New Delhi: Meenakshi Ashley Harris, the niece of US Vice President Kamala Harris, has ruffled many feathers in India with her latest Twitter activity, after she extended her support to the farmer protests, commented on the state of India’s democracy and most recently, its history of alleged “anti-blackness”.
An American lawyer and children’s book author, Harris has a strong social media following with more than 6 lakh followers on Twitter and over 8 lakh followers on Instagram. Furthermore, her proximity to the second most powerful person in the US draws considerable attention to what she has to say on social media. She has also proven to be sharp-witted and willing to take on those who troll her.
In her tweets on India, Harris did not confine her comments to the farmer protests — she has gone on to make statements like the “most populous democracy is under assault”. In the same thread, she said militant nationalism is a potent threat in India, US and any place else and that “fascist dictators aren’t going anywhere”, unless people organise.
She has also shared some tweets that target the Narendra Modi government directly.
India is one of the most hostile countries for women, esp Dalit women.
The aggression Modi's supporters (mostly male) have shown towards GT, Rihanna et all is perfectly in proportion to how aggressive they are to Indian women. This episode is a peak into India's #RapeCulture https://t.co/Jd1iOtdV3o
— Vidya (@VidyaKrishnan) February 5, 2021
Harris also focused on the arrest and detention of activist Nodeep Kaur, a Dalit labour rights activist and member of the Mazdoor Adhikar Sangathan in Sonipat.
Then, in response to a tweet that accused her of ‘Hinduphobia’, Harris asserted that she’s Hindu and added, “stop using religion as a cover for fascism”.
When this elicited a sarcastic tweet from journalist Dilip Mandal that reminded her she’s casteless because she’s ‘black’, Harris retorted sharply: “I believe this is supposed to be sarcastic and a critique of Hindu extremist talking points, but it’s much too close to the reality of blatant anti-blackness I’ve witnessed from Indians for a long time now. So sure, let’s talk about that too.”
I believe this is supposed to be sarcastic and a critique of Hindu extremist talking points, but it’s much too close to the reality of blatant anti-blackness I’ve witnessed from Indians for a long time now. So sure, let’s talk about that too. https://t.co/mR0hKpKFBl
— Meena Harris (@meenaharris) February 7, 2021
Meena Harris’ work
Meena, 36, is the daughter of Maya Harris, sister of Kamala Harris. She is a lawyer and the author of two children’s books. At Stanford and Harvard, both Ivy-league schools, she studied the arts and law, respectively.
Harris started Phenomenal Woman Action Campaign, launched on Women’s Day in 2017. This is an initiative that raises money for charity by selling apparel with women-empowering slogans. She assisted her aunt Kamala in her campaign to be a senator in 2017 as well as her vice-presidential campaign. She was also a part of the 2008 presidential campaign for Barack Obama.
Most of her work, however, revolves around women’s empowerment, inclusivity and promotion of diversity.
She is a New York Times bestselling author and has two books under her name. Her picture book ‘Kamala and Maya’s big idea’ is based on true stories from the childhood of the Vice President and her mother, while her second book Ambitious Girls, which came out in January 2021, tells young girls that being ambitious is not a bad thing after all.