Padma Lakshmi was “on a hike in Garrison, New York” when she heard that former Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris defeated Donald Trump and Mike Pence in the 2020 Presidential election. The news left the Top Chef host “elated,” according to her opinion piece in The New York Times. “Then suddenly I felt this heat welling up from my chest into my throat, and it burst out of me in tears I could not control. At first, I didn’t even know why I was sobbing. Finally, I was thinking. Finally, a woman, and a woman of color, takes this office.”
“I cried again as I watched Ms. Harris address the nation last weekend as the vice president-elect,” wrote Padma, 50. “The world finally saw a Black woman, whose parents came from Jamaica and India, near the pinnacle of American power. That vision, in an instant, seemed to evaporate some of the unnecessary hurdles I had faced, making a different path for a child like me growing up today.” Seeing Kamala, 56, and Joe, 77, triumph over Donald Trump, 74, and his administration’s racist policies –the Muslim travel ban, forcibly separating migrant children from their families, calling African nations“sh-thole countries,” telling the Proud Boys to “stand by,” and the near 1,000 other “cruelties, collusions, corruptions, and crimes” documented by McSweeny’s – gave Padma something she hasn’t felt in four years: a renewed faith in the American dream.
“Now Ms. Harris will have new authority and reach as vice president,” adds Padma. “The Trump era she is ending empowered people to show their racism nakedly, in slights and jeers and acts of violence. For many people of color and immigrants, the message was clear: You do not belong here, and you are not wanted. It will be a difficult and long path to undo that damage. But for me and other girls and women of color, Ms. Harris embodies an opposite message: You do belong here, her life says, and you obviously can achieve absolutely anything.”
During Padma’s OpEd, she blasted Trump’s “attacks on women, on people of color and on immigrants,” and said that so many people supporting him “feels like a betrayal.” However, she reminded those who fill her comments section with hate like “Go back to your country” that America is her country. “I am working to improve this nation, which you do not do for a place you do not love.”
Padma also listed her similarities with the Vice President-elect, writing how both their families “comes from the same city in India,” and that when Kamala accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president, “she thanked her ‘chitthis,’ the word for aunties in Tamil, a language of South India — not in Hindi, the official language of the country.” Padma saw herself — a young Indian girl who came to America when she was 4-years-old, one who had to quickly learn how to “navigate” America’s systemic racism to become successful — in Kamala, and knew that other girls and women of color do, too.
“Ms. Harris understands this,” wrote Padma, before citing what Kamala Harris said in her rousing victory speech: “‘While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last,’ she assured us. ‘Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.'”