Fact Check: Photo Is NOT Kamala Harris With Her Parents And Is NOT Evidence She Is Not A Black American

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: Photo Is NOT Kamala Harris With Her Parents And Is NOT Evidence She Is Not A Black American Not Her Folks

Does a photograph of Kamala Harris with her "parents" prove she is not a "Black American"? No, that's not true. The man and woman standing with Harris in the photo are not her parents. The man is retired Silicon Valley executive Suneil Parulekar and the woman is his wife, Rohini. The image was captured at a fundraising gala in 2016. Lead Stories has previously debunked claims that the Democratic vice presidential candidate is not a "Black American."

The claim appeared as a meme in a post (archived here) shared on Facebook on August 11, 2020. A text message above the meme read "L O L........Kamala Pandering To B L M & ANTIFA..Playing the Race Card." The meme, which included photo of Harris with a man and a woman, read:


This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:

Facebook screenshot

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Wed Aug 12 18:05:26 2020 UTC)

The Parulekars' photo with Harris was from a 2016 event for the Pratham USA educational charity where Harris was the keynote speaker. The Parulekars are board members for the charity's Bay Area chapter in California.

The photo was published on the Pratham site and in the India-West newspaper when Harris was selected to the Senate in 2016:

Harris provided an undated photograph of her parents Donald and Shyamala G. Harris to the Mercury News in February 2020:

They are clearly not the people in the other photograph.

Her mother died in 2009, some seven years before photograph in the meme was taken. Shyamala Harris's obituary included a picture of her.

Kamala Harris' mother was the daughter of an Indian diplomat and she became a scientist. Her father is from Jamaica and became a professor at Stanford University.

"My mother understood very well she was raising two black daughters. She knew that her adopted homeland would see Maya and me as black girls, and she was determined to make sure we would grow into confident black women," Harris wrote about herself in her book "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.

Harris told the Los Angeles Times that as a child neighbors of her father wouldn't let their children play with her and her sister because they were Black.

On weekends, the girls would visit their father in Palo Alto, where he was an economics professor at Stanford University.
"The neighbors' kids were not allowed to play with us because we were black," Harris said. "We'd say, 'Why can't we play together?' 'My parents -- we can't play with you.' In Palo Alto. The home of Google."

Harris told the newspaper she had "the N-word used against me a number of times."

Questions of Harris' racial identity have followed her throughout her career, and Lead Stories has debunked claims including that because her heritage is Jamaican and Indian, she is not "an American Black."

As Joe Biden picked Harris to be his running mate on the Democratic ticket in 2020, accusations of her not being Black have increased.

Harris has also been attacked because her father says they were descendants of a slave owner in Jamaica.

Hey Democrats, you're gonna have a lot of explaining to do 🐰🕳

Posted by The Rabbit Hole on Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Harris' father said in a 2018 Jamaica Global article that he was descended from slave owner Hamilton Brown.

Here is what Donald Harris wrote:

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)."

Lead Stories has debunked other claims about Harris here:

Fake News: Kamala Harris Is An American Black & She Was In Second Integrated Class Of Her School

Fact Check: Kamala Harris Descended From A Slave Owner, But It's Not 'An Inconvenient Part Of Her History' Or A 'Deep, Dark Secret' That 'Could Come Back To Haunt Her'

Fact Check: Kamala Harris Has NOT Been Chosen (Yet) As Biden's Veep, She IS A Natural-Born U.S. Citizen And Is Eligible To Be President

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  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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