Officially selected Tuesday as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris has already entered the crucible as progressives and conservatives fight for control over the narrative surrounding the candidate.
Unbeknownst to many, Harris is the descendant of prominent Jamaican slave owners, according to her father.
The news had first broken on Jan. 13, 2019, when Jamaica Global published a lengthy ancestry article written in September 2018 by Harris’ father, the prominent economist and Stanford University professor Donald Harris.
Born in British Jamaica himself before coming to the United States in 1963, the professor had contributed his 3,000-word article to the site, which highlights the “Jamaican diaspora” and its descendants worldwide, in an effort to reflect “on the ‘Jamaicanness’ of his daughter Kamala.”
According to the professor’s own account, he, his paternal grandmother and, by extension, his daughter were all descended from Jamaican plantation owner and Brown’s Town founder Hamilton Brown.
“My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town),” Harris wrote.
“The Harris name comes from my paternal grandfather Joseph Alexander Harris, land-owner and agricultural ‘produce’ exporter (mostly pimento or all-spice), who died in 1936 two years before I was born and is buried in the church yard of the magnificent Anglican Church which Hamilton Brown built in Brown’s Town (and where, as a child, I learned the catechism, was baptized and confirmed, and served as an acolyte).”
According to Snopes, no explicit evidence of the genealogical connection has ever been provided by the professor.
However, according to sources cited by Lead News, roughly one-third of African-Americans have a white ancestor from before slavery was abolished in the U.S., generally the result of rape (or, at the very least, sexual intercourse in highly power-disparate relationships).
A Jamaican records archive unearthed in July 2019 by the Washington Free Beacon, however, did reveal that in 1817, Hamilton Brown owned a substantial number of slaves, some of whom were African while others were Creole.
This was all it took for some prominent conservative commentators and political operatives to revive the story, claiming that her ancestry would make Harris a compulsory donor to, rather than a recipient of, the American left’s long-supported slavery reparations plan.
Harris is far from the only American political figure to face scandal regarding slave-holding ancestry.
Several prominent statesmen have been canceled or seen their character assassinated as a result of such genealogical ties.
Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell faced similar controversy last July, when NBC News unearthed evidence of his slave-holding ancestry from the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Censuses.
This proximity to slavery was used to corner McConnell over his opposition to race-based financial reparations. At the time of this report, left-wing politicians, commentators and establishment media figures were largely mum on the topic of Harris’ ancestry, however.
The Western Journal reached out to both the Biden campaign and the Democratic National Committee for comment but did not receive a response.
CORRECTION, Aug. 21, 2020: The Western Journal has removed references to Sen. Harris’ ancestry as an “unexpected hurdle” to the Biden-Harris candidacy, as the information contained in this article has been public since January, 2019, and therefore cannot reasonably be considered “unexpected.” We have altered the title of the article to remove a similar implication, and removed two tweets from conservative commentators that cited Harris’ lineage as similarly problematic. Finally, we added information regarding the prevalence of white ancestry among black Americans to provide important context.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.