- Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) was a presidential candidate in the 2020 election (opens in new tab) and is now Joe Biden's vice president pick for the 2020 election.
- She is the first Black woman to run on a major political party's presidential ticket.
- Over the years, people have pronounced her name wrong (opens in new tab).
- It's "COMMA-LAH," not "KUH-MAL-UH."
When Sen. Kamala Harris announced she was running for president (opens in new tab), the nation began to pay more attention to the Democratic senator from California, including on-air reporters discussing her political background and the issues she plans to focus on during her campaign.
However, as most of us know, when women are leading the way—specifically women of color—there tends to be a lack of respect for common courtesies like learning how to pronounce the person's name. President Trump is a prime example of someone who butchered her name, reportedly pronouncing it as "Kameela" (opens in new tab) in a New York Times interview.
Harris, who is now Joe Biden's pick as vice president (opens in new tab) in the 2020 election, has struggled with the public pronouncing her name over the years, so much that she even created a video having kids pronounce her name when she was campaigning for her senate seat in 2016.
As the kids say, it's not "CAM-EL-UH." It's not "KUH-MAL-UH." It's not "KARMEL-UH."
It's pronounced, "COMMA-LAH."
People pronounce my name many different ways. Let #KidsForKamala show you how it’s done. pic.twitter.com/7QoQGN0B4kMay 24, 2016
Here's another video that explains where Harris' name is derived from, and how not to pronounce it:
Harris' name is actually derived from the Sanskrit word for "lotus," and the explanation sounds gorgeous and meaningful. "The symbolism is that the lotus flower sits on water, but never really gets wet," she explained (opens in new tab) at a book event at George Washington University. "Its roots are in the mud, meaning it is grounded. One must always know where they come from."
The View host Whoopi Goldberg actually asks Harris how to pronounce her name at the beginning of this video, after initially mispronouncing it in her introduction—but, the effort to get it right helped her advocate for the right way to say it, particularly among media professionals. She also gave them the handy "comma" plus "la" mnemonic to help people remember.
Mispronunciation and questions about her name are apparently so common that Harris wrote an entire paragraph about it in The Truths We Hold (opens in new tab), her memoir written in January 2019.
Now that we've established how to properly pronounce Harris' name, prepare to see her a lot more, front and center, leading up to the November election. (Harris is the first Black woman, first South Asian woman, and the first person from west of Texas selected for a Democratic ticket (opens in new tab).) Tomorrow, Harris and Biden will appear in Wilmington, DE (opens in new tab) for one of their first official appearances together since the VP news broke.
Jot Down These 2020 Voter Registration Deadlines (opens in new tab)
35 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
If anyone tries to tell you otherwise, show them these statistics.
By Brooke Knappenberger
How New York's First Female Governor Plans to Fight for Women If Reelected
Kathy Hochul twice came to power because men resigned amid sexual harassment scandals. Here, how she's leading differently.
By Emily Tisch Sussman
Why the 2022 Midterm Elections Are So Critical
As we blaze through a highly charged midterm election season, Swing Left Executive Director Yasmin Radjy highlights rising stars who are fighting for women’s rights.
By Tanya Benedicto Klich
Tammy Duckworth: 'I’m Mad as Hell' About the Lack of Federal Action on Gun Safety
The Illinois Senator won't let the memory of the Highland Park shooting just fade away.
By Sen. Tammy Duckworth
Roe Is Gone. We Have to Keep Fighting.
Democracy always offers a path forward even when we feel thrust into the past.
By Beth Silvers and Sarah Stewart Holland, hosts of Pantsuit Politics Podcast
The Supreme Court's Mississippi Abortion Rights Case: What to Know
The case could threaten Roe v. Wade.
By Megan DiTrolio
Sex Trafficking Victims Are Being Punished. A New Law Could Change That.
Victims of sexual abuse are quietly criminalized. Sara's Law protects kids that fight back.
By Dr. Devin J. Buckley and Erin Regan
My Family and I Live in Navajo Nation. We Don't Have Access to Clean Running Water
"They say that the United States is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Why are citizens still living with no access to clean water?"
By Amanda L. As Told To Rachel Epstein