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Why celebrities are declaring ‘We have her back’ about Kamala Harris

Kerry Washington, Julianne Moore, Reese Witherspoon, Debra Messing, Amy Schumer, Sarah Paulson and more celebrities are standing with Sen. Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s newly minted and historic running mate for the 2020 election.

The awareness campaign combating vicious attacks against Harris began even before the Democratic VP pick was announced Tuesday, and after Biden said he would select a woman to be his running mate. “Scandal” star Washington urged media to “do better” and actress Alyssa Milano called out the the New York Times and this newspaper earlier this week for using sexist headlines on opinion pieces about the VP search.

Advocacy groups, including Time’s Up, EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, Supermajority, NARAL and others, had already been mobilizing to proactively combat the numerous “-isms” that negatively impact women running for political office, according to NBC.

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“Just deal with the substance. Don’t talk about what she looks like,” said Valerie Jarrett, President Obama’s former senior advisor, on MSNBC this week, reclaiming the word “ambitious” as a positive trait used to describe both men and women in politics.

“This is a historic moment for our country — and a welcome step towards building a government that truly represents the people that it serves. But like many women in public service across party lines, Sen. Harris has been the subject of vicious attacks,” Tina Tchen, the president and CEO of Time’s Up Now, said in a statement Tuesday.

“In the face of sexist and racist attacks, we unequivocally have Harris’s back — and we have other women candidates’ backs, too. Through our ‘We Have Her Back’ campaign, we are calling on the media to stamp out the kind of unfair coverage, double standards, and coded language that have held women — and especially women of color — from positions of power, across party lines, for far too long.”

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Time’s Up Now bills itself as the nonpartisan and not-for-profit advocacy and political arm of Time’s Up, the Hollywood-backed movement that responded to the Harvey Weinstein scandal and #MeToo that erupted in 2017.

The organization’s We Have Her Back campaign is “an independent, nonpartisan, rapid-response movement of allied individuals and organizations to defend the unprecedented number of women candidates from sexist attacks and hold those who perpetuate these sexist and racist tropes accountable.”

The group also launched a petition Tuesday urging media to “keep sexist political attacks out” of their election coverage and said that it issued guidance to newsroom chiefs and political editors across the country demanding that they halt “ignorant, bad-faith attacks.”

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California Sen. Kamala Harris addition to the 2020 Democratic presidential ticket is more than just symbolism. She’s unafraid to take on bullies.

Though Time’s Up Now said it isn’t endorsing any candidates for elected office, the group and its allies are calling out unfair coverage and working to disrupt the narrative and rebuild the systems “that have taken away women’s power for far too long.”

Time’s Up Now cited several moments when Harris, a Black woman of Jamaican and Indian descent, has faced sexist and racist double standards and double binds that are often applied only to women in politics. The remarks mocked her ambition or focused on her appearance or clothing rather than her qualifications for office, the group said.

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In the meantime, the group certainly has its work cut out for it as President Donald Trump continues to foment his base with the same inflammatory language the advocacy groups are fighting against.

Moments after Harris was announced as Biden’s pick, the Trump campaign released political ads attacking the “phony” candidate as a member of the “radical left.” Then, in a Tuesday press briefing, the president characterized Harris as “nasty,” “meanest” and “horrible.” He also called her “disrespectful” to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his heated confirmation hearings and when she called out Biden on busing during the Democratic primary — insults that play into racist and sexist stereotypes about Black women.

Bette Midler, a vocal Trump critic, tweeted that “nasty” is the president’s “go-to insult for women.” Trump also has used the adjective to describe his former election opponent, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Incidentally, Trump previously donated to Harris’ reelection campaign for California attorney general — twice.


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