There is much discussion centered around the newly announced GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley. Is she white? Is she Indian, passing for white? Was she born in India?
Haley, 51, is the two-term Governor of South Carolina and the former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Haley, a former President Donald Trump supporter, was born Nimarata Nikki Randhawa in Bamberg, South Carolina, in 1972, to immigrant Indian Punjabi Sikh parents from Punjab, India. Her father, Ajit Singh Randhawa, and her mother, Raj Kaur Randhawa, emigrated from Amritsar District, Punjab, India, to Canada and then to the U.S. Her parents are both Sikh.
If Haley had been born in India, she would not be able to run for president of the United States. A U.S. president must be a “natural-born citizen.”
It doesn’t seem that Haley has hidden her Indian roots. She has called herself “proud daughter of Indian immigrants.”
Haley, who added the surname “Haley” when he married her husband Michael Haley in 1996 when she was 26 years old, formally launched her 2024 presidential bid on Feb. 15.
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“I’m more confident than ever that we can make this vision real in our time – because that’s what I’ve seen my entire life. As a brown girl, growing up in a black-and-white world, I saw the promise of America unfold before me,” Haley said at a recent event in South Carolina.
In her speech, Haley stressed she did not believe there was racism in America. “Take it from me, America is not a racist country,” she declared, as reported by The Hindu.
If elected, she would be the first Indian-American and first woman to be elected U.S. president.
She is the third Indian-American to run for the U.S. presidency in three consecutive election cycles.
Bobby Jindal ran in 2016 and Vice President Kamala Harris in 2020.
There has been a rumor on social media that she changed her name as a way of “white-washing” her name to “get ahead in ‘non-racist’ America.” She took her husband’s name six years before she entered the political arena. And it seems she has used her middle name, “Nikki,” since childhood.
Haley has gone by “Nikki” ever since she was born, Haley spokesperson Chaney Denton told USA Today. Haley has gone by “Nikki,” her legal middle name, since birth.
“Nikki” is actually typically used “as a term of endearment for the youngest girl in a Sikh family,” according to British-Indian writer Tunku Varadarajan, who wrote an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal in 2020 about Haley’s name controversy. Haley is the youngest girl in her family.
Nikki Haley with her parents and siblings as a child. . Her parents, Ajit and Raj Randhawa, are in the center surrounded by their children. Nikki is in the jumper on the left, sitting on her father’s knee. Clockwise from her are older sister Simran, big brother Mitti and, at bottom, little brother Simmi (Photo: Twitter, @Dallamarr, https://twitter.com/Dallamarr/status/1625918918601605130)/ FILE – President Donald Trump speaks with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley before a meeting during the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 18, 2017. Haley, the former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador, announced her candidacy for president on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)