In Paris, Kamala Harris introduced himself to the world

This week, when Vice President Kamala Harris visited an American military cemetery outside Paris, she stopped at the grave of an Oakland woman who served as a switchboard operator during the First World War.

Harris’ guide said that these women, known as “Hello Girls,” are good at using phone lines. His comments prompted Harris to point it out quickly.

“This is one of the few jobs that women can have,” said the first female vice president in American history. “Because they may also be surgeons.”

Harris’ trip to France gave her the opportunity to present herself on the world stage-after she spent 10 months focusing on the United States, it highlighted her as the first woman and the first woman of color in the United States The status of holding such a high position regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises that hit her It enjoys a high reputation in the country.

When she introduced herself to America’s oldest ally, the vice president was introducing herself in personal terms.

She visited a Paris laboratory where her mother was an Indian-born scientist doing medical research. As part of the Veterans’ Day commemoration, she went to the cemetery of a barrier-breaker in Harris’ hometown of Oakland. In her keynote speech at the Paris Peace Forum on Thursday, she mentioned her mother and the larger themes surrounding the growing inequality in the world.

“My mother and her work taught me the power of this short and very important question,” Harris said in her 13-minute speech. “This question is why there are leaders everywhere in history-leaders in the fields of science, politics, business, art, and education-leaders who refuse to accept the status quo and ask why and who acted.”

Harris said that issues such as viruses, economic inequality, cyber attacks and climate change know no borders and can only be resolved through cooperation between countries.

Harris had previously visited Latin America and Asia twice as Vice President, was restricted by COVID-19 restrictions and was eclipsed by the controversy involving her Comments on Meimo The border and the government withdrew from the chaos in Afghanistan. Harris’s advisers hope that the five-day trip to France will revive her diplomatic reputation.

Although Harris’ visit did not arouse the kind of attention that the president would get, she drew some interest from the French, who even celebrated Barack Obama before he became the first black president of the United States, when he was in 2008. Visit as a senator.

Harris occupies a prominent position in news reports Meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday night, It appeared on live television on Thursday, when she had a friendly conversation with Macron at the National Armistice Day commemoration under the Arc de Triomphe.

Alexis Buisson, a French journalist based in New York who is writing a biography of Harris, said that in France, people who care about politics and activists who promote the country’s more open resolution of racial issues follow Harris’s career.

“Suddenly, a politician like Kamala Harris suddenly appeared in front of the French… She was not an old white man,” Buisen said.

“She represents a new kind of America, and frankly, the French prefer Trump’s America,” he added.

In addition to Bouysson’s biography, at least one French documentary about Harris is in production.

The vice president has personal connections with France and French. She spent her teenage years in Quebec, Canada, including time spent in a French school. Although she can speak some French, she insisted on using English when she appeared in public here.

During her visit to the Pasteur Institute on Tuesday, she often talked about her mother, a cancer researcher who worked there decades ago. At least one of the researchers Harris met consulted her mother’s old papers and praised their early insights.

“These breakthroughs [my mother] Being responsible in the 1980s was the foundation of a lot of great work,” Harris said.

Part of the interest in Harris also stems from a special moment in Europe—liberals are fighting against right-wing populism and re-examining their country’s relationship with race and racism.

Rebecca Amsellem, who runs a feminist media company in Paris, said of the change in tone that racist language “has become normal and people speak it out loud.”

When the Americans protested the police’s murder of George Freud last year, the French followed suit. Mass movement Adama Traoré was a young black man who died in police custody on the outskirts of Paris.

France’s population is estimated to be 4% to 5% black, but the country refuses to keep official statistics on race—one of many practices that show differences in the way race is depicted and constructed here compared to the United States. In the Enlightenment, the concept of citizenship excluded other identities.

As another sign of close ties with black Americans, the French will bury Josephine Baker in the Pantheon next month, an 18th-century monument in the center of Paris. Baker is an American-born artist who moved to France in the 1930s and died in 1975. He was active in the French Resistance during World War II and later in the American Civil Rights Movement.

As one of a group of artists and intellectuals who came to France in the 20th century to seek a safe haven for racism, Baker will be the first black woman to be buried in the Pantheon. This honor was awarded to approximately 80 people, including only five other women . She is now buried in Monaco.

Christiane Taubira, the first black woman to serve as French Minister of Justice, said that although people are often disturbed by racial topics and the country’s history in the slave trade, this event will be the pride of many French people. source of.

“Until they face the color problem, they won’t think about it,” she said.

This is why Taubira believes that the symbolism of Harris’ visit is important.

“This is very important for prejudiced whites,” she said. “It is very important for them to see such a highly responsible lady.”

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