especially in places like San Francisco from which they are being economically cleansed by high home prices.

There was no mention in the Times article of Harris hoping to become California’s first Asian senator, partly because that would be confusing to the Narrative, partly because California elected an Asian Republican 40 years ago.

Back in 1976, S.I. Hayakawa, a semanticist with intellectual ties to California’s science-fiction writers, such as A.E. van Vogt and Robert Heinlein, defeated Democratic incumbent John Tunney (the son of former heavyweight champion Gene Tunney, who beat Jack Dempsey in the 1927 Long Count bout). In the late 1960s, the sci-fi-loving Reagan had appointed Hayakawa president of San Francisco State College, where his strong stand against rioting radicals had earned him the sobriquet from the governor of “€œmy samurai.”€

During his tenure, Hayakawa was one of three Japanese in the U.S. Senate. Today, in an era that believes that racism was overwhelmingly rife until approximately last week, recollection of Hayakawa has pretty much disappeared down the memory hole.

A major political asset that helped move Harris to the front of speculation about the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020″€“24″€”Obama, for example, said of her, “€œShe also happens to be, by far, the best-looking attorney general in the country”€”€”is that she inherited her South Asian mother’s long straight hair. Chris Rock’s 2009 documentary Good Hair points out that most of the hair African-American women buy for weaves comes from Hindu temples that get poor Indian women to shave their heads as religious offerings.

But all else being equal, it remains a huge political advantage in contemporary America to be able to identify as black.


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