Kamala Harris is selling “That Little Girl Was Me” T-shirts hooked to her explosive desegregation comments at the Democratic debate on Thursday night. But the merchandise is being perceived by some as a cheap move.
The California senator confronted former vice president Joe Biden on Thursday night for his “civil” relationship with late senators James Eastland and Herman Talmadge, who were both segregationists. “Well guess what? At least there was some civility,” Biden reportedly said last week of his working relationship with the men. “We got things done. We didn’t agree on much of anything. We got things done. We got it finished. But today, you look at the other side and you’re the enemy. Not the opposition, the enemy. We don’t talk to each other anymore.”
But Harris told Biden at the debate, “Vice President Biden, I do not believe you are a racist. I also believe—and it’s personal…it was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. It was not only that, but you also worked with them to oppose busing.”
She said, “And you know, there was a little girl in California who was a part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me. So I will tell you that, on this subject, it cannot be an intellectual debate among Democrats. We have to take it seriously.”
On Friday morning, Harris’s campaign website was selling a black T-shirt with an imprint of the candidate as a school girl (ranging in price from $29.99 to $32.99). But the move came off to some – including Harris’s followers – as tacky.
“Hmmmm man I was like so about her at the debate tonight and everything felt and seemed so authentic and then I come on here and she already has this t-shirt ready to sell,” wrote an Instagrammer. “This just made me mad uncomfortable. Like I legit just second guessed wanting to vote for her after seeing this lol.”
Another commenter agreed. “Kamala you should have waited at least a few days lol. WAY too soon. It makes your sentiment seem orchestrated. Come on Harris team!”
Others said Harris should pace her success and that the T-shirt was too expensive. “Merch already? That was quick…” and “Kamala, you’re gonna make me broke.”
A person wrote that the move diminished Harris’s argument. ”Kamala—commercializing what I (and probably many others) believed to be a beautifully emotional/off the cuff comment to Joe Biden so soon afterwards makes your thoughtful words seem hollow and calculated. Please don’t give anyone reason to believe you’re disingenuous!! Please do better than this.”
However, Harris will probably have some buyers — “Or her team is sharing the emotions of last night,” wrote a follower. “Her statement is timely in talks about race. Jim Crow wasn’t that long ago. Powerful photo and T-shirt.”