Episode 4: Kamala Harris- Show Notes

Its our fourth episode, and we are starting to get things together. We have our audio issues sorted out. Still a bit nervous, but so excited to talk about Kamala Harris, and frankly a lot about Kamala Harris’ mom. Here’s what’s in the show:

  • The sweet story of Michael Gardner, a single dad who sews fun fashion for his daughter and is inspiring others. 00:27
  • The love of a mom that prepared Kamala Harris to become the first female and first Black/Indian Vice President of the United States. 02:40
  • The breast cancer breakthrough by scientist Judit Giró Benet, who has developed a cost-effective at-home breast cancer detection kit. 23:09
  • Total Episode Run-Time 29:00


Amy introduces us to Michael Gardner, a single father who is getting attention for the sewing designs he made for his daughter during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gardner started sewing clothes for his daughter, Ava, when she was 3 as a way to save money and show his love for his daughter. Gardner lost his job in March of 2020 due to COVID layoffs. Faced with a lot of extra time, Gardner started to make more clothes for his daughter, repurposing women’s clothing he would get at thrift shops. He started doing tutorials on YouTube and has a fashion blog called Daddy Dressed Me, where he shows his designs, all modeled by Ava. He hopes that this will help build confidence in his daughter and show how Black fathers can make a difference in their children’s lives. Check it out.

Teresa starts off talking about Vice President, Kamala Harris, but it quickly becomes apparent that a lot of this podcast is going to be dedicated to Kamala Harris’ mother, Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, who had and continues to have a large influence on Kamala. The focus of this deep dive is to look at Kamala’s early years. Kamala’s parents met at UC Berkley and were both passionate about civil rights. Her father, Donald Harris, was an economist and is now a Professor Emeritus at Stanford. Kamala’s mother was Dr. Shyamala Gopalan, a biomedical scientist who made scientific advancements in breast biology and breast cancer research. Kamala was born in Oakland, California. Her mother was from India and her father is from Jamaica. While they were married they would both take Kamala to protests, imprinting a quest for freedom on their daughter at a very early age. Her parents divorced when Kamala was seven and Kamala went to live with her mother and sister, Maya. Growing up, Kamala’s mom recognized Kamala and her sister as being Black, although they were also half Indian. However, the girls were exposed to both a Black Baptist church and Hindu Temple. It was very important to Kamala’s parents that they be exposed to both cultures. When Kamala was in middle school, they moved to Montreal, Québec in Canada for her mother’s job. Kamala did not want to leave California and her friends, but of course, made the move anyway. It was in Montreal where the Kamala Harris we know today started to take root. The apartment complex she lived in had a rule against playing on the grass. At 13, Kamala organized a protest and got the management to reverse the ban on playing on the grass. In high school, Kamala was a social butterfly who had friends in all of the various high school cliques. One of her classmates described Kamala as getting along with everyone. Kamala’s mother constantly challenged both of her girls to make the world a better place. Kamala danced with a group called the “Super Six” in high school and would perform at their high school and homes for the elderly. Her mother died in 2009 from colon cancer, she would never see her daughter rise to the Vice President of the United States. Kamala and her sister scattered her ashes on a peninsula in India. Kamala Harris discusses in her book, The Truths We Hold, that her mother such a great influence. When Kamala would come to her mother and tell her of some injustice, her mother would ask her in reply “what are you going to do about it?” Kamala, in addition to being a politician, is a musician, author, and loves to cook. She is the stepmother to two children from her marriage to entertainment lawyer (And Second Gentleman) Doug Emhoff. Her step-children call her “Mom-ala” and they try (but do not always succeed) to have family dinner every Sunday. Teresa’s favorite quote from Kamala is “[a] patriot is not someone who condones the conduct of our country whatever it does. It is someone who fights every day for the ideals of the country, whatever it takes.”

Teresa talks about the importance of early detection of breast cancer and how a new breakthrough by Spanish scientist, Judit Giró Benet, is going to change access to detection. Benet developed a home testing kit to detect breast cancer. She calls it her Blue Box, and it won the James Dyson Award for 2020, which comes with a $30,000 prize to help scientists and engineers develop their products. Traditional breast cancer diagnostic tests such as mammograms and biopsies can be costly and uncomfortable. As early detection of breast cancer is the key to survival, removing barriers to detection by using a non-invasive and inexpensive home method will help women screen earlier. While the test is not a replacement for regular mammograms, it will make some level of screening more accessible. Further, the test gets more accurate as more and more people utilize it. The test analyzes metabolites in urine and uses AI to make a diagnosis. The accompanying app will then connect the user to a professional to help understand the test results. While it is not commercially available yet, Benet hopes to have FDA approval in the near future. Benet’s goal is to get the price down to about $60, which would allow far more women to have regular screenings. What an amazing idea!

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