Vice President Kamala Harris: Take Your 'No' And Shove It!
Kamala Harris is now the vice president of the United States. It's a great day, especially when you consider the fly trap she replaced: Mike Pence, who Democrats spent two years trying to make president (weird, right?), wouldn't even dine alone with a woman, lest Jezebel tempt him from mother's embrace. While some conservatives claimed the “Pence Rule" was the only way a powerful man could avoid sexual harassment charges from vengeful hussies, then-Senator Harris slammed this sexist bullshit.
I disagree with [Pence] when he suggests it's not possible to have meetings with women alone by himself. I think that's ridiculous ― the idea that you would deny a professional woman the opportunity to have a meeting with the vice president of the United States is outrageous.
Harris has famously stated that she “eats 'no' for breakfast," and the dumb “Pence Rule" demonstrates how her words weren't just a catchy slogan for a coffee mug. (Though I'm sure you can buy one somewhere, Wonkette's offering for now remains "I'm Speaking.") It's a governing philosophy in a world where male insecurity erects barriers for women at all levels.
The best mentors are those who've successfully walked the uncertain path in front of you. They won't tell you it's easy, because they aren't as invested in believing it's easy, that anyone could pull it off if they just tried.
During an interview with Jane Pauley on CBS “Sunday Morning," Harris
described confronting a world filled with “no."
I was raised to not hear “no," let me be clear about it. So, it wasn't like, "Oh, the possibilities are immense. Whatever you want to do, you can do." No! I was raised to understand many people will tell you, "It is impossible," but don't listen.
This isn't a unique experience for Harris. Michelle Obama faced a torrent of “nos." A college counselor told her, with a "perfunctory, patronizing smile," that she wasn't sure a young Michelle Robinson was "Princeton material." She applied anyway and was accepted because she's Michelle Goddamn Obama.
Harris tells the people she mentors to expect to hear “no." That's their reality, but it's not their destiny.
There will be people who will say, "It's not your turn, it's not your time. No one like you has done it." And I'll tell them, " And don't you listen."
And then I will go on to tell them, “I eat no for breakfast!"
“You must start the marriages immediately.” A moment I will never forget, the day love won in California.… https://t.co/Mgv4BWX9eF— Kamala Harris (@Kamala Harris) 1592161141.0
Pence was an
anti-gay bigot, whose wife, Karen, teaches at a "no queers allowed" school. When California voters finally overturned Prop. 8, which said "no" to marriage equality, California Attorney General Harris declared, "You must start the marriages immediately." This is definitely a trade up.
The late, unlamented administration stamped its feet and said “no" to Joe Biden and Harris's clear and decisive victory in the 2020 election. She knocked back those antidemocratic “nos" with some cold milk. Even after the assault on the Capitol and concerns about Biden's and her own safety at the inauguration, she refused to let MAGA-hat wearing domestic terrorists temper her enthusiasm.
CBS News' Jane Pauley asked Harris, "Are you excited about January 20th?"
"I'm not gonna let anyone take my excitement from me," she laughed.
And on January 20, Kamala Devi Harris took the oath of office as the 49th vice president. She was sworn in by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who ignored her own set of “nos" on the way to the Supreme Court.
This was a tremendous moment. Yes, history was made, but as Harris said during her November 7 victory speech, she "may be the first woman in the office, but she won't be the last." Madame Vice President has her eyes set on the future, one that's more equitable for us all, and she'll continue dining on any “nos" that get in her way.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. Once, he wrote a novel called “Mahogany Slade,” which you should read or at least buy. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."