A recent journey with Harris during the Fight for Our Freedoms College Tour on Air Force Two offered insights into the challenges of being the first woman, the first Black person, and the first person of South Asian descent elected to the vice presidency.
Seated at the front of Air Force Two, Harris, standing at just 5’4″, exudes a commanding presence. Her direct gaze and self-possessed composure, honed in the courtroom, make her a formidable figure. Yet, the “Momala” side of Harris is also evident, especially when discussing her family and personal life.
During an interview with People in her official residence, Harris, known for her warmth, gestures to a journalist to feel at home, illustrating the ongoing tension between projecting power and approachability.
Her groundbreaking role necessitates navigating uncharted territory, challenging long-standing norms set by the 48 previous vice presidents, all of whom were White men.
As Harris reshapes the role, her team faces unique challenges, exemplified by considerations such as the portrayal in photoshoots. This tension between projecting authority and warmth echoes the broader struggle faced by millions of women.
Despite being radically different from her predecessors, Harris is bound by the traditional responsibilities of the vice presidency, tasked with championing the administration’s accomplishments without overshadowing the president. The challenge of projecting both power and warmth is a live wire that runs through every aspect of Harris’ public life.
Harris’ recent 59th birthday, marked by a last-minute Oval Office meeting, highlighted the dynamic nature of her schedule. The People team, entering her official residence for an interview, was greeted by balloons and a bustling staff, offering a glimpse into Harris’ world.
The residence, located on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory, reflects Harris’ influence, from the vibrant fuchsia library to the historic inclusion of a mezuzah on the front doorpost, symbolizing her husband’s Jewish faith.
Challenges abound in Harris’ world, where missteps quickly become memes, and the specters of racism and sexism loom. Despite the potential for negative headlines and constant scrutiny, Harris remains steadfast in her belief in herself and her ability to make a difference.
In a conversation about handling negativity, Harris reveals her unwavering confidence and belief in making a positive impact. Her message is one of faith, not just in oneself but in the ability to believe in things that may not always be visible—a sentiment that resonates uniquely from a woman who has become a trailblazer in ways the world had never seen before.