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Am I Black Enough? By Mark Lampkin

The Democratic and Republican Conventions are behind us, and the run towards election day on November 3 is going to be historic for a number of reasons. The 45th president of the United States has been a national embarrassment and an international disgrace. To say that we need to replace him would be an understatement. For the past few months, it has been apparent that former Vice-President Joe Biden would be the Democratic nominee to unseat Donald Trump. What held the nation captive over the months since…was whom Biden would choose as his Vice President.

For those of us who are old enough to remember the tumult this nation faced during 1968; the assassinations of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and Presidential candidate Robert Kennedy, the brutality forced upon protestors at the Democratic Convention in Chicago, and finally, the raised fists of Tommie Smith and John Carlos on the victory stand at the Mexico Olympics, we know the importance of making a fundamental change in America is never an easy process.

The year 2020, with three months remaining, has been catastrophic. We have seen more than 180,000 Americans die from the COVID-19 virus, the bottoming out of our economy because of the ineptness of the Trump administration, and the global uprising against police brutality and white racism after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. So, whomever Joe Biden selected as his running mate would be either a much-needed distraction from the daily chaos we are witnessing or a sad reminder of how narrow this nation is about what people who hold power look like.

The announcement on August 11 that California Senator Kamala Harris would be the Democratic Party’s Vice Presidential choice sent shock waves throughout America. Many applauded his selection of a woman to be monumental.

There are plenty of people throwing mud at Ms. Harris. Her rise through the ranks has been nothing short of meteoric. She went from being District Attorney in San Francisco in 2003 to election as California’s Attorney General in 2010 and 2014. She won the vacated Senate seat for California in 2016…a rather swift ascension to the lofty heights where she is currently positioned to be the first Black woman Vice President of the United States.

We expect the Republican party leaders and followers to undermine the character of Senator Harris because that is the acceptable method we have come to understand in American politics. For the first week, their attacks have been negligible. What has hurt me in a way that I had no way to prepare is the barrage of abuse heaped upon her by more than a few African Americans. My naivete’ has been exposed once more.

Now, if one seeks to question her aggressive tactics as DA or AG in California, that is a reasonable argument to undertake. Yes, she put some people behind bars who might have been innocent…but name one DA who hasn’t. I am not defending her, just saying that it happens across this nation; because we have yet to address the systematic racism and classism that exists in our judicial system. She was just wearing the shoes…she did not make them.

What has hurt me is the disparaging of her ethnicity by people who have been minimized for over 400 years in this nation. Is she really Black? Her mother is Indian. Her father of Jamaican birth…and Kamala was born in Oakland, California. So, no birther issues here, right? Well, the only difference between being an African-American and a Jamaican is the port where the Africans were taken off the ship.

These issues are painful and personal for me, a man who was born to a White mother and Black father. I heard the same slurs at various times growing up in Peoria, before the awakening of Black Power in the mid-1960s. To be ridiculed about something for which I, nor Kamala, had any control over – the color of our skin – shows how deeply embedded racism is in ALL of the psyches of America. Yes, even those who have been called colored, negro, mulatto, and N_ _ _ _ _. We should know – and DO – better.

What has always been the onus of the Black community is the inclusion of anyone. We know our skin tones encompass a wide spectrum…from midnight blue to light, bright and darn near white. One thing we all had in common is that systemic racism negatively impacted us all. In this year, where our very existence may be at stake, I hope that our common interests will guide us, not whether or not someone has multi-ethnic origins.

I pray that we can come together in this year that will NEVER be forgotten. I pray that we can unite and VOTE in numbers unprecedented in American history, knowing the importance of sending Trump, his ignorant children, and the enablers who have turned a blind eye to his destruction of our Nation on a long vacation. And if the prosecutors in the state of New York can put Trump on trial for his financial crimes once he is out of office, we may then begin to heal the land. The consequences of us NOT showing up to vote for local, county, state, and national change will be detrimental for generations to come. So, VOTE!

And yes, Kamala is Black ENOUGH!