Reflections on the Significance of the Election of Kamala Harris

In a powerful Speaker Series on January 15, the Tandem community paused to reflect on the significance of Kamala Harris becoming our first-ever black, South Asian, female vice president. Tandem community members including parents, students, past parents, alumni and faculty were invited to contribute their insights and reflections using the inspiration of the “Windows and Mirrors” curricular frame from SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity). The organizers of this Speaker Series, Head of School Whitney Thompson, Director of Diversity Gordon Fields, Director of Philanthropy Laura Allen, US Dean Jocelyn Camarata, and history teacher Jason Farr, wanted to create a space to recognise the significance of Kamala Harris’ election at this time in our shared history. Together, they wanted to acknowledge VPE Harris’ role as both a mirror to some who see a connection between themselves and Ms. Harris, and as a window to others who may now see a new perspective as they observe someone unlike themselves in a leadership role and creating new public policy.

The hour-long, all-school online event was filled with strong and passionate voices and included a panel of Tandem community members who shared their thoughts and perspectives: current Tandem family, the Bostons - children’s book author Marc, his wife Rachael, and their daughters, Marley (TFS '25), Delaney (TFS '26) and Journey (TFS '28); alum Emily Dean-McKinney (TFS '12), who is in politics and worked for the Harris campaign in 2018; parent Nick Winter, professor of political science; alum Tori Carter-Johnston (TFS '18), current student at Howard University (where Kamala Harris is an alum); and Laura Allen, Tandem's Director of Philanthropy and event moderator. The program featured a compilation of wonderful video and written testimonials submitted by TFS community members, including current parents, students, alums, even future students. Some of the main takeaways were that representation matters, that stepping into literal and metaphorical spaces historically inaccessible to women and people of color matters, that historically black colleges and universities should be better recognized as the powerful institutions they currently are and historically have been, and having your voice heard and your perspective changed matters. Many thanks to every person who contributed to the honesty, power, and hope shared; so much gratitude has been expressed for what was spoken. This conversation will be built upon in future programs and classes, and we will all look at Wednesday’s inauguration with some deepened perspective, both historic and personal.