Marilee announced last month that she needed to read a biography (or autobiography) of someone and then dress up as that person and pretend to be them in front of her class. There was no discussion. She knew without hesitation that she wanted to be Kamala Harris.
She read Vice President-elect Harris’ memoir in its young adult form, and over the course of December told me about how Harris had advocated for a single mom who faced separation from her children, how she had won billions of dollars from banks when she was Attorney General of California, and how she had become the first Black Vice President-elect and the first female Vice President-elect.
She asked at one point how we could make her look like Harris for her presentation. Marilee doesn’t know the history of blackface, so her own thoughts went towards putting makeup on her face to darken her skin and wearing a wig. I explained that white people in our country have a history of caricaturing Black people in this way, and she didn’t want to participate in that legacy because her intention here was to learn about a Black woman who she emulates. She settled on a black pantsuit and a big smile and a fierce respect for our next Vice President.
This week, we saw the election of a Black man from Georgia as a United States Senator, which was announced on the same day we saw white women and men storming our nation’s capital, some carrying Confederate flags. There are plenty of barriers left to break and plenty of injustices that remain. But one little white girl is growing up with a new hero.
To read more with Amy Julia:
- Continuing the Conversation: Marilee and Ruby Bridges
- Big Feelings and Growing Up with Marilee
- In Their Own Words: William and Marilee on Having a Sister with Down Syndrome
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