When Sen. Kamala Harris said last week that she obviously supports marijuana legalization and has smoked the plant, she cited her ethnicity — “Half my family’s from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”
Her Jamaican father is not happy about that.
In a statement to Jamaica Global Online, Donald Harris called his daughter’s remarks a “travesty” and accused her of stereotyping.
“My dear departed grandmother … 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,” he said.
“Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty,” Mr. Harris, an economics professor at Stanford University, concluded in a statement to the news site for the Jamaican diaspora.
Jamaica Global fretted that the remarks by Ms. Harris — an early front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — could fuel stereotypes of Jamaicans and cited U.S. news outlets’ headlines and columnists using the image.
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“For some, it is more than mere unease; one Jamaican commenting on social media expressed the concern that ‘soon my job will be singling me out to drug test me since I am from Jamaica. What a stereotype.’ Her concern is not unfounded given the experience of Jamaicans travelling to US ports having sniffer dogs around them in customs halls,” Jamaica Global wrote.
Jamaica Global also noted the “ironic twist” that while Ms. Harris’ father is Jamaican, her mother is from India, and that the practice of using marijuana as a mild hallucinogenic drug was Indian and brought to Jamaica when both nations were British colonies.
Marijuana was “popularized by Indian indentured immigrants who began to arrive from 1845. The local name ‘ganja’ is Indian. The concept of ganja as a holy herb is a Hindu one,” historian Oliver Senior wrote, according to Jamaica Global.