Biden Transition Team Warns Kamala’s Niece About Grifting Off Kamala’s Fame From Public Service

Written by Ann Brown
Biden Transition Team Warns Kamala’s Niece About Grifting Off Kamala’s Fame From Public Service. Photo from @meena.

Newly inaugurated Vice President Kamala Harris‘ niece, Meenakshi “Meena” Harris, may be making things a little sticky for the new administration. Her 3-year-old lifestyle brand, Phenomenal Woman, has just inked new deals and has debuted products that seem to be tied to her Aunt Kamala being elected vice president. 

The Biden-Harris transition team warned Meena that she can’t profit off her famous aunt’s image after she unveiled a collaboration between her company and Beats By Dre, Axios reported.

Meena is a lawyer and the founder and CEO of Phenomenal, as well as a New York Times-bestselling author who released her first children’s book in June 2020. “Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea” is based on her mother, Maya, and her aunt, Kamala. On Jan. 19, Meena released a second book, “Ambitious Girl.”

During his presidential campaign, Joe Biden pledged that neither his family nor Harris’ family would profit from their service as president and vice president.

“My son, my family will not be involved in any business, any enterprise that is in conflict with or appears to be in conflict,” he said in 2020.

Meena is the daughter of Kamala Harris’ sister, Maya. Her latest business deals are causing an optics problem for Biden. 

Meena’s company, Phenomenal, curated products with Beats By Dre including a black hoodie emblazoned with the word “AMBITIOUS” on the front; a Bluetooth speaker with the word “PHENOMENAL” across it; and the over-ear headphones. The headphones have the words “The First But Not The Last” — an obvious reference to Kamala Harris becoming the first female vice president, Axios reported.

The products are not for sale but were gifted to influencers and celebrities ahead of the inauguration.

Apparently, the Biden-Harris transition team was not made aware of the collaboration in advance, people close to the situation told Axios.

But Phenomenal has sold other items inspired by Kamala Harris. They include a sweatshirt with “MVP” on it, standing for “Madam Vice President,” and another with the phrase “I’m speaking” on the front — “a nod to a moment when Kamala Harris complained about being interrupted during a vice-presidential debate,” Axios reported. After Harris was criticized for being “too-ambitious,” Meena created and sold a pink sweatshirt with “AMBITIOUS” written on the front.

“I look at her as another figure in history and someone to be celebrated,” Meena said of her aunt during an interview with the New York Times.

In addition to the original Phenomenal Woman T-shirt, Phenomenal has created other activism-focused campaigns and products such as #1600Men, Phenomenal Voter, Phenomenally Black, Phenomenally Asian, and Phenomenally Latina, Deadline reported.

In December, lawyers for the presidential transition team started drafting new rules for the Biden White House that are likely to be more restrictive than the rules that governed the Barack Obama administration, The Washington Post reported.

Meena has also partnered with former Funny Or Die executive and Obama White House alum, Brad Jenkins, to launch Phenomenal Productions, Deadline reported.

Phenomenal Productions is a full-service creative production house that will produce videos, social content, design, and creative products for nonprofits, foundations, causes and companies. 

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“Phenomenal Productions looks to stand at the intersection of culture and politics with a specific emphasis on communities of color and underrepresented voting blocs,” Yahoo reported.

Meena launched Phenomenal Media in 2020. Its focus is to bring awareness to issues affecting underrepresented communities. The online platform has included essays from Tamika Palmer, the mother of Breonna Taylor, as well as WNBA players Nneka Ogwumike and Sue Bird. 

Vice President Harris is close to Meena and Meena’s daughter. In fact, a video of Sen. Harris with her toddler great-niece went viral during the campaign. Meena posted the clip of her 4-year-old sitting on her great aunt’s lap and expressing a desire to be president.

In the video, Kamala Harris tells her great-niece, “You could be president” before explaining that she would have to be at least 35 years old, The Grio reported. The little girl quickly responded by telling Harris that she also wants to be “an astronaut.”

Twitter responded warmly to Meena after she posted a family photo on Jan. 19 with the words “COUSINS DO DC!!!!!!!!”

“Honestly, I’m so happy for your family and our country,” responded one user.

“A normal family,” tweeted another.