By Stacy M. Brown | NNPA
(NNPA) – During a December 2021 trip to Paris, Vice President Kamala Harris purchased a $375 cooking pot. America’s mainstream media didn’t approve.
The media lamented high inflation in the United States and said that her purchase came as American residents barely made ends meet.
“After a very significant and highly successful bilateral meeting in France on issues that are about national security, on issues that are about climate, on issues that are about what we are doing in terms of international norms and rules on everything from cyber to space. Come on,” Harris retorted.
Despite Harris’ impressive list of accomplishments as vice president and her stellar political track record, Dr. Bre Haizlip, a retired psychology professor, observed that the most devastating impact of unconscious racial bias in political media “is the ability to make one of the highest-ranking officials in our nation invisible.”
The media’s bias against the vice president has surfaced in many ways, including intermittent headlines and articles suggesting a split as to whether she should be on the re-election ticket with President Biden.
During an infamous March 2023 Zoom gathering of high-profile Democratic donors in Hollywood, suggestions abounded that Harris’ alleged lack of popularity would doom Biden.
Those in attendance included former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, actress Helen Hunt, and Ron Livingston.
The negative coverage of Harris included a 2021 Newsweek headline that blared, “How Left-Wing Media Turned on Kamala Harris.”
“CNN, Politico, and The Washington Post have all published articles over the past few weeks citing anonymous sources such as aides and Democratic officials who have described apparent chaos in Harris’ office,” the article declared.
“Harris has frequently been a target of criticism from conservatives, particularly for her role in dealing with immigration and the southern border, but it now appears that left-leaning news sources are painting a picture of a struggling vice president,” Newsweek continued.
But often ignored are Harris’s many accomplishments during her two-plus years as second in command.
Harris, a Howard University graduate, has been on the frontlines of the Biden administration’s record funding of historically Black colleges and universities.
She spent much of her first two years breaking an unprecedented 29 ties in an evenly divided Senate while ushering through administration appointees.
Harris proved vital in getting the American Rescue Plan through Congress, providing a $2 trillion stimulus relief bill that kept America’s businesses and residents afloat during the pandemic.
Harris also ensured maternal health for women before and after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
“Unconscious racial bias in political media may include an inadvertent assumption that Black politicians’ accomplishments are less newsworthy or the propensity for the media to focus on negative or controversial aspects of a Black politician’s career, rather than highlighting their successes,” Haizlip explained.
“In Harris’ case, the controversy and scandal meteor fall far below the media threshold.”
Haizlip also warned Black media outlets about unconscious internalized racism.
She said unconscious internalized racism in Black media refers to the unconscious internalization, adoption, and perpetuation of negative stereotypes and biases about Black people within the Black community and media.
“This can include the reinforcement of Eurocentric leadership standards, the portrayal of Black people in a negative light, or the erasure or marginalization of Black political voices and perspectives that do not conform to dominant narratives,” Haizlip stated.
“It’s important for all of us as media consumers to be more aware of the potential for unconscious bias and to seek out diverse sources of information to ensure we are getting a full and accurate picture of any given issue or politician,” she stated.
Harris made history when she took the oath of office in January 2021 as the first Black and first female vice president.
Harris’s political career began in San Francisco, where she served as a prosecutor. She quickly gained a reputation for her tough stance on crime and her ability to bring criminals to justice.
She won election as District Attorney, where she implemented several innovative programs to reduce recidivism and improve public safety.
She also made headlines for successfully prosecuting several high-profile cases involving a notorious drug dealer and a corrupt police officer.
In 2010, Harris became the first woman and individual of color elected Attorney General of California.
During her tenure, she focused on consumer protection, environmental justice, and civil rights issues.
She also successfully defended California’s same-sex marriage ban in court, a decision that drew criticism from some progressive activists.
Harris’s political career continued to soar, and in 2016, she was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming only the second Black woman to serve in the Senate.
During her time in the Senate, Harris fiercely advocated for progressive causes, including criminal justice reform, healthcare, and immigration.
Harris also received positive reviews across 18 countries in a 2022 Pew Research Center survey.
Pew found that about 55% of adults in these countries have confidence in Harris handling of world affairs, including half or more who hold that view in 14 countries.
Confidence in Harris is exceptionally high in Sweden, where 77% of adults view her positively.
“It’s unfair how narratives become so powerful and take on a life of their own. These lies threaten to affect the discourse around the 2024 Presidential Race and even Vice President Harris’s political future as she remains a key contender for the Democratic Nomination for President in the future,” Randall Barnes wrote in a March 2023 editorial for HBCU Pulse.
“She is one of the best, if not the best, vice presidents of all time, and she’s done her constitutional duties with excellence and often does even more to advance important causes for the Biden Administration that isn’t a part of her job description,” Barnes asserted.