The Truths We Hold: Kamala Harris’s Incredible Journey

With former Vice President Joe Biden declared the winner of the presidency, Senator Kamala Harris has become America's first female, Black, and South Asian vice president-elect. She is the highest-ranking woman in the presidential line of succession in history, replacing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But more than that, Harris is a role model for every young woman in America, demonstrating courage, resilience, generosity, conviction, and ambition. These qualities, as well as her philosophy and aspirations, are illuminated in her latest political memoir The Truths We Hold: An American Journey. 

The 336-page book details Harris’s journey from an Oakland, California community to the Senate Chamber in Washington, D.C. In these pages, readers get a glimpse into the Vice President-elect’s happy and carefree days as the first child of two immigrants who threw themselves into the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and lit the fire of political activism and civic leadership in their daughter. Earlier this year, Harris posted on her Instagram, thanking her parents: “It’s because of them and the folks who also took to the streets to fight for justice that I am where I am…Change is possible.” The book does a great job detailing and emphasizing the impact of parents’ daily lessons on their children’s characters and perspectives. A simple lesson such as “being a good person means standing for something larger than yourself” can give a child a good starting point to imagine what their future might hold for them, as detailed in the first chapter, For The People.  

Beyond various anecdotes about civil rights, politics, and strong women who broke glass ceilings, the book also shines a light on the importance of cultural heritage. According to Harris in The Truths We Hold, “my mother, grandparents, aunts, and uncle instilled us with pride in our South Asian roots. Our classical Indian names harked back to our heritage, and we were raised with strong awareness and appreciation for Indian culture.” In a time of division, when many people are stressed by the aftermath of the presidential election, it is healing to read about and be reminded of cultural diversity—one reason that makes America so unique and powerful.      

Harris also mentions several policy debates in the ten chapters of the book. These policies range from health care, national security, and housing to gender and marriage equality. This might strike some readers as dutiful and cliché and others as informational and helpful; however, as the book is a political memoir, the inclusion of public policies is understandable as it serves the purpose of familiarizing the politician’s philosophy with the public. For example, Harris once said, “I love my country, and this is the moment in time that I feel a sense of responsibility to fight for the best of who we are.” This is not something someone just says out of duty. This is something everyone should say with pride and sincerity. For readers, it is important to read with optimism and subjectivity. 

The Truths We Hold: An American Journey is surely an inspiring read. There are many powerful lessons for young women throughout the book. And for the first time in history, millions of American women could look at a vice president-elect and see a part of themselves. Let us end this review with the lyrics of Mary J. Blige’s Work That, the music closing out Harris at the 2020 Democrat National Convention:  

 “There’s so many-a girls

 I hear you been running

 From the beautiful queen

 That you could be becoming …

 Read the book of my life

 And see I’ve overcome it.”