“Only President Nixon could go to China” — In 1972 it was noted that with thawing U.S. and Russian relations the United States needed to welcome China into the world marketplace and open up Chinese markets to U.S. companies while simultaneously rebutting Russia’s same plans.
Fifty-one years later and a few things have changed. Now, only Vice President Kamala Devi Harris could go to Africa. Specifically, to Ghana, Tanzania, and Gambia where she was welcomed with aplomb, music, dancing, and of course meetings, dinners, events, and negotiations with all the appropriate heads of state, military leaders, and social activists.
Heads of state who were thrilled to meet and be with the globally popular and beloved vice president and who made certain to get all the photos they could with one of the most photographed people on the globe.
Even a few local wildlife stopped to listen to the Vice President.
And of course, there were children — because where VP Harris goes, there are always smiling, happy children whose eyes and smiles light up when Kamala kneels to their level and meets them eye to eye with warm touches, and soothing words. (Referring to her as Kamala to honor what the children know her as and how they greet her as they ignore the grown-up honorifics as children do.)
To see a globally loved iconic politician receive the welcome she deserves is a nice contrast to the homegrown ignorance and misogyny the vice president receives from U.S. mass media. And when she’s not receiving nonstop vitriol by U.S. media, she receives personal attacks from republicans, white supremacists, far too many Black men, and even by some democratic voters who say they support women, “just not that woman.”
Like any woman in politics but particularly for the first Black woman, the first Indian South Asian, the first with Jamaican heritage, and the first with a Jewish husband, and for good measure, the first born in Oakland, Ca., VP Harris attracts so many haters— more than even President Obama — that it can be exhausting for her supporters who work tirelessly to defend her while also promote how integral she is to the Biden administration’s string of successes.
Vice President Kamala Devi Harris is truly a child of the world — and the United States is better off because of it. And her accomplishments in Africa are another example of how she can and does benefit the world.
In Ghana, VP Harris talked international debt restructuring and relief, growing the $1.2B in trade between the two nations, and announcing multiple economic reforms that will help Ghana as their economy recovers from covid impacts while strengthening Ghanaian and US economic ties with the diaspora in the U.S.
Vice President Harris worked out $1B in initiatives that cover the environment, farming, digital infrastructure, improving business opportunities for established businesses and enterprises, and start-up funding for women. There are programs for expanded access to healthcare, job training, and multiple efforts that support gender equality. The VP worked with major corporations and institutions that include Microsoft, CARE, World Food Program, Farm to Market Alliance, and initiatives for Land Rights and Trade and Investments. There are Small Business Loans, and support for Women Farmers. Finally, there are initiatives for Energy, Health and Wellbeing for women, and programs to address gender violence in rural communities.
That the first woman vice president spent a significant part of her time on her three nation tour working with women, launching programs specific to the needs of women, and brought major U.S. and global companies and organizations with her –and their money! — shows that, again, VP Harris puts in the work to back what has always been important to her: Supporting women and girls, protecting women and girls, and modeling the behavior so that, as she frequently quotes her mother: “Even though she is the first, she won’t be the last.”
Kamala Harris is a transformational history-making global leader.
VP Harris efforts go deeper as well, since the U.S. under Trump conceded co-leadership on the African continent to China and Russia who have each courted African leaders with money and resources without colonial attitudes or paternalism so long a complaint about U.S. help and aid.
Generational racism, colonization mentalities, and unfettered capitalism from U.S. based companies too often only worked to steal, cheat, and destroy the environment while mucking up every opportunity to deal fairly with African nations that were not South Africa. As a result, China and Russia stepped in and began building infrastructure, communication networks, and manufacturing plants. The businesses have not come without issues, though, but the fact China and Russia have worked harder to build relations with many of the fifty-four African nations — nations that still supply much of the world’s minerals used in all parts of our lives — meant that the U.S. was rapidly falling behind in working with the continent that all of the western world sees as the most important landmass for the century.
What the VP offered wasn’t paternalism or bullying — methods the continent is all too familiar with from past U.S. administrations — but partnership, mutual respect, bilateral agreements, help without lectures, and assistance without condescension.
VP Harris is putting in the hours and doing the work. Detractors will never value her because they are unwilling to see her — and many Black and brown women — through the blinders they were that cloud the views of hard work, excellence, and accomplishment.
But just as Kamala kneels while letting children know she sees them, seventy-seven million voters saw her last election, more will see and vote for her in 2024, and billions of people of all races, ethnicities, and genders, see, admire, and appreciate America’s dynamic vice president.
There’s more here for when you inevitably see unserious folk online ask what the VP does or where has she been: