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One quarter of the Kamala Harris nomination coverage included racist or sexist stereotypes

Over half of reports analsed regarding senator mentioned her gender and race

Louise Hall
Tuesday 06 October 2020 16:56 BST
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One quarter of the coverage following the announcement of Kamala Harris as Joe Biden’s running mate included racist or sexist tropes, according to a new report.

The report published by Time’s Up Now analysed three weeks of coverage surrounding Sen Kamala’s Vice President nomination. Sen Harris made history in becoming the first black woman and woman of South Asian descent on a major party's presidential ticket. 

Notably, the report claimed that approximately a quarter of the coverage surrounding Sen Harris included racist and sexist tropes fueling the “angry black woman” stereotype and racist “birther” conspiracy theories.

In comparing her coverage to that of the 2016 vice-presidential candidates, the report showed that 61 per cent of the coverage surrounding Sen Harris mentioned her gender and race in contrast to five per cent in the reports of Mike Pence and Tim Kaine.

“When women, and especially women of color, run for office, they are subjected to a double standard that has nothing to do with their qualifications and everything to do with this country’s history of sexism and racism,” said Tina Tchen, president and CEO of Time’s Up Now.  

“It’s time for women to be judged on their merits — and for the media to take a critical look at their biased coverage.”

The report showed that discussion of Sen Harris’ ancestry dominated 36 per cent of the coverage surrounding her nomination, overshadowing her professional background and achievements at 31 per cent.

In contrast, under five percent of media reporting about then-Gov Pence and Sen Kaine related to the candidates’ ancestry or personal lives, the report said.

“This report demonstrates how our broken political discourse can derail the political ambitions of women, and particularly black women,” said Valerie Jarrett, former senior advisor to President Barack Obama and a member of the board of directors of Time’s Up Now.  

“These harmful words and actions matter, and we’re holding the media accountable.”

Sen Kamala Harris is set to take the debate stage on Wednesday night in Salt Lake City, with experts saying that Sen Harris will face sexism and racism at the debate.

"Can you imagine a woman on a debate stage behaving like Trump or Biden on Tuesday?”, Dr Lori Cox Han, professor of political science at Chapman University said in an interview with The Independent.

"There would have been a totally different reaction because there's a totally different standard. Even though when women see Harris get angry they say 'yeah we've always wanted to say that too,' some people will view her aggression as not being feminine."

The Time’s Up Now movement aims to create a society free of gender-based discrimination in the workplace and other professional environments.

The organisation commissioned the study from Edelman Data and Intelligence to analyse the media coverage, which included US top tier coverage from one week prior and two weeks following Sen Kamala’s nomination.

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