In his `Guyanese gone out’ column (Aug 23), Dave Martins penned vacuous praise to Donald Harris, father of Kamala Harris, the Democrat Vice Presidential candidate. Martins penned that Donald Harris, a Black Jamaican, played a significant role in Kamala’s life. That is not factual. In virtually none of her public speeches, did she mention her father’s name.
In the acceptance speech after her nomination at the Democratic convention, she only mentioned her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a Madrassi or Tamil, as was the case in previous speeches. She kept praising her Indian mother who raised her and her sister Maya as a single mother. Kamala and Maya are half Madrassi as we say in Guyana.
As Kamala stated, Donald Harris walked away from the family to build a career in teaching Marxist Economics. Contrary to what Martin penned, Donald did not build a family life and to give him credit for it is a disservice to Kamala, her mother and her sister and a grave injustice to the productive role of women who had to start from scratch raising a family all by themselves without any man’s support.
As Kamala said, Donald Harris walked away from the family when she was five and her sister Maya, 3. Their Indian mother, Shyamala raised them as a single mother. She took them to church, choir sessions, tutorials, and back forth to school. She sent them to school. The kids moved with her to Montreal where she landed a job as a Biologist and a few other cities before returning to California. Shyamala was a very educated, accomplished woman, a Biologist, a cancer specialist, a scholar in her own right. Shyamala finished her BS at age 19 in Madras (Chennai) and got admitted for the Masters Degree in Endocrinology right away. She obtained a scholarship for her singing talent of Tamil and Hindi songs to pursue the BS degree. She met Donald on campus while pursuing post graduate studies and she was active in the civil rights movement, a romance started and they got married. She played the role of a woman. She did not abandon her two children as Donald did.
Kamala talked about her mother being the subject of racial discrimination and of her being ridiculed for her Indian accent and denied a job even though she was more qualified than those hired. Shyamala come from an educated and accomplished family. Her grandfather in India was a government civil servant, and Kamala stated it was he who inspired Kamala and Maya to pursue education and for Kamala to get into politics. She showered accolades on her grandparents from India and the impact they had on Shyamala, Maya and her own life. She spent considerable time with grandparents from India.