A few weeks ago, I had an unexpected phone conversation with California's U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic presidential candidate whom I gave no chance of winning the black vote. Harris reached out because I've harshly criticized her in this column space since she began her campaign for the White House.
Harris, one of ten candidates who qualified for the next debate, September 12 in Houston, is running behind former Vice President Joe Biden and her Senate colleagues Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in most polls.
But after I spoke with her, Harris changed my mind. She is the only candidate who can scare Donald Trump in a head-to-head matchup. And by having a conversation with someone who trashed her publicly, Harris proves she can work with anybody to lead this country in a positive direction.
Here are my reasons for supporting her:
1. When former Vice President Joe Biden was a U.S. senator, he supported Tipper Gore, Al Gore's wife, when she went after hip-hop and the music industry by putting artists such as my group, 2 Live Crew, on a blacklist. Biden and Gore were Senate colleagues at the time, along with John McCain, who had called me to appear before a congressional hearing about explicit lyrics. I refused because they were infringing on our freedom of speech and wanted to censor us.
Bill Clinton used the controversy to deregulate radio stations so they could be purchased by major corporations. Now you hear only the same ten songs over and over again. It was the Democrats who wanted to stop and control hip-hop.
Biden is counting on being Barack Obama's faithful sidekick to make black people forget he originally wrote and championed the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act when he was a U.S. senator. Biden, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party are responsible for the disproportionate number of people of color who were hit with unfair prison sentences.
Judging by his recent public appearances, I think Biden has lost a step and doesn't have his wits. He's forgetting things, such as that he was no longer in office when the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School mass shooting happened. Biden keeps saying he's the only one who can get into a political fistfight with Trump. However, Trump will make quick work of Uncle Joe.
2. Elizabeth Warren is a typical politician. She tells you all the beautiful things you want to hear. But she is not really talking to African-Americans about what will lift them. She talks about reparations as if Congress would really approve giving every black person 40 acres and a mule. C'mon. She's insulting the black community's intelligence. There is no way she can follow through on reparations. And she doesn't have the cutthroat mentality to take on Trump in a debate, much less stand up to Vladimir Putin.
3. Bernie Sanders is the male version of Warren. He tells everybody he'll make sure everyone goes to college for free. No sane person believes that state schools such as the University of Florida and Ivy League schools like Harvard will let everyone in for free if Sanders becomes president. It would be a cold day in Hell. Sanders' other major campaign promise is raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Fuck that. In the black community, people want to be entrepreneurs and own their own businesses. Bernie should be proposing plans so people of color are provided the same level of credit as white business owners.
4. As far as the other candidates, there's nothing to say about them because none of them has any shot of winning a primary.
5. Harris, on the other hand, can lead this country back to the top after Trump has fucked everything up. Black people still want to know if she is black enough. After speaking with her, I believe there's no doubt. Yes, as a prosecutor, she had to uphold the law and put people in prison. However, unlike the Clintons and Biden, she is not the architect of a crime bill she had to enforce in her home state.
And Harris created a reentry program in California that helps felons find jobs, get an education, and become productive members of society. Harris will be able to connect with black voters by telling them about her proposals that will help them start their own businesses and qualify for credit.
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She listened when I told her that historically black colleges deserve more support. These institutions are suffering because states don't provide them with the same amount of funding the major colleges and universities receive.
Plus, Harris has the steely resolve of a former district attorney, and she will go toe-to-toe with Trump. In a general election campaign, she will be able to speak to voters directly the same way she did with me.
If she was willing to talk to me after I assailed her career, that tells me she can work with politicians on the other side of the aisle. She doesn't take it personally. It's about the American people.
After our conversation, I believe Harris is the candidate every American should get behind. She will fight for all people, regardless of race, skin color, or sexual orientation.