The Jamaican father of Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris said last Friday that his daughter employed a ‘fraudulent stereotype’ of pot-smoking Jamaicans when she acknowledged last week that she had smoked marijuana decades ago.
‘My dear departed grandmothers … 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,’ Professor Donald Harris said.
‘Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty.’
Donald Harris is a retired Stanford University professor who has served as an economic consultant to the Government of Jamaica and economic adviser to at least two prime ministers there.
His statement to Jamaica Global Online followed Sen. Harris’ interview with The Breakfast Club, a New York City hip-hop radio program. She told the hosts that she wants weed legalized and remembers what it felt like to be high.
‘I have. And I inhaled. I did inhale. It was a long time ago, but yes. I just broke news!’ Harris said,’ through a cascade of laughter. ‘You know, I joke about it – half joke – but half my family’s from Jamaica! Are you kidding me?’
‘It was a joint,’ Harris recalled, adding: ‘I think it gives a lot of people joy, and we need more joy!’
She courted controversy by saying she listened to Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur while she was high, after one of the program’s hosts placed the episodes during her college years.
Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986 and finished law school in 1989. The two rappers didn’t release albums to the public until 1993 and 1991.
By then, the future senator was a prosecutor in the Alameda County, California District Attorney’s office. She served in that office for eight years.
Her father Donald was a Stanford professor and adviser to the Jamaican government.
Born in Brown’s Town, in the north of the Carribean island, he was educated at the University College of the West Indies and then studied for a PhD at Berkeley, where he met and married Harris’ mother, also an academic at Berkeley at the time.
Harris is an economist specializing in economic development.
He was a professor at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, Chicago, the University of Wisconsin and from 1972, Stanford, retiring early in 1998 and becoming professor emeritus.
Professor Harris has advised the Jamaican government on development plans and was also a Fulbright scholar, and an adviser to the World Bank.
Although he has lived in the U.S. since 1960, he has kept close links to the island, publishing more than 30 academic papers on its economy, and also written for its local press.
It’s unclear if his daughter was a marijuana user during her time as a deputy district attorney, while she was cultivating an image as a tough-on-crime crusader who sent hundreds of people to state prison following marijuana-related convictions.
Harris now says she has long been an advocate for states legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes, and wants it legalized in general.
‘I think we need to legalize marijuana,’ she told the radio hosts, adding that ‘we need to move it on the schedule so that we can research the impact of weed on a developing brain.’
‘Not all drugs are the same,’ she insisted, while suggesting that criminalizing weed has disproportinately affected black men in America’s criminal justice system.
‘We have incarcerated so many, particularly young men – and young men of color – in a way that we have not for the same level of use, other young men. And we’ve got to deal with that,’ she said.
Recreational marijuana use is legal in 10 states and the District of Columbia. Thirty-three states have legalized medical marijuana. But the drug is still illegal under federal law – turning the pot trade into a volatile cash-only business that can’t use FDIC-insured banks for deposits.
It has been nearly 29 years since presidential candidate Bill Clinton admitted that he had smoked weed but insisted that he ‘didn’t inhale.’
More than a quarter-century later, Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson, a former New Mexico governor, said he was a regular pot smoker but stopped during the campaign: ‘I want to be completely on top of my game, all cylinders.’
President Donald Trump has softened his 1990s-era view that states should legalize marijuana. He has said he has never taken an illegal drug or drunk alcohol, with the exception of communion wine.
His predecessor Barack Obama was famously open about his drug use, recalling in a memoir his teenage friendships in a group he called ‘The Choom Gang.’
‘I inhaled frequently. That was the point,’ he told NBC News in 2006.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed in 2016 when she ran against Trump that despite surrounding herself with counter-culture figures in her twenties, she has never smoked marijuana.
‘I didn’t do it when I was young,’ she said in a 2014 town hall. ‘I’m not going to start now.’
Other presidential hopefuls have admitted toking in the past, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. After letting the cat out of the bag during a 2015 primary debate, he tweeted: ‘Sorry Mom.’
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign told DailyMail.com in 2016 that ‘when he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he’s never tried it since.’
‘Teenagers are often known for their lack of judgment, and Sen. Cruz was no exception,’ the spokesperson said at the time.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, David Martosko