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.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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