Seated at a table in the ornate, ceremonial vice president’s office, Rep. Ami Bera described to Kamala Harris how he felt when he saw the ubiquitous photo that accompanied the coverage of her selection as vice president, of her as a child standing next to her mother clad in a traditional Indian sari.
“When I see those pictures with her mom, I see my story in there,” Bera (D-Calif.), the longest-serving Indian American member of Congress, said after the May 11 meeting. “I see my story in her story.”
That private moment was a milestone in U.S. history: An Asian American vice president sitting down with an ascendant group of lawmakers of similar backgrounds. But the rarity of it also had another effect, spotlighting just how infrequently Harris has publicly spoken about that specific part of her biography.
Harris carried many firsts with her into the vice presidency. The daughter of an Indian mother and a Jamaican father, she is the first woman, Black person, Asian American, Indian American and biracial individual to serve as vice president.
Those firsts have come with their unique set of pressures, primarily for her to embrace her history-making role. And after nearly four months in office, Harris faces criticism that she hasn’t struck the right balance, that she’s focused more often on being the United States’ first Black vice president than the first Asian American one.