Democratic presidential hopeful Kamala Harris said Monday that questions about whether she is “black enough” to represent the black community are offensive.
“It is challenging ... and to be honest with you, it is also hurtful,” the California senator told Jemele Hill on an episode of her podcast “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered.”
Harris has endured the racist attacks from conservative figures like Donald Trump Jr. who say she can’t truly represent African Americans because her father was born in Jamaica. Harris, who was born in Oakland, California, is an American of both Jamaican and Indian descent.
“It just feels like your blackness is always being put on trial,” Hill said.
“I have said to my team, I’m like, ’Look, I am not running for black history professor. I am running for president of the United States,” Harris responded. “These people need to know black history. And it cannot be, as it always ends up being, that the couple of chocolate chips on the stage have to be the ones teaching everybody else about America’s history. It’s America’s history.”
Former president Barack Obama experienced similar attacks when Donald Trump and others questioned where Obama, the first black president, was born. The so-called “birther” conspiracy was developed in the late 2000s to cast doubt his legitimacy as president.
Harris told Hill that she’s figuring out where to focus her energy during the presidential race, but that answering questions about her ethnicity is not something she needs to do.
“For other people who can’t figure out am I ‘black enough,’ I kinda feel like that’s their problem, not mine,” she said. “Maybe they need to go back to school to figure it out. And maybe they need to learn about the African diaspora and maybe they need to learn about a number of other things.”
This isn’t the first time Harris has been forced to respond to attacks on her blackness. Earlier this year, she addressed critics who pointed to her record as a prosecutor ― which contributed to high rates of incarceration in California ― as a reason why she wasn’t “black enough” to represent black Americans.
“Look, this is the same thing they did to Barack. This is not new to us,” Harris responded at the time. “They’re trying to ... sow hate and division among us. So we need to recognize when we’re being played.”
Listen to the full “Jemele Hill Is Unbothered” episode below.