Exclusive: Kamala Harris Calls for Decriminalization of Sex Work, Unequivocally Calls Trump a Racist and Wants Reparations (Sort of)

Eyes on 2020An in-depth look at the candidates vying for the highest office in the land in 2020.

U.S Sen. Kamala Harris, a frontrunner in the burgeoning 2020 race for the Democratic nomination for president, is addressing criticisms of her criminal justice record and, more recently, her stance on reparations.

Harris told The Root that she supports reparations for black people, but that is not precisely what she told The Grio’s Natasha Alford after we spoke with her. For reparations, Harris said she supports the Lift Act, which would provide a tax credit for all families making up to $100,000. When Alford followed up by saying that’s a default benefit to black people but isn’t exactly reparations, Harris had this to say:

“If you look at the reality of who will benefit from certain policies, when you take into account that they are not starting on equal footing, it will directly benefit black children, black families, black homes-owners because the disparities are so significant,” she said. “So, if we focus on the specific issues that have resulted in the greatest disparities and we understand that is part of why we’re doing it.”

“Listen, the reality is also this: any policy that will benefit black people, will benefit all of society. Let’s be clear about that. Let’s really be clear about that. So, I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m going to do something that only benefits black people. No. because whatever benefits that black family will benefit that community and society as a whole and the country.”


Well, that’s not reparations. It’s more of a rising tide lifts all boats kinda logic. Take a listen to our interview to hear Harris explain her position more.

Julián Castro was more direct in his focus on “people who are the descendants of slaves.” He didn’t say “all people.” Big difference.


On a more promising note, Harris says she is open to seeing sex work decriminalized. For those who have criticized her support of SESTA (The Stop Enabling Sex Traffickers Act of 2017) and FOSTA (Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017), her willingness to explore decriminalization may be welcome news—or not.

In our interview, Harris also discussed why she feels Donald Trump is a racist (unlike presidential candidates Cory Booker or Castro, Harris flat out said Trump is a racist), and what it means to try and get votes from people who supported him despite his racist views. We also asked her to reflect on her time as a prosecutor.

This is one of many conversations we plan on having with Harris as the 2020 presidential campaign continues. Check out our full interview above and tell us what you think.

Terrell Jermaine Starr is a senior reporter at The Root. He is currently writing a book proposal that analyzes US-Russia relations from a black perspective.



The problem with that focus is that people usually don’t want that the whole society has a benefit.

That’s why healthcare is a mess in this country.

This mindset is so puzzling to me.