“I Am Speaking”: Kamala Harris Being Interrupted by Mike Pence is Every Woman in a Meeting


“I Am Speaking”: Kamala Harris Being Interrupted by Mike Pence is Every Woman in a Meeting

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

A week ago, the US presidential debate between president Donald Trump and his challenger Joe Biden ended in chaos, as the two men traded constant barbs — often while the other was speaking — leading Biden to at one point ask Trump to “shut up”. Last night, during the vice-presidential debate, incumbent Vice President Mike Pence tried to do something similar to his challenger Kamala Harris. But rather than allow her point to be derailed, Harris became an instant icon on social media, when she raised her hand, and said firmly, “Mr Vice-President, I am speaking.”

The two candidates were discussing coronavirus at the time. Senator Harris was in the process of criticising the US administration’s failure in dealing with the pandemic, when Pence, who is in charge of the coronavirus task force, attempted to “weigh in”.

Once he was chastised by his opponent, however, he stayed quiet for the next 15 seconds while Harris finished her point. But that was far from the end of it.

Through the debate, Harris said the words, “I am speaking” at least four times, turning her into a darling of every woman who has been interrupted by a man at some point in their lives (ie, every single of them).

Soon the phrase began to trend on Twitter. Many hoped that the words would serve as an example for young women, who often have to deal with such interruptions by men, especially in professional settings.

The phrase was so popular among women on the internet that, just minutes after the debate, it had started appearing on t-shirts, hoodies and mugs on online stores.

According to CBS news tally, Pence interrupted Harris twice as many times – 10 times as compared to Harris’s five. While Harris spoke about healthcare, the VP tried to interrupt her again. “He interrupted me, and I’d like to just finish, please,” the Democratc vice presidential nominee said when she was told her allotted time was ending.

Compared to the presidential debate from last week, however, this debate was a lot calmer and the two vice presidential candidates were both much more polite than Trump and Biden. Over 90 minutes the candidates spoke about several topics, including coronavirus, the economy, foreign policy, race and police reform.

Before the debate, Kamala Harris was hailed for making history as the first Black and South Asian woman to participate in a general election debate. However, after it, she will probably be remembered more for her famous words: “I am speaking”.