+
upworthy
Democracy

Kamala Harris's slave owner ancestry isn't a 'gotcha,' but a tragic historic reality

Kamala Harris's slave owner ancestry isn't a 'gotcha,' but a tragic historic reality
Lauren-Ashley Howard/Twitter, Wikimedia Commons

The lengths people will go to discredit a political figure—especially a Black female politician—is pretty astounding. Since Kamala Harris was announced as Joe Biden's running mate, we've seen "birther" claims that she wasn't really born in the U.S. (she was), alternating claims that she's too moderate or too radical (which can't both be true), and a claim apparently designed to be a "gotcha"—that her ancestor in Jamaica was a slave owner.

According to Politifact, the claim that Harris descends from a slave owners is likely true. In their rather lengthy fact check on her lineage, which has not revealed any definitive answers, they conclude, "It seems possible that Kamala Harris is as likely a descendant of a slave-owner as she is an enslaved person." But that doesn't mean what the folks who are using that potential descencency as a weapon seem to think it means.


It's a well-known historical fact that many people with Black ancestry in the Americas have lineage that extends directly to white slave owners. It wasn't uncommon for enslavers to rape the people they enslaved—a tragic but true reality that may very well have been the case in Harris's family tree.

Writer Lauren-Ashley Howard expounded on this fact on Twitter, writing, "I have news for you about the descendants of enslaved Africans—damn near ALL of us have a Hamilton Brown in our family tree. Because enslaved women were regularly raped by the white men who owned them. You tried it, though."

According to a deep dive into the topic of American bloodlines in Pacific Standard magazine, many Black Americans have European ancestry stemming from the century of sexual exploitation of enslaved Africans before the Civil War. Slavery in the Caribbean, where Harris's Jamaican ancestors come from, has a similar history.

As a Black person, being descended from a slave owner is not proof of some kind of historical hypocrisy, but rather a not uncommon result of a historical tragedy. Enslaving someone is a heinous enough affront to their humanity. Raping them while enslaving them is the stuff of nightmares and horror movies. That's a lineage fraught with uncomfortable questions and painful stories—not something to be used to attack a Black candidate for office.

Racism isn't just hating people with a different skin color. It's also being willfully ignorant of racial history and using a person's skin color to spin a narrative that paints them in a negative light. Trying to make Harris look bad by pointing out her enslaver ancestry—as if a Black person with such ancestry is somehow hypocritical—betrays a woeful lack of historical understanding and a gross desire to use her race as a weapon.

There may be legitimate criticisms one could make about Harris, but this isn't one of them.


We all know that Americans pay more for healthcare than every other country in the world. But how much more?

According an American expatriate who shared the story of his ER visit in a Taiwanese hospital, Americans are being taken to the cleaners when we go to the doctor. We live in a country that claims to be the greatest in the world, but where an emergency trip to the hospital can easily bankrupt someone.

Kevin Bozeat had that fact in mind when he fell ill while living in Taiwan and needed to go to the hospital. He didn't have insurance and he had no idea how much it was going to cost him. He shared the experience in a now-viral Facebook post he called "The Horrors of Socialized Medicine: A first hand experience."

Keep ReadingShow less

Turns out we've been threading needles all wrong

If you've ever taken a sewing class then you've probably had the pleasure of some older woman telling you to stick the loose end of the thread in your mouth as an easy way to thread it through the eye of a needle. Even with the soggy thread mending together the fibers at the end, you hands still shake and your eyes go crossed while you try to get it through the tiny hole.

But it turns out that there's a much easier way to thread a needle and it doesn't involve licking it. In fact there's more than one way to thread a needle that will save you a headache from trying to see where the thread is going. There's one particular technique that has people thinking there may be witchcraft involved, but it's just science.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pop Culture

Two brothers Irish stepdancing to Beyoncé's country hit 'Texas Hold 'Em' is pure delight

The Gardiner Brothers and Queen Bey proving that music can unite us all.

Gardiner Brothers/TikTok (with permission)

The Gardiner Brothers stepping in time to Beyoncé's "Texas Hold 'Em."

In early February 2024, Beyoncé rocked the music world by releasing a surprise new album of country tunes. The album, Renaissance: Act II, includes a song called "Texas Hold 'Em," which shot up the country charts—with a few bumps along the way—and landed Queen Bey at the No.1 spot.

As the first Black female artist to have a song hit No. 1 on Billboard's country music charts, Beyoncé once again proved her popularity, versatility and ability to break barriers without missing a beat. In one fell swoop, she got people who had zero interest in country music to give it a second look, forced country music fans to broaden their own ideas about what country music looks like and prompted conversations about bending and blending musical genres and styles.

And she inspired the Gardiner Brothers to add yet another element to the mix—Irish stepdance.

Keep ReadingShow less
Pets

What it’s like to adopt a dog, as told through a 14-part comic

Moscow-based comic artist Bird Born explains why adopting a dog changed his life.


Rescuing a pet is an amazing and heroic undertaking.

7.6 million pets go into shelters each year, according to the ASPCA. And of those pets, about 2.7 million pets are rescued by humans who give them forever homes.

Moscow-based comic artist Bird Born experienced firsthand the power of welcoming a pet into your family when he adopted a dog.

Keep ReadingShow less
Health

5 things I didn't want to hear when I was grieving and 1 thing that helped

Here are my top five things not to say to a grieving parent — and the thing I love to hear instead.


In 2013, I found out I was pregnant with triplets.

Image via iStock.

My husband and I were in shock but thrilled at the news after dealing with infertility for years. And it didn't take long for the comments to begin. When people found out, the usual remarks followed: "Triplets?! What are you going to do? Three kids at once?! Glad it's not me!"

After mastering my response (and an evil look reserved for the rudest comments), I figured that was the worst of it. But little did I know I would be facing far worse comments after two of my triplets passed away.

On June 23, 2013, I gave birth to my triplets, more than four months premature.

My daughter, Abigail, passed away that same day; my son, Parker, died just shy of 2 months old. Before then, I didn't know much about child loss; it was uncharted territory. Like most people, I wouldn't know how to respond or what to say if a friend's child passed away.

Image via iStock.

But two years later, I have found that some things are better left unsaid. These comments come from a good place, and I know people mean well, but they sure do sting.

Here are my top five things not to say to a grieving parent — and the thing I love to hear instead.

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

A husband took these photos of his wife and captured love and loss beautifully.

I feel as if I were right there with them as I looked through the photos.

Snuggles.

When I saw these incredible photos Angelo Merendino took of his wife, Jennifer, as she battled breast cancer, I felt that I shouldn't be seeing this snapshot of their intimate, private lives.

The photos humanize the face of cancer and capture the difficulty, fear, and pain that they experienced during the difficult time.

Keep ReadingShow less