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Kamala Harris: What does Kamala Harris believe in?


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Reverend Dwight Andrews of the First Congregational Church in Atlanta, Georgia, is expecting a key speaker on the first Sunday in October 2017. It's a big day as Andrews ’Church, one of the oldest African American congregational churches in the United States, is celebrating its 150th birthday. It will be a big festival service, the church is full. The speaker comes from politics, but to the Reverend Andrews, as he later remembers, she won't look like a politician at all. At the time, she had been a member of the US Senate for almost ten months - as the first woman of Indian descent and the second African American in history. Her name is Kamala Harris.

The video of the Atlanta service is online: The choir sings a gospel, "I love to praise him", Harris - dark blue costume, pearl necklace, white lapel flowers - claps while seated, then hugs the Reverend Andrews, goes to the lectern and claps further. What follows is neither a nice greeting nor a contemplative sermon. In retrospect, it could be seen as an application speech for the White House. "Forming coalitions to fight for justice," she says, pointing a finger, "it's about patriotism."

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In this speech she uses the word "truth" 18 times, it is a term that seems to mean more to her than "belief". One truth: "Racism is real in this country. Sexism is real in this country." Another: "Although there are forces of hatred and division in our country today trying to tear us apart, Americans have so much more in common than what divides us." One could say: Kamala Harris does not believe in what is given by God, she believes in possibilities. To goals that she wants to achieve.

"She just shared her thoughts with us," says Reverend Andrews of the meeting at his church almost three years ago. "Her speech was very impressive, because she is someone who does not carry his faith in front of her. But then she spoke of how her belief supports and motivates her." Harris has wowed many parishioners with her very own righteous creed. And many remembered when Harris, who was just in the running for the Democratic presidential nomination, came up for the vice-presidential nomination as Joe Biden's deputy. "We prayed it would be," says Andrews. It became her.

On a Wednesday in August 2020, Biden and Harris step into the glare of the television cameras. He is white-haired, she is brunette, both wearing suits in dark blue and identical mouth and nose masks in black. If they weren't in a flagged high school gym in Wilmington, Delaware, they might be mistaken for a pilot and co-pilot on the way to work. In a way, they are: Joe Biden wants to redeem America from Donald Trump and become the next President of the United States. And he has chosen Kamala Harris to take the trip with him - as his "running mate", as the candidacy for the US Vice Presidency is called.

Kamala Harris, 55, former California attorney general, is more than just a co-pilot of a Joe Biden, as demonstrated when they first appeared together. Biden speaks erratically and seems relieved that he is no longer alone in the spotlight, he closes with a wiped out "Kamala, the stage is yours", then he leaves the desk as if he has already done his duty. Harris gives a sharp speech about a country on the edge of the abyss, her breathing space is perfectly measured, and at the end she looks into the camera as firmly as if a crowd had already gathered in front of her for the inauguration: "Thank you very much and God save the United States from America."

These words from her mouth seem bigger than the usual mantra of patriotism in the United States. They are the climax of what had already been hinted at in Atlanta in October 2017 and which came up again and again in the following years during many other church visits as part of her later withdrawn candidacy: political revelation, election campaign attack and creed all rolled into one. In no moment is it as clear as this: Kamala Harris can be America's future, and she knows it too.

It has long been America's present. Born in 1964 as the daughter of immigrants, the father a Christian from Jamaica, the mother a Hindu from India, grew up in Oakland, California, she can do little with probing questions about her cultural self-image. "I am who I am", she once said almost harshly, and that was quite simply "a proud American". In her autobiography, she describes how her mother, who later became a successful cancer researcher - her parents divorced when Harris was seven - was anxious to raise her and her sister to be "proud black women," while also giving them Indian dishes cooked and took them with me on trips to their home country.