Kamala Harris Mocked for ‘Cringe’ Attempt to Appeal to Black Voters at BET Awards

By: Georgia | Published: Jul 09, 2024

Elon Musk didn’t hold back on his critique of a BET Awards video featuring Vice President Kamala Harris. 

Musk described the vice president’s appearance—where she dropped references to rappers Kendrick Lamar and Drake—as “toenail curling level of cringe.”

Harris and Henson's Howard University Connection

In the video, Kamala Harris and host Taraji P. Henson, both proud Howard University alumni, discussed pressing political matters. 

A historic building at Howard University, showing intricate brickwork and a large arched entrance

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Their conversation was not just a casual chat but a deep dive into the current political climate as the presidential election looms.


Taraji's Concerns Voiced to VP Harris

During their discussion, Taraji P. Henson expressed her worries about the upcoming election, focusing on women’s rights and the Supreme Court. 

Actress Taraji P. Henson with a serious expression, wearing a white top at a public event

Source: Wikimedia Commons

She asked Harris, “Our basic freedoms are being tested, Madam VP. What are you hearing out there?”

Harris's Street-Level Insights

Responding to Henson’s concerns, Vice President Harris acknowledged the gravity of the issues at hand with her reply, “Yeah, girl I’m out here in these streets. And let me tell you, you’re right, Taraji. There is so much at stake in this moment.” 

Vice President Kamala Harris smiling while sitting at her desk in an office, with the Presidential seal in the background

Source: KamalaHarris/X

She emphasized the widespread belief in freedom and equality among the majority, highlighting the contrast with extremist views.

Rap References Make Waves

Harris tied in Kendrick Lamar’s track “They Not Like Us,” relating the rap feud’s energy to the current political divide. 

Kendrick Lamar performing live on stage, wearing a plaid shirt and appearing mid-performance

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This move, however, was met with mixed reactions from the audience and critics alike.

Journalistic Reactions and Defense

The video, shared on social media by journalist Alex Berenson, received a spectrum of responses.

Kamala Harris sitting at her desk in the Vice Presidential office, actively engaging with papers in front of her

Source: Wikimedia Commons

While Berenson himself said, “This is so bad…”, others jumped to defend Harris, acknowledging the importance of her message in the election context.


A Call for Voter Registration

Amid the criticisms, Harris made a poignant call to action, urging everyone to register to vote. 

"Vote Here" sign with a red arrow pointing to the left, featuring American flags, set against a blurred street background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Her message aimed to mobilize support and emphasize the stakes involved in the upcoming election.


The Fight for Fundamental Freedoms

Harris didn’t shy away from listing the freedoms under threat—voting rights, gun safety, and women’s rights to bodily autonomy. 

Vice President Kamala Harris and a speaker seated at a "Reproductive Freedom" event, both smiling and engaged in conversation, with a Biden Harris banner in the background

Source: KamalaHarris/X

She highlighted the severity of the attack on these fundamental rights.


Harris as a Potential Presidential Candidate

A new poll indicates Harris is a frontrunner to replace President Joe Biden if he opts out of the re-election race. 

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris standing together at a podium, smiling during an outdoor event at the White House

Source: KamalaHarris/X

Her popularity among Democrats seems to be holding strong despite various challenges.


Other Democratic Contenders

Vice President Kamala Harris currently leads the field as the top choice among Democrats to potentially replace President Joe Biden, should he decide not to run for reelection. 

California Governor Gavin Newsom smiling in a formal blue suit at an outdoor event, with blurred natural scenery in the background

Source: Wikimedia Commons

However, other notable Democrats are also garnering significant support for the presidential nomination. California Governor Gavin Newsom and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg are seen as strong contenders, each having a substantial base of supporters.


Voter Uncertainty and Diversity of Opinion

The poll revealed that a notable percentage of Democrats are undecided or prefer a candidate not listed in the survey. 

A person walking past a "Vote Here" sign on a grassy lawn, pointing towards the voting location

Source: Wikimedia Commons

This shows a diverse range of opinions within the party about who could best lead.


The Final Countdown to the Election

As the election approaches, the Democratic Party and its voters are weighing their options carefully. 

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris in a private conversation inside the White House, both dressed formally and appearing cheerful

Source: KamalaHarris/X

The choice they make could significantly influence the political landscape of the United States in the coming years.


Remaining Focused

In public, Harris is trying to stay out of the controversy and remain focused on her party’s goal of defeating Donald Trump in the November election.

A close-up image of Donald Trump with two mics in front of him.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

“It’s simple: Donald Trump is a threat to our democracy and fundamental freedoms. With your vote, we will stop him this November,” Harris wrote in a recent X post.


Not the First Time

This is not the first incident where Kamala Harris has given cringe vibes to political observers. During the recent Pride month holiday celebrating LGBT people, Harris produced a video with the Queer Eye cast that had many online cringing.

Promotional image featuring Vice President Kamala Harris laughing with a member of the Queer Eye cast, with text overlay saying "QUEER EYE visits THE WHITE HOUSE."

Source: VP/X

“It’s officially DAY 0 of Kamala not killing everyone with cringe, again,” said a user in response to the video of Harris.


Mamala Harris

Another popular incident many online felt cringe-inducing was Harris’ interview with Drew Barrymore.

The Vice Presidential portrait of Kamala Harris. The American flag is behind her.

Lawrence Jackson/Wikimedia Commons

During the May interview, Barrymore asked Kamala if she would be the “mamala” of the country.


Scripted Politician

Harris receives criticism online for the clips she posts as part of her political actions, which are often perceived as scripted and phony.

A man sat at a table filling out some paper forms with a pen.

Source: Scott Graham/Unsplash

“Kamala Harris always comes across as so fake, cringe and forced. This scripted conversation with actress Taraji Henson is no exception, and comes across as something you’d see on Sesame Street. #BidenHarris2024,” said an X user.


Appealing to Black Voters

Another famous gaffe for Harris happened during the 2020 election cycle. She went on a podcast and awkwardly explained her marijuana usage in college, which some found hypocritical given her former role as an attorney general.

A person slides an envelope into a ballot box.

Source: Element 5/Unsplash

“Remember when Kamala Harris went on ‘The Breakfast Club’ and laughed about the fact she smoked cannabis in college — the same “crime” for which she sent more than 1,500 people to prison?” said an X user.


Why Can’t Harris Land With Voters?

It seems that many things Kamala Harris does are met with accusations of cringe from her critics online.

Kamala Harris arrives at the United States Capitol.

Source: Office of Vice President of the United States/Wikimedia

Political commentator Brad Polumbo has blamed this disconnect on Harris being “cringe personified,” suggesting that her inability to seem authentic most of the time makes her a terrible politician.


Support for Harris

A favorability poll last year of 1,000 black voters across the country found Harris has struggling approval among the younger demographic.

Vice President Kamala Harris smiling and speaking at a podium with an American flag backdrop during a public address

Source: KamalaHarris/X

In the category of those 18-34, Harris only had an approval rating of 37%, which is 2 points lower than Joe Biden and 40 points lower than Barrack Obama among Black voters.


Effort to Reach Black Supporters

This year ahead of the election, Harris has stepped up efforts to appeal to Black voters after polling showed that support for her and Biden’s re-election bid had been losing support.

Joe Biden speaking into a microphone in front of an American flag.

Source: Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

“We all know Black entrepreneurs do not lack for ideas or ambition but often lack the capital that is necessary to turn an idea into a thriving business, to invest in inventory, hire employees, to scale up,” Harris said in May after the White House rolled out $100 million in federal funds for auto parts manufacturers.


Gallup Poll

A poll by Gallup released in February found that Democrats have been losing ground with Black and Hispanic voters compared to the previous election cycle.

A Democrat and Republican logo on a white background.

Source: Kelly Sikkema/Unsplash

Democrats have experienced an 11-point decrease in party affiliation from Black voters since 2020.


Why are Black Voters Disappointed With Democrats?

Black voters, who have historically voted for the Democrat party in overwhelming numbers are starting to sour on the party in recent election cycles. There are a growing number of black voters who feel they don’t have a home in either major political party.

President Joe Biden speaking at a podium with the Presidential Seal, inside the White House

Source: POTUS/X

“I’m not voting for Trump, but I’m not excited about voting for Biden,” said college Senior Olivia Jones last month. “None of my close friends are excited about either candidate. It’s a universal feeling…I guess you can call us double haters.”


Biden’s Previous Support

In the 2020 election, Biden managed to capture 92% of the Black vote while his opponent Donald Trump only ended up with 8% of this demographic.

President Joe Biden speaking at an outdoor podium, wearing sunglasses and a blue suit

Source: POTUS/X

The election was tight, with key states Biden needed for victory only won by tens of thousands of votes. If he ends up losing too much support from Black voters, it could cost him the reelection.


Shrinking Support

A Pew Research report in May found that the breakdown of Black voters who lean Democrat had shrunken to 83 percent.

Joe Biden holds a pen while he signs an executive order.

Source: Adam Shultz/Wikimedia

Black voters are overall very critical of Trump, but if the election were held today, 18 percent of Black voters said they would vote for or lean towards voting Trump.