NATIONAL (VFB) — Leslie Lee III, Twitter handle @tokyovampires, is a freelance writer and high school English teacher from Louisiana. Born and raised in a part of Baton Rouge that was once called “the most dangerous postal code in America,” Leslie worked for FEMA for seven years during the Katrina recovery.
It was Leslie who created the hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite yesterday that quickly went viral.
— L. (@leslieleeiii) March 27, 2016
He explained his decision by tweeting, “That’s why the [hash]tag exists. People were claiming Alaska and Hawaii were just “white” so that’s why [Bernie] won.”
@JMRooker That's why the tag exists. People were claiming AK and HI were just "white" so that's why he won.
— L. (@leslieleeiii) March 28, 2016
When #BernieMadeMeWhite became an official Twitter Moment, I reached out to Leslie, interested in what drove him to start the popular trend.
— Twitter Moments (@TwitterMoments) March 27, 2016
After introductions, we got straight to his hashtag.
How does it make you feel when you read media narratives that essentially whitewash you and your support from the election?
LL: It’s incredibly frustrating. It’s not hard to find people of color who support Bernie Sanders and his platform of economic justice, and it’s certainly easy to find people of color critical of Hillary Clinton’s long history of destructive politics towards POC in both the US and abroad.
However, these voices have been ignored by the mainstream media entirely. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that Hillary had even been asked about her use of the racist pseudo science of “super predators” to support the Crime Bill, even though black progressive twitter had been talking about it for months. That’s an incredible failure.
Why do you think the media is trying to eliminate your support from their narrative?
LL: Because it would distract from the coverage of the horse race. It’s easier to talk about how many points Hillary leads in the polls with black people in the South than it is to talk about the massive economic changes needed to help those black people in the South. The discussion in this election has been mostly policy free.
What would you say to other POC who are looking for truth to make the best decision in this election? How can others combat the misinformation of the mainstream media?
You have to turn off CNN and MSNBC. Turn on independent media like The Young Turks, Democracy Now, and the Majority Report. Some of the best and most informative news programs are run by regular people who are doing it themselves in their spare time. The Benjamin Dixon Show, Tim Black, and The Sane Progressive are some examples. Not only are they good at what they do, they show how all of us can help change things for the better.
Given Bernie’s involvement with and arrests for Civil Rights, where do you think the narrative began that POC favor the Clintons? Has there ever been truth to this or is it simply a fabricated misnomer?
The Clintons have built a great brand. Bill’s Presidency is remembered fondly among a lot of people, especially black people. There are legitimate reasons for this, but as we look back at what actually happened in the 90’s, we see how devastating it was for us.
But as Michelle Alexander said, the fact that the truth hasn’t been disseminated or discussed is a failure of the media. They’ve talked endlessly about Bill playing the sax, but not about what the Clintons did to build up mass incarceration, to continue the drug war, and to gut welfare.
If the media were half as skeptical of Hillary and Bill that they are of Bernie, they would not have a good name in the black community.
Leslie finished with a few words of wisdom. “Living abroad has taught me that we don’t have to live the way we live in America. We can have universal healthcare. We can have a country that’s not constantly at war. We can have a country where shooting deaths aren’t common. These things are possible, people just like us have accomplished them.”
I see #BernieMadeMeWhite has begun but I don't understand it. What's the story?
— deray (@deray) March 27, 2016
#BernieMadeMeWhite isn't to put down anyone, it's to call out the media for ignoring Latinos supporting BernieSanders & other ppl of color.
— Proggressive⚖Latinos (@MexisforBernie) March 27, 2016
Once people figured out the meaning behind Leslie’s hashtag, the Internet had great fun destroying CNN and others for their intentionally misleading coverage.
— Sāvion (@SavionWright) March 28, 2016
— tᕼe ᒪᑌᑕᗩᔕ ᗷᖇOᔕ (@lucasbros) March 27, 2016
— suZee (@BigOlSoulSista) March 28, 2016
— Oknujur (@Oknujur1) March 27, 2016
— Andrea 🇺🇸#BernieBitch🇺🇸🌹🌹🌹 (@veggietrunks) March 27, 2016
— DollyPartonSocialism 🥑 (@DPsocialism) March 27, 2016
— WilmingtonNC4Bernie (@WNC4Bernie) March 27, 2016
— Tim Black ™ (@RealTimBlack) March 27, 2016
Stop calling us privileged, stop calling us bros, stop calling us white simply to advance your false narratives. #BernieMadeMeWhite
— amara (@____amara____) March 28, 2016
— Khaled Beydoun (@KhaledBeydoun) March 28, 2016
#BernieMadeMeWhite I'm listening to Simon and Garfunkle on repeat
— I. Maria Jones 🇺🇸 (@IMJones111) March 27, 2016
Finally I have white privilege.#BernieMadeMeWhite
— 🦉WesleyZ3🦉 (@50th_President) March 27, 2016
I gotta say, #BernieMadeMeWhite is not for people who do not understand satire as a means of social commentary. It's ok. Next time.
— aaron (@leftyaaron) March 28, 2016
Special thanks to Leslie Lee III for getting involved and sharing his story