GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Sonal Patel was at home Saturday morning when her daughters, who were eating breakfast at the time, told her that presidential candidate Joe Biden and Senator Kamala Harris won the election.
Patel was speechless, she said. Her whole family was excited and when she went to work at her store India Market, all of her customers were happy as well.
“In Indian words Kamala means lotus, the goddess of Lakshmi. She has the power. We pray that she will bring wealth and happiness to our country,” Patel said during an interview with Fox 17. “Her name has a lot of meanings behind it and definitely she will prove that.”
Early Saturday afternoon the Associated Press declared Biden and Harris the winners of the election after voters flipped Pennsylvania from red to blue. Biden won 273 electoral votes compared to president Donald’s Trump 214. Bioden was named president-elect and Harris, was named vice-president-elect becoming the first South Asian woman to hold that position.
“Her mother is from India, which I am from India. And as an immigrant my heart is full to talk about because that’s the feeling of Indian people, that we struggle,” Patel said with tears in her eyes. “We come to the United States to give a better future for our kids, our family. Her mom sacrificed a lot and Kamala did a fantastic job, and gives hope to all the kids.”
Patel said Harris gives hope to her own daughters as well, teaching them that there’s no limit to what they can do.
“I have two daughters,” Patel said while crying. “I have no words that we have hope that my girls can dream to be vice presidents.”
Monica Sparks, who’s the chair of the Kent County Black Caucus and friend of Patel’s, said Harris is already having a major impact on the Black community as well. Her father was born in Jamaica, thus she becomes the first Black American to be named vice president-elect.
“I am so excited. The time has come,” Sparks said. “We have a lot of firsts here. So let’s talk about Kamala Harris first vice president female, Black and Asian American. We can’t be prouder at this moment.”
Over the last two months, Sparks and other volunteers with the caucus logged 560 hours of their personal time, encouraging people to vote. She believes it was the large Black voter turnout that helped not only Kent County and Michigan flip blue, but nationally helped Biden and Harris win the election.
According to multiple sources and exit polls, 87 percent of Black voters cast their ballots for Biden.
“Kamala Harris makes an excellent Vice President because of her stance and her willingness to tackle the tough issues,” Sparks said. “I know people had a problem with some of her voting record when she was in congress. People had issues when she was attorney general. This lady is amazing and she’s strong enough to state her case, her facts and continue on without being apologetic. You need people like that right now.”
Biden and Harris don’t officially take office until Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021. Until then, people will celebrate, Patel said, especially the Indian and South Asian communities.
Diwali is on November 14 and Harris’ win makes it all the more special, she said.
“This news will encourage us to celebrate more, with the great victory. Even in this pandemic, we’ll celebrate, happily and with joy,” Patel said. “Happy Diwali everyone.”