A couple of days ago the AP ran a story on the shocking controversy that has developed with regard to racist mispronunciations of Kamala Harris’ first name.
This apparently became a “thing” after Julia Louis Dreyfus and Andrew Yang did their best Laurel & Hardy routine over how to pronounce the name of Vice-President Mike Pence, calling attention to the fact that he had apparently “mispronounced the first name of Democrat
Presidential VP nominee Kalama Harris.
The “point” of their little skit — apparently, according to the AP — was to make clear that mispronouncing Harris’ last name — caused supposedly by the fact that it is “some kind of weird foreign name” according to Louis-Dreyfus — is not simply disrespectful, it is “racist.”
So, when Vice President Pence pronounced the Democrat
Presidential VP nominee’s first name as “Ka-MAH-lah”, with the emphasis on the second syllable, rather than “KAH-ma-la”, with the emphasis on the first syllable as supposedly is the correct pronunciation, he was allowing his inner racist to speak for him. AP states that Harris made this clear in her biography when she explained the pronunciation of her name is phonetically the same as “comma-la”. You remember her biography — the one she published in January 2019, 11 months before she dropped out of the Democrat primary race with under 4% support, before a single vote was ever cast.
Yeah, it was a best selling barn-burner of a read that I’m sure sold several hundred copies besides the thousands bought on behalf of her campaign.
Her supporters make clear the insidious nature of what they can only conclude is a deliberate effort:
Harris’ supporters say the pattern amounts to a deliberate effort by Trump and his allies to portray Harris — the daughter of immigrants — as someone who does not belong at the top ranks of politics. The mispronunciations follow a string of attacks that include racist and sexist memes and questioning whether Harris, who was born in California, is eligible to serve as vice president because her mother was Indian and her father Jamaican….)
“It is an effort to diminish her,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center Action Fund. ”It’s designed to signal difference.”
See, “KAH-mah-lah” is practically “Betty”, whereas “Kah-MAH-lah” conjures up images of female satanic devil worshipers. It almost rhymes with “Cruella” and we know how that almost ended up for the puppies. (I said “almost” — twice even).
Funny thing. I have followed politics as a hobby for the better part of 40 years. I follow California politics with some close interest. I have followed Harris’ career from SF District Attorney to California Attorney General because I thought she was striking out on an interesting path that seemed to want to mimic Bill Clinton in the 1980s in Arkansas. I have heard her discussed on political talk shows for 2 or more years.
But until I read that AP Story, if you had asked me how to pronounce her first name I would have said “Kah-MAH-lah” Harris. I guess I should have read her book rather than listened to all those talk shoes who mentioned her.
So how has this “racist” thinking been so embedded in my brain for so long? Is it “white privilege” that compels me to degrade her through such an obvious error?
Or maybe … it’s because I’m a sports fan.
Jamal Crawford — basketball player. “Jah-MAL”
Jamal Mashburn — basketball player. “Jah-MAL”
Jamal Anderson — football player. “Jah-MAL”
Jamal Lewis — football player. “Jah-MAL”.
Jamal Williams — football player. “Jah-MAL”.
Jamal Murray — basketball player. “Jah-MAL.
Not a single “JAH-mal” among them.
They must all be a bunch of white supremacist racists.
I intend to write several stories in the weeks ahead about
Presidential VP Nominee Harris’ time as SF District Attorney and California AG. Many of the stories will focus on half-truths and blatant mistruths she has told along the path of her career — all of which were intended to either advance her political prospects or shield her political prospects from scrutiny.
Just so there is no confusion, I’m going to refer to her in print from this point forward at “Kama-lie-alot”.
The correct pronunciation shall be “Comma-lie-alot”.
Don’t let me catch you saying it wrong.