Vice President Kamala Harris sat down for a candid interview with journalist Soledad O’Brien where the two spoke about a myriad of issues concerning Coronavirus rates amongst the Black community, police reform, and U.S. voting rights. The conversation aired on July 10 for BET’s State of Our Union: Vice President Kamala Harris special.
Harris began by addressing the importance of Black Americans receiving the vaccine and the harrowing impact that the virus has had on Black families. “1 in 3 Black Americans know somebody who died of Covid,” Harris explained. “So the impact on the community, the impact on individuals on their families is profound in terms of the loss.”
Harris said they are working on making vaccines more accessible for working families, including ride-share programs that will pick people up at their homes and take them to vaccination sites. The Vice president added that she and President Biden are also working alongside private sector companies to ensure that employees receive paid time off in order to get vaccinated.
During the conversation, Soledad asked Harris why she was chosen to lead the administration’s efforts on combating voter suppression to which Harris replied that the initiative was not only crucial but that it was “fundamental” in ensuring that voters of color were not deprived of their right of access to voting.
“In our country right now I believe there are 380 laws that are being presented to suppress or make it difficult for people to vote. And you know, we’ve been saying this for years, people lived and died for our right to vote. It is through the voting process, through the ballot box that we get all the things that we need and there are intentional attempts to deprive in particular, Black and brown and students and Native Americans and Asians the access to voting. Voting is a right. There’s no question about that.”
Harris went on to offer a few solutions to solve the pressing issue.
“…Part of the work that I’m doing is to travel around our country and ask people in the midst of all of your challenges, please pay attention to this. Most of what you’re seeing in terms of attempts to suppress the vote are coming out of legislatures in southern states. I’m also saying, look, for some of those states where the legislature is hell-bent on making it difficult for us to vote, we’re going to have to start rallying now to make sure we’re thinking creatively about how we register people to vote, how we remind them of what’s on the line.”
The Vice President also touched on the administration’s plans for police reform in the U.S.
“There are certain communities for which we see a big police presence, in other communities we don’t see a big police presence. But you know what you do see in those communities? Well-funded schools, high rates of homeownership, small businesses that have access to capital, people who have access to health care including mental health care, and it’s affordable and available.”
“Let’s understand what makes for a healthy community and include the resources that everybody needs every day,” Harris explained. “Let’s provide access to capital for small businesses and communities. Let’s make sure that our schools are well funded and that our teachers are well funded in schools…Let’s deal with access to health care including mental health care and let’s include creating incentives for homeownership.”
You can watch the full special in its entirety: