By: Ankita Kulkarni
October 13 2022
Clips of a Kamala Harris interview have been taken out of context and incorrectly linked to the distribution plans of Hurricane Ian relief funds.
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris was recently interviewed by the actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas at the Democratic National Committee's Women's Leadership Forum on September 30, 2022. Following the event, a video from the interview started circulating online. Users claimed that Harris intended to prioritize communities of color and other vulnerable groups in distributing the Hurricane Ian relief funds. One such Twitter post included the caption, "After the dreadful hurricane in Florida @VP Kamala Harris says that the rebuilding of the infrastructure will be decided by "giving resources based on equity" by directing funds to "communities of color." The video has garnered thousands of views. However, the comments lack context, thus misrepresenting her response.
The post refers to Harris's response to a question by Chopra Jonas on relief funds regarding Hurricane Ian and implementing long-term plans regarding climate emergencies. The full interview on the White House's official website shows Chopra Jonas asking Harris, "Can you talk just a little bit about the relief efforts, obviously, of Hurricane Ian and what the administration has been doing to address the climate crisis in the states?"
Harris, in response, notes a "$370 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act dedicated to address the climate crisis." She discussed the act's potential positive impact and stated the situation's urgency, adding, "In particular on the disparities, as you have described rightly, which is that it is our lowest income communities and our communities of color that are most impacted by these extreme conditions and impacted by issues that are not of their own making."
She said, "And so, we have to address this in a way that is about giving resources based on equity, understanding that we fight for equality, but we also need to fight for equity; understanding that not everyone starts out at the same place. And if we want people to be in an equal place, sometimes we have to take into account those disparities and do that work."
The full interview sees Harris touch upon various issues, including Hurricane Ian. The VP said that resources should be distributed equally among vulnerable groups as many communities are deprived of such benefits during a climate disaster. She did not describe government plans or the structure of the allocation of relief funds to the victims of Hurricane Ian. Independent fact-checking organizations, including Poynter, have previously debunked this claim.
On September 29, 2022, Hurricane Ian left thousands of Floridians trapped in their homes due to heavy flooding. The Associated Press reported that Ian struck Florida with 150 mph (241 kph) winds and was one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the United States. The White House News briefing noted that President Joe Biden declared that the State of Florida was under a major disaster. Federal aid was introduced to support recovery efforts in the areas affected by Hurricane Ian beginning on September 23.
Comments made by Kamala Harris on broader aspects of dealing with climate change relating to the equitable distribution of resources to all low-income communities and communities of color during the climate disaster have been misrepresented and lack context. There is no evidence of Harris specifically stating that relief for Hurricane Ian would be based on race. Hence, we have marked the claim as misleading.