How to measure society’s progress

A lotus flower that ascends above the surface. It remains to be seen whether the ascension of Vice President Kamala Harris will uplift the millions of Roses of this nation, those who lifted her up every step of the way.



January 25, 2021 - 8:18 AM

Kamala Harris is sworn as U.S. Vice President by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor as her husband Doug Emhoff looks on at the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2021, in Washington, DC. Photo by (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)

My grandmother’s name was Kamala. She was born in a small slice of western India at a time and a place where the gift of learning was not equally bestowed between genders. If my father’s memory serves correct, she was married in her early teens and hardly had the benefit of a fourth-grade education. Nevertheless, she raised six children who became college graduates, replete with advanced degrees.

My aunt’s name was Kamala. My mom describes her as the sweetest sister-in-law one could ever dream of. I never met her because her life was cut short on a highway in Uganda, as was the life of her youngest child. My mom and three of her sisters, not yet teens, were each assigned to care for one of Kamala’s surviving four children, a great charge at such tender ages.

My niece’s name is Kamla. She is a biracial child of immigrants, named in honor of the grandmother she was destined to never know. A businesswoman, an athlete, she grew up in an America where her life was less circumscribed by limitations of the Kamalas who came before her.

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