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Celebrity Ancestry: US Vice President Kamala Harris’s Ethnicity & Parents Heritage: 1.5m Google Her Race History & Mother & Father’s Ethnic Background

US VICE-PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS’s ethnicity and heritage seem hard to place for many who regularly Google queries about her ancestry and parents ethnic background. So what are the facts? By Ben Arogundade. Dec. 15, 2020.

DIVERSITY IN ACTION: US vice-president Kamala Harris, is the subject of much online curiosity about her ethnicity and her parents racial heritage. Is she black? White? Asian? Google records over 1.5 million search queries about her ethnic background and that of her mother and father each year.

IS US VICE-PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS black, white or Asian? These are just some of the questions curious fans ask about her online. Celebrities in general are the focus of intense scrutiny about every aspect of their lives, and Kamala Harris is no exception. Her ethnicity is a particular focus because the aesthetics of her face appear to suggest a combination of Asian and African ancestry. 


This has resulted in thousands of Google search queries about the precise details of Kamala Harris’s ethnic background. The search giant records and publishes this data, and it has become a useful guide to the kinds of things that people around the world are thinking about at any given time. For example, the terms, “Kamala Harris ethnicity”, and “Kamala Harris race heritage,” are Googled approximately 10,000 times each per month around the world.


Harris’s parents are also the subjects of searches. Kamala Harris’s father and mother are Googled a total of 5,300 times per month globally, while the phrase, “Kamala Harris parents” is searched 100,000 times. If we add up all the search queries relating to Kamala Harris’s ethnic background and family history, it amounts to over 1.5 million monthly queries on this subject alone.


So, what are the facts about Kamala Harris’s ethnicity? The California senator was born on October 20, 1964 in Oakland, California. Her parents are immigrants from Jamaica and India, who met as civil rights activists while they were students in 1960s America. Her mother, Shyamala Gopalan, (who died in 2009), was South Asian, from Tamil Nadu in Southern India. She was a cancer researcher. Her father, Donald Harris, is a retired Stanford University economics professor who was born in Jamaica. The couple divorced when Kamala was young, after which she was raised largely by her mother.


South Asians have been quick to celebrate Kamala Harris’s ethnicity and her mother’s ancestry following last November’s US election victory by Democrat Joe Biden. In the village of Thulasendrapuram, 200 miles from Chennai in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India, locals chanted, “Long live Kamala”. Harris’s maternal grandfather was born in the village. Crowds gathered to watch the US inauguration on large TV screens, while others urged her to come back and visit her ancestral home.


Kamala Harris joins the ranks of other ethnically ambiguous celebrities such as Jennifer Beals, Rosario Dawson, and Halle Berry, all of whom have also navigated the furrow between the different aspects of their ancestry. The biographies of these celebrities have become crucial reference points for America's new generation of young bi-racials seeking answers to questions about identity.

KAMALA’S FAMILY HISTORY: [First image] Kamala Harris’s parents, Shyamala Gopalan and Donald Harris. [Second image] US Vice President Kamala Harris, left, with her younger sister, Maya and her mother, Shyamala. Harris’s parents were immigrants from India and Jamaica.



The number of people worldwide who Google the phrase, “Kamala Harris race heritage” each month.


The number of people worldwide who Google the term, “Kamala Harris ethnicity”, each month.


The number of people worldwide who Google the term, “Kamala Harris parents”, each month.

*All figures for “Kamala Harris Ethnicity & Parents Background - According to Google Search”, supplied by Google. Stats include global totals for laptop and desktop computers and mobile devices.


WE HAVE BEEN SHOCKED and appalled by the murder of George Floyd in the US, and heartened by the resistance of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the aftermath, what matters most is not this painful past, but what we are going to do now. I am determined to transform my feelings of anger, pain and sadness into something positive and inclusive, which gathers and unifies citizens of all ethnicities who believe in fairness, equality and love. Hopefully that is you.

As a writer, to do my bit to assist, I am looking to raise funds to write, produce and publish an illustrated history book that narrates the story of society’s prejudices against BAME people in the 21st century, and the subsequent work of Black Lives Matter. Each person who donates the book price or more (£45.00/$55.00) will receive a copy.

I have written before about the history of the black experience, in a book called Black Beauty published in 2000. It went on to become a bestseller, was honoured by the New York Public Library and become the subject of a three-part BBC documentary. My proposed new book is a “sequel” which continues this literary journey into this new century.

The title will become an important educational and historical document that will both inform the growing audience of people seeking to understand how we got here, and also help ensure that the aims and values of the Black Lives Matter movement continue to resonate. 

This is the most important time in the history of the struggle for racial equality since the death of Martin Luther King in 1968. Let us not allow it to pass without doing what we can. Donate now, and let’s go!

Ben Arogundade

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