Kamala Harris revealed an unconventional reason for supporting marijuana legalization last week- her own Jamaican ancestry.
When asked about why she supported decriminalizing the drug, she said that “half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”
It seems she said this unaware that many Jamaicans aren’t thrilled to see their country associated with the recreational drug- including her own father, Donald Harris, who immigrated to the United States from the Caribbean island nation.
Harris condemned his own daughter’s remarks in quite surprising and harsh terms, in a statement provided to Jamaica Global Online. Not only did he express his disapproval of her comments on marijuana, but he also went on to take a stab at the identity politics present within the Democratic Party and Kamala Harris campaign.
“My dear departed grandmothers(whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), as well as my deceased parents , must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics. Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”
Ouch. It’s enough to question how exactly the younger Harris got the impression of a connection between Jamaicans and marijuana growing up in her father’s household, although she’s admitted to using the drug years ago.
The elder Harris isn’t the first from the island nation to express displeasure at the association between Jamaica and Rastafarian-style marijuana culture. Jamaica is said to have the most churches per square kilometer in the world, and the ‘pot-smoking joy seeker‘ ideals associated with figures like Bob Marley tend to be more of a figment of the American cultural imagination than a realistic depiction of the country.
It’s possible that Kamala is invoking her Jamaican ancestry to rationalize her support for marijuana legalization simply for political convenience. As California Attorney General, she oversaw enforcement of drug laws often punitively applied to everyday people without elite political- or Jamaican- connections.
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