Malcolm X reminded the world on May 22, 1962, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.”
Nearly 70 years later, POLITICO has offered the latest confirmation of the civil rights icon’s truthful words by publishing an article not only having the audacity to question Vice President Kamala Harris‘ choice of treatment for COVID-19 but also for referring to the most powerful Black woman in the free world by only her first name.
It was announced on Monday that Harris had tested positive for the virus.
But it was also the latest disrespect shown to Harris, the first Black and woman vice president in the nation’s history, and carried on a very American tradition of doing discourtesies to Black women, to put it mildly.
The decision to move forward with such an editorial approach was promptly called out by critics across social media who saw the faux pas as sexist and a decided departure from journalistic tradition when addressing sitting vice presidents.
POLITICO White House editor Sam Stein did himself and his organization no favors when he tweeted the story accompanied by the question: “A number of public health experts had the same question today: Why did Kamala take the Pfizer pill?”
“At least try to act professional and not like some contemptuous disrespectful entitled little brat,” writer David Steele tweeted.
The narrative surrounding the growing outrage particularly includes the topic of race, and not just the vice president’s.
“Good morning, white male journalists,” one person tweeted on Thursday. “Address Kamala Harris as Vice President Harris… that’s what she is… The Vice President.”
The article was indeed penned by white journalists, but they are not all male. Lauren Gardner was the lead byline on the article that was also credited to White House correspondents Alex Thompson and Max Tani. However, the sentiment stands and begs the question: Why would POLITICO run an article with such headline, especially in this era of movements pushing for equality?
An email sent from NewsOne to POLITICO seeking comments and answers to these questions and more was not immediately answered.
Another tweet responded to Gardner’s Twitter post asking why Harris was able to take “a drug a lot of Americans haven’t been able to access in the four months it’s been available.”
But, of course, a sitting vice president isn’t “a lot of Americans,” now are they?
“And it’s “Vice President Harris”, not ‘Kamala’ to you, @politico,” the tweet added. “You ain’t equals.”
The distinction of being elected to the highest levels of the nation’s executive branch of government comes with its fair share of privileges, including medicine. Just ask former President Donald Trump, who treated his COVID-19 with Remdesivir, which was also not readily available to the public at the time.
It’s unclear if POLITICO published an article at the time questioning why “Donald” used that drug made available to the commander-in-chief. However, it is very clear that in 2014 POLITICO published a piece suggesting that it would be then-President Barack Obama‘s fault if he got assassinated.
Disrespect for Black women is not isolated to the media, though mainstream news reports have certainly not been kind to Harris as she works to address some of the world’s most pressing issues like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as well as domestic priorities like the root causes of migration at the nation’s southern border.
Wall Street Journal opinion writer Peggy Noonan has also devoted multiple columns to trashing Harris under disingenuous auspices, including from before the 2020 election.
The entire situation underscored a sad but true sentiment eloquently expressed in a NewsOne op-ed by Jennifer R. Farmer, the author of “First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life,” who wrote: “The frustrating thing is that Black women at all levels never get to a point where we do not face disrespect.”