The Truths We Hold: What Kamala Harris’s memoir can tell us about her Vice Presidency

The daughter of immigrants has been inaugurated as the first female Vice President in American history. What can we glean about her future from her memoir, The Truths We Hold?

Kamala Harris attends her inauguration. Image: Getty
Kamala Harris attends her inauguration. Image: Getty

"This moment embodies our character as a nation, it demonstrates who we are. Even in dark times, we not only dream, we do," Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the United States hours after the inauguration of Joe Biden on Wednesday.

It was a historic moment for America: Harris is the first black and first Asian-American US vice-president.

She's also an author. In 2019, she released The Truths We Hold: An American Journey (released in paperback in the UK in Janaury), a memoir that details her story as a Jamaican-Indian daughter of immigrants to the path to the White House.

Truth is something that has long been part of Harris’s remit: as a lawyer and, later, California’s Attorney General, her career has existed in the pursuit of it. 

“You chose hope and unity, decency, science, and, yes, truth,” she told the cheering crowds in Wilmington, Delaware, in November as news of Joe Biden’s election victory was made official.

While the book opens on the eve of the 2016 election – the moment, she later said, that inspired her to write it, having “really felt a more urgent need to tell people what we’re fighting for” – the book nevertheless spans the 58-year-old’s life so far: the first date with Douglas Emhoff, whom she would go on to marry; her initial failure and subsequent success in sitting the bar exam; the behaviour ingrained in her by her parents to minimise the experience of racial prejudice.

But The Truths We Hold is also a good primer on Harris’s take on policy and US history. Immigration, economy, national security and that other major epidemic in America, the opioid crisis, are all reckoned with through a combination of Harris’s professional experience and personal compassion. “Almost everything I’ve done professionally has been motivated by some experience I’ve been exposed to,” Harris told the New York Times in 2019, which gives some indication of what she will be like as Vice President in the months and years to come.

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