Kamala Harris Direct Descendant of One of Jamaica's Slave Owners?

Dinesh D'Souza stirred a hornet's nest by claiming that Kamala Harris is descended from Hamilton Brown, who owned 200 slaves

A shocking claim was made by American conservative author and commentator Dinesh D'Souza some days ago when he claimed, or, in his words, 'revealed,' that Kamala Harris, the Democratic Party's nominee for the post of Vice President, is a descendant of one of Jamaica's slave owners. This has, as expected, caused a storm, especially on social media.

The main source of this claim is an essay written by Harris' father, Donald J Harris. The essay was penned in 2018 and was published by Jamaica Global Online in January 2019. Titled 'Reflections of a Jamaican Father,' this write-up says that Donald is the descendant of an Irishman called Hamilton Brown who was a slave owner in Jamaica.

kamala harris
Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris Twitter

"My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (nee Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown's Town)," the essay reads.

D'Souza amplified this information in a tweet: "The privilege Kamala Harris has enjoyed throughout her life was built on the backs of 200 black slaves, forced to work on 5 plantations by her ancestor Hamilton Brown. I've yet to hear any sympathy from the Left for these black lives, which evidently don't matter at all."

Dinesh D'Souza
Dinesh D'Souza amplified the claim of Kamala Harris' father Twitter

Alternate claims

However, several people have questioned the validity of the claims made by D'Souza and Kamala's father. According to PolitiFact website, Hamilton Brown was indeed listed as a slave owner in Jamaica and an attorney by Centre for the Study of the Legacies of British Slave-ownership. There was also a document in the UK National Archives which stated that Brown was the owner of 121 slaves in 1826.

However, the website also says that the family tree of Brown's descendants on FamilySearch database is far from reliable. It has discrepancies and inconsistencies which make it hard to rely upon. Also, the tree on the database is being edited constantly which further compromises the integrity of the information.

But PolitiFact does concede that the tree does show a possible direct descent for Kamala Harris from Brown but there is lack of corroborating evidence and also other records which suggest otherwise.

Divided Opinion

Like everything else in the USA, even this claim has become a subject of intense differences of opinion along ideological lines. Right-wingers are salivating at this 'revelation' and arguing that at a time when even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson's statues have been demolished for being slave owners, the claim that Kamala Harris is a good representative of the African-American community gets deflated.

The left, on the other hand, sees this as a cheap tactic by a rare man of color in the conservative camp to attack Harris. Whether this issue plays a part in the upcoming election's results remains to be seen.