I shouldn’t have to say this, but for the white men whose fragile egos can’t handle a little competition from a capable Black woman, it is worth noting that we don’t ever have to apologize for bringing our A-game. And, for that matter, Sen. Kamala Harris doesn’t ever have to apologize for being a formidable competitor in a presidential competition.

On Monday, Politico reported that when former Sen. Chris Dodd, a member of Joe Biden’s vice presidential search committee, asked Harris about the busing comment that sent a noteworthy blow to Biden in the first Democratic debate, Dodd was shocked that she had no remorse, instead laughing it off and saying, “that’s politics.” 

Is she wrong? Harris was on a debate stage going up against ten too many hopefuls trying to create a moment that felt both genuine and effective. Successfully landing a hit during a political debate is what’s supposed to happen. Is it not? Why would Harris apologize for making a concerted effort to win? 

When Biden himself was a presidential candidate in 2008, he often called out then Senator Barack Obama for his lack of experience. On every debate stage, campaign stage, and radio interview, Biden made it clear that the one-term senator was “naive.” That his ideas on foreign policy were problematic, and that he simply was not ready to be the “Leader of the Free World.” Should Obama have sidestepped him despite his qualifications, for another VP pick with only kind words? Possibly. But the White House, the administration, would not have been the same without the experience of the former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“Dodd felt it was a gimmick, that it was cheap,” the anonymous Biden donor told Politico of Harris’s debate comments. Adding that Dodd was so incensed he urged Biden to pick CBC Chair, Rep. Karen Bass because “she’s a loyal No. 2.”

2020 Democratic Debate Georgia Kamala Harris and Joe Biden shake hands
HOUSTON, TEXAS – SEPTEMBER 12: Democratic presidential candidates South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former tech executive Andrew Yang, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) interact after the Democratic Presidential Debate at Texas Southern University’s Health and PE Center on September 12, 2019 in Houston, Texas. Ten Democratic presidential hopefuls were chosen from the larger field of candidates to participate in the debate hosted by ABC News in partnership with Univision. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

You have to wonder what loyalty looks like to Dodd. Is it someone he believes will never question Biden’s decisions? Maybe it’s a woman who won’t have strong opinions on his policy. Quite possibly it’s a combination of the two, someone who always sings the prospective president’s praises while silencing their own voice — a Mike Pence type, perhaps.  

Well if that is, indeed, what Chris Dodd wants, he won’t get that in Bass or Harris. Their experience won’t allow it and they know their capabilities would be better used elsewhere. Harris was a former district attorney, an attorney general and now a senator. She takes William Barr to task like it’s a passion project she looks forward to finishing. Since Biden’s win on Super Tuesday, she’s been a compassionate supporter, a go-to fundraiser for a campaign limited by the coronavirus. If that’s not loyalty, Dodd should reassess what is.

I don’t need to defend Kamala Harris, her record does that on its own. But as a Black woman thoroughly annoyed by the assertion that another Black woman should show remorse for attempting to win, for questioning a man’s policies, and for having an opinion formed all on her own, it’s important that I say very clearly, the time for that has passed. It’s antiquated, infuriating and it needs to stop.  

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