October 27, 2021

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Kamala Harris Will Make History. So Will Her ‘Big, Blended’ Family. – The New York Times

2 min read

“It’s striking,” said Ralph Richard Banks, a law professor at Stanford who has written about race, gender and family patterns. “In some ways they are at the frontier of different aspects of American families and how they’re changing.”

Some might say they are reflective of where Americans already are. Today, the number of couples who are in an interracial marriage is around one in six, a figure that, along with the number of interfaith marriages, has been increasing since 1967, according to Pew.

Ms. Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, was raised with both Christian and Hindu practices, while her husband, who is white, grew up attending Jewish summer camp. (At their wedding, Ms. Harris took part in the Jewish ritual of smashing a glass.)

She was in her 40s when they married; older than the median age of first marriage for women in this country, though that number continues to rise.

Mr. Emhoff was divorced, with two children from his previous marriage, making his kids among the one in four who do not live with both biological parents, according to the Census Bureau. Ms. Harris did not have children. Many Americans do not, as fertility rates have reached a record low. She has often said that being “Momala” to her stepchildren is the role “that means the most” to her.

“People have more choices,” Professor Banks said. “That’s a society-wide change, but it’s often not as visible in positions of power.”

In her acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August, Ms. Harris spoke about her mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, an immigrant who came to California as a teenager with dreams of becoming a cancer researcher, and raised Kamala and her sister, Maya, after she and their father divorced. For most of Ms. Harris’s life, it was the three of them. When Maya became pregnant at 17 with her daughter, Meena, it became four.

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