Fact check: Image purportedly of Kamala Harris’s birth certificate does not show she was identified as “Caucasian”

Social media users are circulating posts making the unsubstantiated claim that California Senator Kamala Harris, recently chosen to be Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate, was identified as “Caucasian” on her birth certificate by her parents.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The posts are accompanied by an image purportedly of Harris’s birth certificate. Reuters has contacted Harris to ask whether this image is an authentic reproduction of her birth certificate, and this check will be updated accordingly. Regardless of authenticity, the claim that this image proves that Harris’ birth certificate identifies her as “Caucasian” is false.

Examples of the claim are visible here , here and here .

The image of the birth certificate shows a red circle around the portion of the certificate that would ostensibly prove the claim. A closer look at the image shows that this section indicates the “color or race of the mother,” listed as “Caucasian.” A few lines beneath it, the “color or race of the father,” is listed as “Jamaican.”

The image of the certificate does not appear to specify Kamala Harris’ race, contrary to the posts’ claim.

The senator’s late mother, Shyamala Gopalan, was Tamil Indian-American. Gopalan graduated from the University of Delhi and then received a PhD in nutrition and endocrinology from UC Berkeley, ( here ).

Harris’ father, Donald Harris, immigrated to the U.S. from Jamaica in 1964 to pursue a doctorate degree in economics at the University of California, Berkeley, ( here ).

Jamaica’s population largely consists of those descended from enslaved Africans brought by the English to work the island’s sugar estates, ( here ). As of 2012, 90% of Jamaicans were of African origin, ( here ).

Until the landmark 1967 Supreme Court case ruling, Loving v. Virginia, a person was considered white “only if they had ‘no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian.’” ( here ).

Birth certificates and associated data collection have been revised over the years, ( ). Prior to 1989, if parents were not of the same race, a child's race was tabulated as the race of the non-white parent. If neither parent was white, the child’s race was assigned as the race of the father, with exception to Hawaiian parents, ( here ).

Reuters previously debunked similar claims related to Kamala Harris’s background and ancestry ( here ).


False. Image purportedly of Kamala Harris’s birth certificate does not identify her as “Caucasian.”

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts here .