A great many African Americans – and of course Jamaicans, like Kamala Harris’s paternal ancestors – are descended from slave owners.
The whisper that my master was my father, may or may not be true; and, true or false, it is of but little consequence to my purpose whilst the fact remains, in all its glaring odiousness, that slaveholders have ordained, and by law established, that the children of slave women shall in all cases follow the condition of their mothers; and this is done too obviously to administer to their own lusts, and make a gratification of their wicked desires profitable as well as pleasurable; for by this cunning arrangement, the slaveholder, in cases not a few, sustains to his slaves the double relation of master and father. (Frederick Douglass)
D’Souza’s assertion derives from an account of the Harris family history given by Kamala Harris’s father, Donald Harris – you can read the relevant passage in full here. Some have described his claims as ‘boasting’, but the tone of his account seems neutral to me.
“My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave owner and founder of Brown’s Town) …
Without further information I’d probably assume a forced or coerced relationship – however D’Souza doesn’t seem even to have considered this possibility, given this tweet.
It’s particularly ironic – given the passage I quote above from Frederick Douglass, in which he discusses the rumour that his master was also his father – that D’Souza, interviewed on Fox News (where else), sternly cautions that Harris’s legacy owes more to the plantation itself than to Frederick Douglass.