Last Updated on August 6, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 527
The Truths We Hold: an American Journey by Kamala Harris, the former Attorney General and Senator from California, is a hybrid memoir-political platform, a form common to campaign biographies. Her background, however, is unusual for someone who has risen to such heights; she is the first American of either Jamaican...
(The entire section contains 527 words.)
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The Truths We Hold: an American Journey by Kamala Harris, the former Attorney General and Senator from California, is a hybrid memoir-political platform, a form common to campaign biographies. Her background, however, is unusual for someone who has risen to such heights; she is the first American of either Jamaican or Indian heritage to serve in the Senate.
She describes her early years as the child of college-educated, politically conscious immigrants, who were active in the civil rights movement of the 1960s and often would take her in a stroller to rallies and marches. Harris explains how her mother, although of Indian descent, understood the reality her daughters would face as African-Americans in the United States and imbued them with a deep sense of pride in themselves and their racial origins. She also instilled in them an awareness of the importance of justice as the bedrock of society, which the nascent Attorney General cites as a fundamental influence on her future career. Harris touches on difficult moments in her early years, such as the pain of her parents' divorce and the shock she felt after failing to pass the California Bar exam, a rare experience for her.
In the latter part of the book, Harris turns to address the core principles which have guided her legal and political careers, and her vision for the future of the United States. Aware that many have questioned how she could reconcile her choice to become a District Attorney with a concern for social justice, she responds thus:
For me, to be a progressive prosecutor is to understand—and act on—this dichotomy. It is to understand that when a person takes another's life, or a child is molested, or a woman raped, the perpetrators deserve severe consequences. That is one imperative of justice. But is also to understand that fairness is in short supply in a justice system that is supposed to guarantee it. The job of a progressive prosecutor is to look out for the overlooked, to speak up for those whose voices aren't being heard, to see and address the causes of crimes, not just their consequences, and to shine a light on the inequality and unfairness that lead to injustice. It is to recognize that not everyone needs punishment, that what many need, quite plainly, is help.
In a nod to groups like Black Lives Matter, Harris acknowledges the clear racial bias inherent in US policing systems and admits that it does not treat all US citizens equally. She describes the initiatives she has undertaken at judicial reform and advocates for an extended overhaul of sentencing procedures as part of the solution to this dire problem.
Harris goes on to outline a generally liberal political platform on issues such as healthcare, economic justice, women's issues, climate change, immigration, and education. However, her tough approach to national security might well find bipartisan support in its recognition of the destructive effect of recent cyberattacks on the survival of our democracy.
The book is an account of an impressive life which should serve as an inspiration to many; to those closely following the 2020 presidential campaign, it should serve as foreshadowing.