Kamala Harris's Family Owned Slaves!

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Kamala Harris's Family Owned Slaves!!!

As admitted by her father, Donald, in a writing that he published in 2018-2019

My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town)

(26 Sep 2018). "Reflections of a Jamaican Father"., as published in "Kamala Harris' Jamaican Heritage". Jamaica Global Online. 13 Jan 2019.

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Donald J. Harris is the father of Kamala Harris, U.S. Senator from California and the 2020 Democratic nominee for vice president,

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Reflections of a Jamaican Father

By Donald J. Harris

As a child growing up in Jamaica, I often heard it said, by my parents and family friends: “memba whe yu cum fram”. 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. Maya came two years later and had the advantage of an older sibling as mentor. It is for them to say truthfully now, not me, what if anything of value they carried from that early experience into adulthood. My one big regret is that they did not come to know very well the two most influential women in my life: “Miss Chrishy” and “Miss Iris” (as everybody called them). This is, in many ways, a story about these women and the heritage they gave us.

My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town)

and to my maternal grandmother Miss Iris (née Iris Finegan, farmer and educator, from Aenon Town and Inverness, ancestry unknown to me). The Harris name comes from my paternal grandfather Joseph Alexander Harris, land-owner and agricultural ‘produce’ exporter (mostly pimento or all-spice), who died in 1936 two years before I was born and is buried in the church yard of the magnificent Anglican Church which Hamilton Brown built in Brown’s Town (and where, as a child, I learned the catechism, was baptized and confirmed, and served as an acolyte).

Both of my grandmothers had the strongest influence on my early upbringing(“not to exclude, of course, the influence of my dear mother”Miss Beryl” and loving father “Maas Oscar”).

Miss Chrishy was the disciplinarian, reserved and stern in look, firm with ‘the strap’, but capable of the most endearing and genuine acts of love, affection, and care.

Miss Chrishy dressed up in her usual finery, standing in front of the home at Orange Hill, St Ann parish where I spent my early years

She sparked my interest in economics and politics simply by my observing and listening to her in her daily routine.

She owned and operated the popular ‘dry-goods store’ on the busy main street leading away from the famous market in the centre of Brown’s Town. Every day after school, I would go to her shop to wait for the drive home to Orange Hill after she closed the shop. It was here that she was in her groove, while engaged in lively and sometimes intense conversation with all who came into the shop about issues of the day.

Business was front and centre for her, a profession and a family tradition that she embodied and carried with purpose, commitment, pride, and dignity (next to her devotion to the church that, as she often said, her ancestor built). She never paid much attention to the business of the farm at Orange Hill. Her sons took care of that side of the family business. Her constant focus was on issues that affected her business of buying and selling imported ‘dry goods’ as well as the cost of living, issues that required understanding and keeping up with the news – a task which she pursued with gusto. She was also fully in charge of ‘domestic affairs’ in our home and, of course, had raised eight children of her own at an earlier age.

There was a daily diet of politics as well. She was a great admirer of ‘Busta’ (Sir William Alexander Bustamante, then Chief Minister in the colonial government and leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). She claimed, with conviction and pride, to be a “Labourite” (as members of the JLP were called) and for the interesting reason that, as she argued, “labour is at the heart of everything in life”. Little did I know then, what I learned later in studying economics, that my grandmother was espousing her independently discovered version of a Labour Theory of Value!

Her philanthropic side shone through every Easter and Christmas when she had my sister Enid and me package bun and cheese (a favourite Jamaican Easter fare) and other goodies in little boxes that we carried and delivered to families living in the area around our home.

She died in 1951 at the age of 62. Her departure left me, then only fourteen, with a deep sense of sadness and loss.

Miss Iris, mother of eight children too, was the sweetest and gentlest person one could meet, but underneath it was a tough farming woman who ran the cane farm at Thatch Walk (near Aenon Town) jointly owned with her husband “Mr Christie”. She was always ready to go to church on Sunday to preach and teach about the “Revelations” she saw approaching the world at that time (during and after World War II) in accord with the Bible.

I spent summers with her, roaming around the cane field, fascinated by the mechanical operation of cane ‘juicing’ by the old method (a wooden pole extended out from the grinding machine and tied to a mule walking round and round to grind the cane), and eager to drink a cup of the juice caught directly from the juice flowing into the vat to be boiled and crystallized as ‘raw sugar’. No Coke or Pepsi could beat the taste of that fresh cane juice!

It was a joy and a learning experience for me to hang out with the workers on the cane farm, see them wield a ‘cutlass’ (the machete) with such flourish and finesse, listen to their stories of exploits (some too x-rated for me to repeat), and sit with them as they prepared their meal by putting everything in one big ‘Dutch’ pot, cooking it over an open fire in the field and serving it out on a big banana leaf for all of us to eat sitting there.

Looking back now I can say, with certainty and all due credit to Miss Iris, that it was this early intimate exposure to operation of the sugar industry at the local level of small-scale production with family labour and free wage-labour, coupled with my growing curiosity about how these things came to be, that led me, once I started reading about the history of Jamaica, to a closer study of the sugar industry. I came then to understand its origin as a system of global production and commerce, based on slave labour, with Jamaica as a key component of that system from its very start.

Miss Iris died in 1981 at the grand old age of 93 and I grieved over the loss of someone so dear and close to me. She is shown here in photo (taken by me in 1966), just back from church, proudly holding in her lap little Kamala, and confident in her firm prediction even then of the future achievements of her great-granddaughter (after giving her ‘blessings’ by making a cross with her finger on the child’s forehead).

Kamala Harris Father Donald 2020 Presidential Campaign

Miss Iris with great Granddaughter Kamala

Hamilton Brown (1776 – 18 September 1843) was an Irish sugar planter and slave owner in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, which he represented in the House of Assembly of Jamaica for 22 years. He gave his name to Hamilton Town in the parish of St Ann, now Brown's Town, which he founded.

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He gave his name to Brown's Town, originally known as Hamilton Town, in St Ann, which he founded,[3][6] and in 1805 he paid for the construction of the original St Mark's Anglican Church in Brown's Town.[7]

He was a member of the House of Assembly of Jamaica in 1820[8] and represented Saint Ann Parish in that assembly for 22 years.[6] In 1832, he met Henry Whiteley on his trip to Jamaica to whom he argued that Jamaican slaves were better off than the poor of England and therefore the British government should not interfere with the way the Jamaican planters managed their slaves; Whiteley went on to witness harsh and arbitrary whipping of slaves at the plantations that he visited during his stay.[9]

Slaves throughout the British Empire were emancipated in 1833 by the Slavery Abolition Act, and Brown received a lot of compensation in his capacity as trustee, receiver, executor and awardee on a number of estates in Jamaica. He successfully claimed compensation for over 10,000 slaves, to the tune of about £20,000.[10]

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