“My chittis.”

In August 2020, those were among the most profound words from Kamala Harris’s speech at the Democratic National Convention as she showed gratitude towards her family. This was months before she became the new Vice President in the American General Election and will officially enter office at the start of the new year. Never before in history has this terminology, let alone language, been spoken on a national stage or platform in the U.S.

As someone of Indian and Jamaican heritage, her ability to say these words provided an opportunity for people across the country to be seen and heard. They could draw personal connections and have their identities be reflected for once. In Tamil Nadu, where her mother was from, the term “chitti” actually refers to a stepmother or paternal uncle’s wife. It especially refers to a mother’s younger sister, in which Harris frequently utilizes the term “auntie” as a form of endearment like many communities of color tend to do.

Her nomination, then selection, for the second highest office in the land made very significant strides for cultural representation. She is the first woman, first person of Black and South Asian descent, first child of immigrants, and first graduate of a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to ever rank this high in the U.S. When she begins working alongside future President Joe Biden, this may signal the beginning of a long line of diversity in the White House.

Regardless of political stance or position, there’s no doubt that this election was one to remember. History has been made in a plethora of ways and will make a profound impact on society for years to come. As Kamala Harris demonstrated, language has the ability to unite diverse individuals and bring their truth to light.

Source 1: https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/20/chittis-kamala-harris-dnc-tamil/

Author 1: Teo Armus

Source 2: https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/my-chitthis-significance-sen-kamala-harris-speaking-tamil-national-stage-n1237562

Author 2: Saloni Gajjar

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