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‘If she can do it, I can do it as well’: Local Indian community inspired by Harris becoming VP

Taniya Patel
Posted at 7:45 AM, Jan 26, 2021

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Fourteen-year-old Taniya Patel knows how to make idli step by step. From fermenting the rice to making the batter to using a butterknife to scoop them out of the idli maker, she’s very attentive to her every move in making sure the popular Indian rice cakes come out well.

And, she thinks it’s really cool that Vice President Kamala Harris eats it and enjoys it just as much as she does.

“It’s amazing to know that we’re eating the same thing that they’re eating in the White House,” Patel said with a big smile.

Patel is one of the many people in the Indian and South Asian community inspired by Kamala Harris becoming the first vice president of Indian descent, her family said. Patel’s mother Sonal cried when it was announced that then president-elect Joe Biden and Harris won the election back in November.

“It’s relatable,” Patel said during an interview with Fox 17 on Sunday. “It also makes other kids and other teenagers be like ‘oh wait, I can do this too.’ Like ‘if she can do it, I can probably do it as well.’”

Harris was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father. Last Wednesday, Patel was at school watching the Inauguration and she remembers feeling “so so happy” seeing Harris sworn in.

“Because up to this day it’s only been people of the White heritage or like European descent or somebody there except for [former president Barack] Obama,” Patel said. “He wasn’t a woman so he didn’t exactly feel what a woman would feel or like a girl would feel. So, it’s different.”

Last Wednesday Harris also became the first woman to be the country’s VP. Patel said she admired Harris’ work ethic and perseverance. It reminded her of her own parents, who immigrated to America in 2004 and have since owned The India Market, a local grocery store selling products made in their native land.

“Many immigrants, especially my parents, like they were hardworking. That’s how I’m here today in this house, from their hard work,” Patel said. “So, her being there is also showing her parents' hardwork.”

Patel hopes that Harris' hardwork is something that everyone can admire. In the days leading up to the Election, she remembered a few classmates debating about who they wanted to win. She hopes now that Harris is in the White House that everyone can put their egos aside, she said, and applaud that Harris has broken so many barriers.

“She definitely went up the later. She’s Vice President now,” Patel said. “So her being president in a future year, I’d be happy to vote for her if I could.”