According to the Squad, the label “woman of color” or “person of color” is not binary. There are degrees of colorness that must be recognized going forward. Kamala Harris, unfortunately, is deemed to be only a 1/3rd woman of color. Former president Obama, by contrast, is a 5/6th person of color. Squad member Rashida Tlaib indicated that Harris is good enough for this electoral cycle, but the next woman of color on a presidential ticket has to be more than a 50% woman of color to expect support from progressives.
What’s the formula to determine how much someone is a person of color? According to Tlaib, the exact formula is still being worked out, but in Harris’ case, there was a three-point scale based on appearance, parentage, and commitment to color as evidenced by the colorness of one’s spouse or significant other.
Harris got 1/1 points for appearing to be a woman of color. She got ¼ point for her parentage (Her father—Jamaican was 1; her mother is Asian and that’s a -.5, unless one is from Pakistan or Bangladesh, in which case they are considered persons of color. This averages out to ¼). She lost ¼ point for her commitment to colorness. Harris’ husband is Jewish, so she was docked ¼ point. Had he been Asian, she would have been docked ½ point. Had he been white, but not Jewish, she would not have been docked any points, and had he been a person of color, she would have gotten 1 point.
That’s a little complicated, but there’s really only two things to remember: First, Harris got only 1 out of 3 points total, and that’s why she’s a 1/3rd person of color; second, that won’t be good enough next time around; and third, colorness is complex.