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27 Dec, 2020 10:42

‘Did she also celebrate Tupac’s birthday?’ Incredulous internet sleuths take aim at Kamala Harris’ ‘childhood memories’ of Kwanzaa

‘Did she also celebrate Tupac’s birthday?’ Incredulous internet sleuths take aim at Kamala Harris’ ‘childhood memories’ of Kwanzaa

Social media users have accused US vice president-elect Kamala Harris of bending the truth after she claimed to have fond memories of celebrating Kwanzaa with her family.

Harris released a video message on Saturday in which she wished her supporters a happy Kwanzaa, and said that her own family would be observing the holiday over Zoom.

“Our Kwanzaa celebrations are one of my favorite childhood memories. The whole family would gather around across multiple generations and we’d tell stories and light the candles,” she reminisced, as a traditional seven-branched Kwanzaa candle holder was displayed on a table behind her. 

First celebrated in 1966, Kwanzaa is a pan-African holiday that lasts from December 26 to January 1. Its creator, African Studies professor Maulana Karenga, said the holiday was a way for people of African heritage to “celebrate themselves and their history.” A central figure in the Black Power movement in the US, Karenga himself was sentenced to ten years in prison in 1971, after being found guilty of assaulting and torturing two women. 

The vice president-elect, who has mixed Indian-Jamaican ancestry, spent her childhood in California and Montreal, Canada. Social media users immediately pounced on the video message, noting that Harris was born in 1964 in Oakland, California, raising questions about why “multiple generations” of her family would take part in a holiday that hadn’t yet been invented at the time of her birth. 

“What generations of your family were celebrat[ing] Kwanzaa when you grew up?” asked one suspicious Twitter user. 

Conservative pundits compared Harris’ comments to a Saturday Night Live sketch, and even left-wing commenters such as Margaret Kimberley, editor of the Black Agenda Report, accused the politician of lying about her family traditions. 

Others shared photographs showing Kamala’s “real” childhood. One picture is of her family in traditional Indian costume, while another photograph documents a family Christmas from 1968.

Given Harris’ background, there was also speculation about why any member of her family would even be interested in Kwanzaa. Her father emigrated to the United States from Jamaica. Although some argued that Kwanzaa is not widely celebrated in Jamaica, the holiday can be observed by all members of the African diaspora. But many still expressed their doubts. 

“Other holidays that Kamala Harris celebrated with her Tamil Brahmin grandmother in Montreal in the 1970s: Juneteenth, Ramadan, World AIDS Day, The Feast of St. George of Floyd, Tupac Shakur's Birthday,” joked conservative journalist Steve Sailer. 

Harris has struggled in the past when trying to connect with African Americans. In a gaffe from September, the California politician declared Tupac to be “the best rapper alive.” The artist had been killed in a drive-by shooting in 1996.

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