Kamala Harris: Did The Jamaican-American Candidate For Vice President Unfairly Stereotype Jamaicans As Pot Smokers?

Photo: Flickr. US vice presidential candidate has Jamaican roots.
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The vice-presidential hopeful with a Jamaican heritage said in  a 2019 interview that she not only smoked but added “I inhaled”.

Perhaps said jokingly at first in the spirit of the interview, she proceeded to suggest that her Jamaican father’s side of the family would be disappointed in her if she did not support the legalization of marijuana.

However, Harris’ Jamaican father came out vigorously dissociating himself from his daughter’s statement.

“My dear departed grandmother… as well as my deceased parents , must be turning in their grave right now to see their family’s name, reputation and proud Jamaican identity being connected, in any way, jokingly or not with the fraudulent stereotype of a pot-smoking joy seeker and in the pursuit of identity politics.”

“Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.”

So did Kamala Harris deliberately and unfairly stereotype Jamaica as a nation of pot smokers?

An ironic twist in Ms. Harris’ associating marijuana smoking with her Jamaican heritage that seems to have escaped her as well as media watchers is the fact that it is also very much a part of her Indian heritage that she is so proud of claiming.

Is she aware that it was India that bequeathed a marijuana culture to Jamaica? In her authoritative Encyclopedia of Jamaican Heritage (2003) Oliver Senior writes:

“The practice of cultivating, smoking and otherwise consuming the herb (marijuana) is believed to have been popularized by Indian indentured immigrants who began to arrive from 1845. The local name ‘ganja’ is Indian. The concept of ganja as a holy herb is a Hindu one; it is widely used to enhance the religious experience in parts of India (despite government prohibition).”


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