Who is Donald Harris? Jamaican dad of Kamala is a prominent economist
Combination of photos showing Donald Harris with daughter Kamala, when she was a child and as an adult.
While elated at the achievement of US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, some Jamaicans have been expressing disappointment that Harris, whose father Donald Harris is Jamaican, didn't mentioned him in a speech she gave Saturday in Delaware, shortly after US media had called the 2020 presidential race for her and President-elect Joe Biden.
Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, spoke glowingly of her late Indian mother, Shyamala Gopalan, a biologist whose work on the progesterone receptor gene stimulated work in breast cancer research. A child of immigrants, Kamala is a Jamaican-Indian-American.
The true nature of the relationship between Kamala and her father is not known but it appears to be strained at best.
But just who is Donald Harris? Loop News shares details of the life and career of the Jamaican father of one of the most powerful women in the world.
- Donald Harris is an award winning 82-year-old professor emeritus at Stanford University.
- He was born in Orange Hill, near Brown’s Town in the north coast parish of St Ann, Jamaica on August 23, 1938 to parents Oscar Joseph Harris and Beryl Christie Harris.
- He arrived in the United States in 1961 to read for a Ph.D at the University of California-Berkeley.
- Donald met Shyamala Gopalan at Berkeley during the Civil Rights Movement
- He was married to Gopalan from 1963 to 1971. The marriage bore two children, Kamala in 1964 and her younger sister Maya in 1967.
- Kamala’s mother was granted full custody of her and her sister following a protracted custody battle.
- Donald Harris later became a United States citizen and taught at the University of Illinois and Northwestern University
- He was an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Harris moved to California where he secured job as a Professor of Economics at Stanford University from where he retired in the 1990s
- His research and publications, according to his Stanford bio, “have centered on exploring the analytical conception of the process of capital accumulation and its implications for a theory of growth of the economy, with the aim of providing thereby an explanation of the intrinsic character of growth as a process of uneven development.”
- He has travelled around the world to conduct research, give seminars, and consult with various governments—including in his home country of Jamaica, where he served as an economic adviser - to work toward boosting their economies.
- Donald Harris’ books include: Capital Accumulation and Income Distribution, Jamaica’s Export Economy: Towards a Strategy of Export-led Growth
- In a 2018 essay entitled Reflections of a Jamaican Father, Donald Harris stated that despite the terms of their divorce, his love for his family did not end when his marriage did. “Nevertheless, I persisted, never giving up on my love for my children or reneging on my responsibilities as their father,” he said.
- He details taking his daughters to Jamaica in the 1970s to teach them about their heritage.
The strained nature of their relationship was on full display in February when, during an appearance on the radio show ‘The Breakfast Club” when she was still running for president, Kamala joked with host Charlamagne tha God about her views on marijuana use.
When asked by the host whether she supported or opposed the legalisation of ganja, Kamala said: “Half my family is from Jamaica. Are you kidding me?”
Donald Harris was clearly not amused. In a statement to Jamaica Global Online, he said: “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 graves 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.”