Fawzia Afzal-Khan in Counterpunch:
My daughter, a Pakistani American mother of two young children, married to an African American man of Jamaican parentage, is understandably excited about our new Veep-to-be, Kamala Harris. She keeps sending me articles by “desi” women like herself in relationships with Black men, who are excited about this new chapter dawning in American history.
What is particularly poignant for young mothers of biracial kids like hers, is the hope that Kamala’s ascension to the second most powerful position in the country’s leadership, will simultaneously mitigate the anti-Black racism within the South Asian community. Thus, when Sharda Sekaran, a “Blindian” (Black and Indian) young woman interviewed for a recent essay in The Lily that my daughter sent me this morning, interprets Kamala Harris’ election as “a validation of the identity I’ve had to fight for”— how can one not feel elated at the prospect of people like my own darling granddaughter growing up feeling similarly empowered in their identities as Black South Asians for the first time in US history? How can I deny that as a Pakistani immigrant myself, I’ve not seen the anti-black prejudice that one associates largely, if not exclusively with white supremacy, also prevalent in my own “desi”- American community?But the question that doesn’t get raised in these expressions of delight at having one’s “identity” now represented at the highest levels of officialdom, is whether having a “Blindian” woman as Vice President is enough of a victory against the forces of regression. The title of the recent article in The Lily, “Kamala Harris has elevated the Blindian community: ‘It’s a validation of the identity I’ve had to fight for’” —begs the question, is the “validation” that may come from seeing a Black and Desi woman “elevated” to high office really worth all the excitement and anticipation? In other words, is identity politics at the level of representation enough, by itself?
I’m old enough to remember first hand a similar excitement many of us who were new immigrants from countries of the global South like Pakistan, felt when the Reverend Jesse Jackson created his National Rainbow Coalition as a platform for his 1984 presidential run.