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Kamala Harris Stands By Her Time As a Prosecutor in Breakfast Club Interview

Illustration for article titled Kamala Harris Stands By Her Time As a Prosecutor in iBreakfast Club /iInterview
Screenshot: The Breakfast Club

Monday morning, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris appeared on The Breakfast Club to discuss a wide range of subjects, from her time as a prosecutor, to critiques of her blackness, to her cooking skills.


The interview, which had some interesting gems, was a mix of the predictable—she mostly stood by her time as a prosecutor, which was not surprising—and the personal: she was asked about her husband, who happens to be white, a question I wish would die a quick, hot death.

But let’s start with the predictable. When it comes to her past as a law and order prosecutor, there was clearly no shame in her game.


Harris told The Breakfast Club she doesn’t regret throwing rapists, child molesters and murderers behind bars. And well, I mean, duh. Who wouldn’t? Then she went on to say the system is flawed and needs to be reformed. And while she praises activism for pressuring the system to do better, she spoke of the need to be on the inside as well.

She also provided an example of how a black person with power can help fight stereotypes in law enforcement:

As a prosecutor, when I first started, it was during the height of, what was happening with the Crips and Bloods mostly in LA. So California was passing all these gang enhancements. I’ll never forget sitting in my office, where there was a bunch of folks that I work with, standing outside talking about how they were going to prove that a gang enhancement, which would cause someone to go to prison longer, and they started talking about the way a person was dressed, and the corner they were hanging out on, and the music they were listening to. So I walked out of my office and said, “Hey, so my cousins and my family, members of my family, dress that way. I have family and friends who live in that neighborhood, and I’ve got, I’m going to date myself, I’ve got a tape of that music in my car right now.”

Harris went on to say she could have done more while she was a prosecutor and said black prosecutors have told them she was their inspiration. Also, she said that as a U.S. senator, she’s proposing to reform America’s bail system.

“Because I know that people are sitting in jails everyday in America, because they can’t afford the $20,000 while they’re waiting for trial,” she said. “Meanwhile the same person who committed the same kind of crime gets out, if they’ve got the money. That’s a criminal justice issue; that’s an economic justice issue.”


Still, her defense of her prosecutorial bonafides wasn’t without mishap. Perhaps the most troubling part came when Harris said, “And let’s not buy into the myth that black people don’t want law enforcement. We do. We don’t want excessive force. We don’t want racial profiling. But certainly, if someone robs my house, I’m going to call the police, as are most of us.”

This answer, unfortunately, points to a larger issue where politicians routinely offer up law enforcement as the only solution to crime reduction. It is a response that lacks creativity and is, alas, blandly predictable. Personally, I’d like to know if Harris can reimagine the system functioning in a drastically different way. Her responses didn’t provide much in the way of structural remedies on how to make cops accountable. She simply provides an idea of how cops should behave without detailing penalties for officers who refuse to reform. For example, Harris has yet to outline, in detail, how she’d respond to officers who resist real, far-reaching reform—or, better yet, an overhaul.


Up next, The Breakfast Club hosts asked her about her blackness, and ... for real? For really real? I hate this question, but here is what she said:

I say they don’t understand what black people are. Because if you do, if you walked down Hampton’s campus or Howard’s campus or Morehouse or Spelman or Fisk you would have a much better appreciation for the diaspora, for the diversity, for the beauty in the diversity of who we are as black people. So, I’m not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are.


Hope no one ever asks her this dumbass question again!

Which leads us to her husband, yet another topic that induces eye-rolls from me. When Charlamagne asked about criticisms over her interracial marriage, Harris gave the only response she could have:

“Look, I love my husband and he happens to be the one I chose to marry and that was that moment in time and that’s it,” she said. “That’s it. And he loves me.”


Gawd, I hate that she has to answer that question. Only Hoteps care about Harris’s white husband.

In other news from the interview: the Senator eats vegetarian, smoked weed in college (she thinks it should be legalized), and listened to Snoop Dogg and 2Pac when she was high.


We are unaware if she keeps hot sauce in her bag.

Watch the full interview here:

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.

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This answer, unfortunately, points to a larger issue where politicians routinely offer up law enforcement as the only solution to crime reduction. It is a response that lacks creativity and is, alas, blandly predictable.

I mean, saying that there is a need for police - because there are some critics literally taking the argument that there isn’t a need for any- is not an argument against other kinds of solutions to crime. Like, maybe you would have liked to her to have expanded on the idea in the interview, but I have to imagine her platform for justice reform - which ANY Democrat will be pressured to have - is more than “more police,”and I’m willing to give her the time to flesh it out.

I wasn’t particularly bothered by that answer. There may be other legitimate problems with particular cases she’s prosecuted. But doubting her commitment to creative criminal justice reform because she didn’t go into detail on a complicated issue on The Breakfast Club doesn’t seem like a fair criticism.

And, honestly, she’s not even my first choice at the moment.