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kamala harris has been tough on black people, not crime

January 25, 2019
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A couple months ago, I was chillin’ at my potna house watching football. During a commercial break, we started talking about Kamala Harris — and my potna’s older cousin shouted, “Kamala Harris! She been lockin’ niggas up at Renee (referring to the Oakland courthouse) since way back in the day and was doin’ it with a smile on her face.” He wasn’t wrong. Kamala Harris has spent her career as the district attorney of Alameda County, San Francisco, and as the Attorney General aka The Top Cop of California.

As someone from the Bay Area and living in Oakland, I am constantly reminded of her history of locking up Black people in the Bay Area. Her track record consists of terrorizing Black communities through the prison industrial complex and she has consistently shown herself to be an enemy to the masses of Black people.

While I admit the symbol of having a Black woman as president sounds nice, it doesn’t exclude Kamala from being critiqued. I operate under the political belief that there are no good presidents. Presidents are just figureheads for the white supremacist settler colonial state. I aim to have a principled critique of her record that advances Black political thought, yet Twitter has been full of misogynist critiques of Kamala. It is important we critique her while avoiding misogynoir, as there is no place for misogynoir in the Black liberation movement.

Whether it was declining to advocate for legalization of marijuana in California, in which Black people are arrested at the highest rate. Or her failure to support body cameras for the police while simultaneously opposing legislation that would require her office to independently investigate police shootings. Kamala is not for the people. She even defended the 3 strikes law, in which Black people are incarcerated at a rate 12 times higher than whites. Kamala Harris has demonstrated through her actions that she does not value Black lives, but rather supports our death via the carceral state.

Kamala’s support of the death penalty, which is a modern day form of lynching that has executed hundreds of innocent people, and also disproportionately affects Black people proves that she doesn’t value Black lives. Kamala even advocated that an innocent Black man named Kevin Cooper, who was a death row inmate and had a trial that was rooted in overt racism and corruption, be executed. She advocated for this even though Kevin had DNA evidence that proved his innocence yet Kamala Harris opposed it until the New York Times exposed the case.

Furthermore, America has no moral ability to be able to decide who lives and who dies. The death penalty is fundamentally racist, yet Kamala supports it — furthering her record as a tough on crime politician.

Not only has she failed to support policies that might improve the lives of Black people, she has defended the need for prison slavery. What’s dangerous about Kamala is that she weaponizes “civil rights” language however her actions prove otherwise. For instance, she said “the idea that we incarcerate people to have indentured servitude is one of the worst possible perceptions…I feel very strongly about that. It evokes images of chain gangs.” Despite making the connection between prison labor and chain gangs —she “pushed back against a federal order to expand an early parole program, arguing that it would deplete their stock of prison labor, especially inmates who fight wildfires”. These inmates make a dollar an hour, which is a form of slavery. Kamala is not only a super cop, but an adamant defender of the institution of policing that is rooted in slave patrols.

Kamala Harris evokes the language of being a civil rights leader for Black people. In her video announcement for president, she weaponized words like “truth, justice, and equality” and her campaign slogan is “for the people”. This is propaganda, and this campaign strategy isn’t something new, rather it follows what I refer to as the Obama Plan. The Obama Plan is a campaign strategy that will center a civil rights type narrative such as “hope” and will also use all the elements of Blackness we like in order to get a Black person elected. This campaign uses the popular aesthetics of Blackness despite the actions of Harris being fundamentally anti-Black.

Kamala used this plan by announcing her run for presidency on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a day that celebrates the radical legacy of a Black man who stood for the liberation of Black lives with both an anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist politic. Kamala Harris announcing her run for presidency on MLK Day is disrespectful to King’s legacy and is a spit in the face to the Black radical tradition. Her announcing on MLK day is propaganda. It’s meant to fool Black people that she’s actually for us, despite her actions terrorizing the Black community through her role as a prosecutor. It shows us how Black liberals will weaponize the aesthetics of a freedom fighter in order to strengthen the united states colonial empire.

It is important that we understand that the “criminal justice system” is built upon the legacy of chattel slavery, and that it’s primary role is to lock up Black, Brown, and poor people to maintain a workforce (re: slaves) that supplies America an endless amount of free labor. This being said, Kamala has been the slave auctioneer and sending Black people to prison in order to maintain this endless supply of free labor. Yet some claim that she was a “progressive prosecutor”. How can there be a progressive prosecutor if the foundation of the criminal justice system is rooted in slavery and the genocide of the indigenous? If she truly was a “progressive prosecutor or a good prosecutor,” she would make sure that prosecutors do not exist. There were no good slave owners, or slave auctioneers, just as there are no good prosecutors.

Kamala Harris is what the Black radical tradition calls a neo-colonialist. Neo-colonialism is the integration of a colonized person into the colonized system in order to enact the policies of the colonizer. That being said, Kamala is a Black face doing the job of a white supremacist system. Neo-colonialism is white supremacist colonial propaganda, and it is meant to fool the masses of oppressed people that becoming the oppressor leads to freedom. Don’t be fooled by symbolism. As Obama’s presidency showed us, symbolism does not mean progress for the masses of Black people.

It is clear that Kamala Harris is not for the people. She is for the American empire. Don’t let her identity as a Black woman, or her identity as an AKA, or her status as an alumna from Howard University fool you into thinking she is actually for us: Kamala don’t give a fuck about you niggas.


Blake is the co-host of Hella Black Podcast. He also is the co founder of People’s Breakfast Oakland. You can also follow him on Twitter @BlakeDontCrack.