Kamala Harris's father said she disgraced her Jamaican family by using a 'fraudulent stereotype' in a joke about smoking weed

Kamala HarrisDemocratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) participates in a interview and question-and-answer session with leaders from historically black colleges and universities during a Thurgood Marshall College Fund event at the JW Marriott February 07, 2019 in Washington, DCChip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Kamala Harris's father criticized a joke she made that referenced her Jamaican heritage in response to a question about marijuana.
  • Donald Harris, an economics professor at Stanford University, said her grandparents "must be turning in their graves."
  • He was responded to a radio show in which Harris said she had smoked marijuana, joking: "Half my family's from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?"
  • Harris has supported marijuana legalization since last year, when she said: "Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it's the right thing to do."

Sen. Kamala Harris's father accused her of disgracing her family by using a "fraudulent stereotype" to say that she had obviously smoked marijuana because she is part-Jamaican.

Harris made the joke on The Breakfast Club radio show on February 11 when she was asked if she had ever smoked weed.

Harris's joking response was: "Half my family's from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?"

She said that she smoked a joint in college. "And I did inhale," she said, laughing. "I just broke news."

Her father, Donald Harris, a former economics professor at Stanford University, criticized his daughter in a statement to the Jamaica Online News website.

"My dear departed grandmothers (whose extraordinary legacy I described in a recent essay on this website), 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," he said.

"Speaking for myself and my immediate Jamaican family, we wish to categorically dissociate ourselves from this travesty."

Kamala Harris The Breakfast ClubKamala Harris discussed the legalization of marijuana on radio show The Breakfast Club in February.YouTube/The Breakfast Club
Donald had previously written a piece for the outlet called "Reflections for a Jamaican Father," in which he reflects on his family's history and on Harris's connections to Jamaica.

He wrote: "To this day, I continue to retain the deep social awareness and strong sense of identity which that grassroots Jamaican philosophy fed in me.  As a father, I naturally sought to develop the same sensibility in my two daughters."

"Born and bred in America, Kamala was the first in line to have it planted."

Harris's parents separated when she was young and decided to divorce a few years after that, according to Politico. Harris and her sister were raised by her mother, though their father remained in their lives, the site said.

kamala harris photos rally 38Katie Canales/Business Insider

Kamala, California's former attorney general, stayed quiet on whether she supported the legalization of weed until late year, when California officially legalized recreational marijuana use and Harris co-sponsored a Senate bill to end the federal prohibition on the drug.

"Making marijuana legal at the federal level is the smart thing to do and it's the right thing to do," she tweeted in May 2018.


Harris's campaign told Politico that it has no comment on her father's statement.

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