- Young girls see a reflection of themselves in the newly minted Madam Vice President.
“Kamala, you may be the first to do many things, but make sure you are not the last.”
— Shyamala Gopalan (Kamala Harris’ mother)
As Kamala Harris stood in purple, a color of unity and women’s suffrage on the west front of the U.S. Capitol building to take the oath to the office of the Vice President of the United States on January 20, she was not standing alone.
She was standing up for the hopes and aspirations of millions of young girls everywhere who now know they too can shatter the glass ceiling, dream bigger and demolish stereotypes that surround them.
We spoke to the youngest of her fan base, young girls from across the country who see in her an idol they want to emulate.
Aaradhya Reddy from Wilmington, Delaware may only be 7 years old, but she sure can teach us a thing or two about Harris, such is her knowledge about her. “She really inspires me as she’s the first Black Asian American Vice President in 231 years! I like that she is against giving guns to irresponsible people and wants to pay teachers more because they deserve more. I love that she wants to make all buses electric which won’t pollute our earth. She even said she doesn’t like Donald Trump!” she quips.
“I know she’s a good person,” 10-year-old Tanishka Sharma from Texas says eagerly. “Looking at her I now know that the color of my skin cannot stop me from achieving anything. And I’m really curious to know what she’s going to say to us kids”, she wonders.
It is when you talk to little girls like 10-year-olds Alisha Puri and Naina Chaudhary from South Brunswick, New Jersey, that one feels the influence she has had over young minds. For Alisha, she is a symbol of women’s rights and equality — “Her being an Indian American means she understands we need equality and need to end racism.”
“I know if I work hard like her, I can achieve anything,” Naina says.
There was probably always a conversation around issues of racial equality and gender discrimination, but Harris’s victory has opened the floodgates of discussion to the youngest of the country’s citizens.
10th grader Aditri Chauhan from Dayton, New Jersey, for instance, sees her as a symbol of America’s potential for progress — “The demographic of young Indian girls is often overlooked everywhere, underestimated in schools, colleges and struggling to be heard at work. Her roots give voice and inspiration to brown and black women.”
But being an Indian American, Black American and a woman aren’t the only reasons she has struck a chord with the younger generation. She is a woman of substance and they sense it.
Trisha Govil, an inspired 7th grader from Monmouth Junction, New Jersey is in awe of her “can-do” attitude. “She knows how to speak up for herself and for others. I know she will help people of all races realize they are not alone. I trust her. She may be the next Rosa Parks!” she says.
Harris’ poise and stellar repartee during the vice presidential debate with Mike Pence impressed 15-year-old Aarya Jain from Maryland, for whom “Harris has paved a path for more women aspiring to be in the U.S. Government.”
For the 7-year- old Anya Chouhan of North Brunswick, New Jersey, she could well be Wonder Woman reincarnate when she says, “I’m sure she will keep our country safe from the pandemic and make it go away.”
She’s a powerful speaker and when 2nd grader Ahana Kashyap from Delaware sees her on TV, she loves how “elegant she looks in her suit and how she blends her intelligence and sense of humor.” Almost in complete awe of her, Ahana is confident that she will “solve all problems.”
For 11-year-old Anika Neroth from Cedar Park, Texas she is “an icon with a fabulous style.”
“Being brought up by a single mom when everyone else had two parents” is what Miraya Bharucha, the exuberant 11-year-old from Atlanta, Georgia, who saw the entire Presidential Inauguration with her family, made Kamala Harris so “strong.” Seven-year-old Avani Sudha Gupta from Basking Ridge New Jersey knows that’s what her mom wants her to be too — “brave, strong and courageous- just like Kamala!”
It is when 9-year-old Krishika Sharma from Keller, Texas says, “I feel even I can be President now” and it is when 3rd grader Aishi Mahajan from Scotch Plains, NJ in her letter to Madame Vice President writes “I want to be like you one day” that Shyamala Gopalan’s words ring loud and clear once more.
Nupur Bhatnagar is a lawyer by training, an entrepreneur and a storyteller. She is rationalist and an art enthusiast who is fascinated by history. She loves to read and watch historical dramas — sometimes even sees herself in them. Nupur lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children.