Mon | Mar 18, 2019

Harris won’t be ‘president for black people’, warns Clare

Published:Tuesday | January 22, 2019 | 12:22 AM

Noted Jamaican immigration-rights advocate Irwine Clare has warned against high expectations of preferential treatment towards blacks or any other minority group should Kamala Harris be elected president of the United States (US).

Harris, a first-term senator and former California attorney general known for her probing questioning of President Donald Trump’s nominees, entered the Democratic presidential race yesterday.

In an interview with The Gleaner yesterday, Clare made reference to a similar view that was held in some quarters when Barack Obama became the first black president of the US in 2008. He stressed, however, that the responsibility of any president is to cater to the needs of all Americans.

“She’s not running to be the president for black people, she is running to be the president of the United States of America, of which the African community and people of colour are a part,” said Clare, who is also managing director of Caribbean Immigrant Services.

“I’m sure one would say there is an expectation of sympathy and more interest towards a particular ethnicity, but that is not the role of the president. The role of the president is to administer the laws of the land to its nationals across the board. I can’t say the current presidency is abiding by those rules and regulations. The current presidency is an unusual situation, but Kamala Harris is not in the race to run for black people or people of colour,” he told The Gleaner.

Sentimental triumph

The advocate indicated, however, that it is a day of sentimental triumph for people of colour. He said, too, that over the years, Harris has proven to be a very worthy candidate.

“We see what she has done in the Senate recently. She is coming to the table with a platform and a track record having some dirt under her nails. She has developed the skill set over the years and has proven to be a winner when you look at where she is coming from. We greet this [announcement] with great applause,” he said.

“I’m sure that Kamala knows that she has a tall order to follow, but at the same token, win, lose or draw, it will bring another perspective to the table that normally would not be there, along with the levels of participation, involvement and support that she would have garnered. Let’s not forget that she has been active, too. So she is a rock star,” he declared.

Harris, who grew up in Oakland, California, and is a daughter of parents from Jamaica and India, is one of the earliest high-profile Democrats to join what is expected to be a crowded field.