The VP Debate Is Tonight––Here Are My Pre-Game Thoughts

by Nikkya Hargrove
Scary Mommy and Drew Angerer/Ethan Miller/Getty

Perhaps you’ve heard it too, when a Black woman is deemed as “the angry Black woman” simply for using her voice regardless of whether it is fact or opinion. I know I have. Senator Kamala Harris possesses the kind of courage and humility that I admire as a Black woman, but also as a mom raising children who are half Black and half Sri Lankan, both a son and a daughter.

I am raising my daughters to, like Senator Harris, use their voices even if they are scared, even if they feel they will be knocked down. Because what Senator Harris is teaching my daughters, through her courage and humility, is that even when we’re knocked down (when she decided to drop out of the 2020 presidential race), we can get back up, look at the opportunity in front of us (an invitation to be the running mate of the Democratic presidential nominee) and dust ourselves off to push forward in a new direction.

When it’s “game time,” I will prepare my homemade buttery popcorn, put my five-year-old daughters to bed early, and get myself emotionally and mentally ready to pay witness to the debate between Senator Harris and Vice President Pence.

I know it will not be like the train wreck debate between President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Vice President Pence is a hard pill to swallow — and I have real fears for our America if he were to take seat as president for any reason. But I do think that he will be more civil than his boss, and less of a bully. I imagine we will get from Senator Harris much of what we’ve already seen, a calm and collected but straightforward, tell-it-like-it-is approach to defending the America she loves and has worked to make better since 2003.

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In all honesty, I don’t believe any politician is 100% truthful, and most say what they think people want to hear to get their vote. However, there are exceptions, like Democratic Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar — and Senator Kamala Harris. When they open their mouths, why do I believe what comes out? Because they are women of color, women who have always been painfully honest, so much so that they’ve been called names I will not repeat here.

Remember Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s speech on the floor of Congress? The one where she reminded us that what we as women face — the name calling, the belittling, the hate — is not new? What struck me most in her speech is the moment towards the end, when she said: “[W]hat I believe is that having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man. And when a decent man messes up — as we all are bound to do — he tries his best and does apologize. Not to save face, not to win a vote — he apologizes genuinely to repair and acknowledge the harm done so that we can all move on.”

To treat people with dignity and respect is not hard, and if you cannot do that, what kind of person are you? Who do you want to be? Which of these two tickets, which of these candidates, share the same values as you?

So here we are, watching and waiting for the next debates, rallying behind the ticket of our choice, grateful for the ability and right to go out and vote this November. When we go to the polls, it will feel different — it will be different. And the lessons we want to teach our kids, our daughters — my daughters especially as Black/South Asian little girls — are carried in the person I believe Senator Kamala Harris to be. They are the same principles I am teaching my son and my daughters: to be someone who values the dignity of all, who appreciates humanity for what it is, and who follows the law with one goal in mind — to do the right thing.

In a recent interview with CNN, Kamala Harris stated, “The American people are voting … There is a lot at stake, in terms of the integrity of our democracy, of our election system and this process that should take place over the next 35 days.”

Saying we have a lot at stake is an understatement. When you wake up on November 4th, will you be able to look your children in the face and tell them you voted for their safety, the America they will inherit, and for the dignity of our America? What story will you tell your kids … and which leaders do you want to write the next chapter?