Aybala Turkarslan is a high school junior from Seattle, Washington. She recently founded publishYOUth—an international online service connecting youth writers to publication and competition opportunities—after noticing the difficulty for youth writers in finding publishing opportunities in an applicable, affordable, and organized manner. As a young writer herself, Aybala enjoys poetry, fiction, and essay writing. Her work has been recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, the Ringling College of Art & Design, and the INS Essay Contest Top 15 for her essay on neuromarketing in politics. Outside of writing she is passionate about social change and entrepreneurship, as well as sunshine and Turkish dramedies.
Kamala Harris’ name has been at the forefront of all news outlets over the past month as it was announced that she would be Democratic presidential candidate, Joe Biden’s running mate. There is no denying that this is a historic moment as she is the first African-American and South Asian female to be in this position. Nevertheless, this historic moment was met with opposition on all fronts given her track record as California’s attorney general. This component of the conversation is a testament to the flaws within electoral politics as we are forced to be complacent with the lesser of two evils. By idolizing her as someone who broke the glass ceiling, we perpetuate a narrative that allows the general public to excuse all of her wrongdoings during her time as attorney general. As many folks on social media claim to be progressive, we cannot claim that title if we fail to call out the wrongdoings even within the party that we support. For there to be any progressive future, we must center our conversations on how we can empower our communities and that includes accountability.
Harris’ track record is not necessarily squeaky clean as progressive media and celebrities have portrayed her to be. She has made deliberate decisions that would impact communities of color. In 2011, Harris supported legislation that would prosecute parents if their children are continuously missing school. There were concerns that this would disproportionately impact low-income, communities of color. Nevertheless, she advocated for this bill and claimed that it was successful in San Francisco (Hing, 2011, para. 3). She cannot claim to be an advocate for communities of color if she enforces a system that criminalizes poverty and families who have their own obligations.
Leftists and several candidates during the Democratic debates have pointed out Harris’ complicity in the mass incarceration of Black and Brown folks. She has consistently stood on the side of the oppressor as she has interfered with cases that would keep Black and Brown folks in prison. An example of this involves the case of a death row inmate, Kevin Copper. The trial was “marred by racism and misconduct” and Harris tried to stop him from “getting a DNA test to prove his innocence. It wasn’t until this act of injustice was broadcasted to the rest of the nation that Harris allowed the DNA test to be performed (S.A. Miller The Washington Times, 2019, para. 28). This is only one example in a long list of major errors made during her time as attorney general. Harris is not an exception to the list of politicians who have masked their mistakes with their “progressive reforms.” Others may argue that individuals are able to change their stances and perspectives on specific issues. While I do believe this to be true, there needs to be a level of acknowledgment and accountability that demonstrates this personal growth. She has continuously changed the narrative when one criticizes her about the issue and diverts the conversation to discuss her accomplishments.
As a student activist, I recognize the importance of voting and making sure that folks head to the polls. I encourage folks to head to the polls and participate in our democratic process. However, I am also someone who personally dislikes electoral politics. The “settle for Biden” campaign that is evident on social media reinforces the flaws of electoral politics. Especially the white folks who amplify this mantra, please do not harass BIPOC folks who choose not to vote because we deserve better. I look forward to the day where we do not have to choose between the lesser of two evils because our communities have suffered enough.
Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.
Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.
We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.
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We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.