By Claudette de la Haye
DETROIT, MI – As keynote speaker at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) 64th Annual Fight For Freedom Fund Dinner held in Detroit, Michigan on May 5, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-Cali.), the first black woman of both West Indian and East Indian descent to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, said, “We must push for change not only from the outside but also from the inside and at the table where the decisions are being made.” She also stated that it’s time to “speak truth” in America, calling for a “new kind of leadership” punctuated by applause of some 10,000 attendees, went on to honor the late Civil Rights leader Judge Damon Keith, saying, “His rulings advanced the cause of equality and his legacy will have a lasting impact on generations to come.”
Sen. Harris also expressed confidence in her run for the democratic nomination and ultimately the presidency. The Caribbean diaspora registered to vote in the United States must examine just how realistic are her chances and whether her views are in alignment with their concerns.
Given that she is the first black woman of Caribbean and East Indian descent to run for the presidency, there are those who assign mere symbolism to her participation in the race. Some have even questioned whether her background is even significant to her candidacy, especially if she does not take particular interest in supporting issues that affect the Caribbean immigrant population. Regarding the Caribbean-Latin American region, concerned West Indians, Cubans, Haitians and Latin Americans — perhaps most urgently, Venezuelans — both in the U.S. and at home want to know Sen. Harris’ position on immigration and issues as they relate to the region.
With the volatile situation in Venezuela, for instance, the Trump administration is looking at various options, with many concerned about possible U.S. military intervention. Caribbeans and Latin Americans, in particular, are concerned about what level of engagement Sen. Harris would propose regarding Venezuela in pursuing and executing the same foreign policy.
U.S. Caribbean territories Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands suffered billions of dollars in damage from the 2017 Hurricanes’ Irma and Maria, which have been regarded as being the worst natural disasters to hit the region. Yet, responses of the current administration to the devastation caused by these hurricanes, particularly in the case of Puerto Rico, where Maria significantly damaged the island’s infrastructure and caused thousands to flee to the mainland, has been regarded as inadequate and dismissive. Given President Trump’s weighted comments about the island’s leaders and people, many want to know if Sen. Harris would work to ensure that Puerto Rico gets the attention, respect, and rebuilding it deserves.
Also awaiting Sen. Harris’ approach is how the U.S. intends to continue engaging with Haiti, which is still reeling from one of the worst health and humanitarian crisis of our times, which was caused in large part by the 2010 earthquake that killed and displaced many thousands of Haitians. In speaking about immigrants, he considered desirable versus those he thought of as undesirable, Trump reportedly characterized a number of countries, including Haiti, as “shit holes”, implying that Haitians are undesirable immigrants. Given the unfair treatment to which Haitians have been subjected to in this country, many in the region are hoping Sen. Harris would pursue appropriate, magnanimous and fair-minded policies to assist Haiti in overcoming the multitude of problems it now faces.
Moreover, in addressing the long-standing isolation of the U.S.’ closest southern neighbor, President Obama opened up. Cuba in order to improve American relations with that nation, but the Trump administration seeks to undo the gains that have been made. Sen. Harris’ position on what should be the future of U.S.-Cuba relations is of utmost importance to many in the Caribbean and Latin American region.
In seeking her party’s nomination for president, Sen. Harris is following in the footsteps of the late Shirley Chisholm who, in 1972, became the first black woman to run for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination. In fact, Sen. Harris announced her candidacy on the 47th anniversary of Chisholm’s bid for the nomination and has adopted a similar red-and-yellow color scheme for her campaign logo, in recognition of Chisholm, who was of Afro-Caribbean descent. As her campaign progresses, Sen. Harris’ response to the above issues could prove to be determining factors in winning voters in the Caribbean and Latin American communities in the United States.
Claudette de la Haye, Owner of Caribbean Financial Network News & Productions, is the first female Jamaican journalist in Detroit since Marcus Garvey. During a bout of three years homeless she has created a Caribbean media alliance; in print, online and in broadcasting. Formerly, educated in Nottingham, U.K., celebrates her love of journalism, music, travel, food and art but, to her there is no place like home in Detroit. The Oklahoma Eagle welcomes Claudette de la Haye to their family.
#NAACPDetroit #mediawomanrising #64FFFD