Dude. Is she, or isn’t she?
Then came the deniers. Harris was born in 1964, they noted, which is universally accepted as the last year of the baby boomer generation — and well, kids, rules are rules. (Some people insist Harris belongs to a group that straddles the boomers and the Gen Xers, called Generation Jones. But demographers mostly ignore this classification, and so, too, will we.)
A few questions, Madame Vice President:
Do you own, or have you ever owned/played with/had nightmares about, a Howdy Doody doll? (If yes: Boomer.)
Did you tune in to watch MTV play the first music video? (If yes: Gen Xer, obv.)
Do you remember living through Beatlemania? (Boomer)
Without looking it up, can you name at least three members of the Brat Pack? (Gen Xer)
Can you remember a time when TV channels signed off for the night? (Boomer)
If someone says “Psych!” Do you know what that means? (Gen Xer)
Harris declined to answer these questions when The Washington Post asked, and wouldn’t say which generation she identifies with.
So we’re forced to speculate based on available evidence. If you’ll indulge us, please direct your attention to the following exhibits.
Exhibit A: A photo of Harris in her early 20s staring into middle-distance with the collar of her black overcoat turned up to her ears. Her hair is cropped short, her eyes are skeptical, defiant. If anyone was ever ready to stick it to The Man, it is this young woman. Point: Gen Xer.
Exhibit B: Actor Keanu Reeves. He was born the same year as Harris and co-starred in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Point: Gen Xer.
Exhibit C: Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, was also born the same year as Harris. Johnson’s professed hobby is painting old wine boxes to look like busses. Point: Boomer.
Exhibit D: “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture,” by Douglas Coupland. Coupland coined the term “Generation X” with his 1991 novel about a trio of underemployed, disaffected friends living in the California desert. The book begins, “Back in the late 1970s, when I was fifteen years old . . . ”
You know who else would have been 15 years old in the late 1970s? Kamala Harris. Point: Gen Xer.
Exhibit E: Harris was 23 years old and a recent graduate of Howard University in 1988 when Spike Lee released “School Daze,” a quintessential look at the experiences of Generation X students at historically Black colleges and universities. Point: Gen Xer.
Exhibit F: Throughout the 2020 presidential campaign, and again on the night she and Biden declared victory, Harris was accompanied to the podium by the Mary J. Blige song, “Work That.” Blige is solidly Generation X, a soul singer of the hip-hop generation. If Harris were walking out to Stevie Wonder, that’d be a different story.
And then there are those Chucks. The sneakers themselves aren’t necessarily definitive: Before they became popular among skaters and grunge kids and other assorted Gen Xers, Chuck Taylor All Stars were a boomer basketball shoe. But forget about the sneakers themselves: Look at the way Harris walks in them. The way she bounces down the steps of an airplane onto the tarmac. How many boomers have that kind of cartilage left in their joints?
Case closed. With Vice President Harris, Generation X has reached the West Wing. Word up.
Vice President Kamala Harris: What you need to know
Turning point: Vice President Harris faces a critical moment as President Biden passes the halfway point of his term. If he seeks reelection as expected, she would be a central part of the campaign. If he steps aside, she would instantly move to center stage as Biden’s potential successor. But some Democrats are worried about Harris’s political strength.
Her career: Kamala Harris, a daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, made history as the nation’s first female vice president. Harris has seized on abortion rights as a key issue and sought to position herself as her party’s leading advocate on the issue. Here’s more background on Harris’s family, policies and career.