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U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who recently announced her candidacy for the presidential election in 2020, has confronted critics who questioned her black heritage, her record of incarcerating minorities as a prosecutor and her decision to marry a white man. (Twitter photo)

NEW YORK – U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, who is of Indian and Jamaican descent, has directly confronted critics who questioned her black heritage, her record of incarcerating minorities as a prosecutor and her decision to marry a white man.

In an interview Feb. 11 with New York-based The Breakfast Club radio, the show's hosts asked the California Democrat to address a series of derogatory memes that have circulated on social media, CNN reported. 

One of the hosts cited a meme that said Harris is "not African American" because her parents were immigrants born in India and Jamaica and she spent her high school years in Canada.

"So I was born in Oakland, and raised in the U.S. except for the years that I was in high school in Montreal, Canada," Harris responded. "And look, this is the same thing they did to (former President) Barack (Obama). This is not new to us and so I think that we know what they are trying to do.

"They are trying to do what has been happening over the last two years, which is powerful voices trying to sow hate and division, and so we need to recognize when we're being played," Harris said.

One of the hosts followed up by asking Harris how she responds to people who question the “legitimacy of your blackness."

"I think they don't understand who black people are," Harris replied. "I'm not going to spend my time trying to educate people about who black people are. I'm black, and I'm proud of being black. I was born black. I will die black, and I'm not going to make excuses for anybody because they don't understand."

Harris became the first Indian American and the second black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate when she took office in 2017.

A former California state attorney general, Harris also said that she makes no apologies for pursuing violent criminals to keep communities safe, but added that she wished she could have done more to effect change. 

Harris said the criminal justice system is deeply flawed but makes no apologies for pursuing violent criminals.

The senator was also asked about criticism she has faced on social media for marrying a white man, CNN said.

"Look, I love my husband, and he happened to be the one that I chose to marry, because I love him – and that was that moment in time, and that's it," Harris said. "And he loves me."

Last month, Harris officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign from her hometown Oakland.

She is part of a rapidly expanding Democratic White House field that includes Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar. Also expected to join the race is Vermont senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

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