Harris will have to defend her record on criminal justice just as other candidates have to defend their own votes and positions. And black women know that for a black female presidential candidate, the stakes will be far higher than for her white male peers. Criticism of her character and policies is bound to be influenced by a lethal combination of racism, sexism, and cultural ignorance.
…Still the more I dug into Kamala Harris’ background, the worse I started to feel. I wondered whether I was being too hard on her or even holding her to a higher standard than I would a white male Democrat. Former Vice President Joe Biden admitted that he hasn’t been “always right” on issues of criminal justice. No candidate is perfect, and the idea that I might not support a black woman who is qualified for the job is excruciating. My life’s work is centered on black women and their stories, no matter how complicated those narratives might be. Was my hesitation premature and unfair? But the alternative is almost as painful—giving someone who looks like me a pass on actions that have hurt our communities. I want a black female president. But I want an end to mass incarceration for all black women, for all black families, even more. Who can deliver that? Could it be Harris? Maybe, but I need her to make that case.