#BernieMadeMeWhite highlights US minority voters
Bernie Sanders' recent caucus wins have sparked an online conversation about who exactly is voting for him. Many social media users say it places a long-overdue spotlight on US minority voters.
Thus far, Sanders' support has mostly been credited to white voters, and he has lost in states with high black turnout.
The hashtag #BernieMadeMeWhite is a response to that, and a way for non-white Sanders supporters to be heard.
"Black, Hispanic and Asian supporters of Bernie Sanders are used to being erased by the media by now," says Leslie Lee III, an African-American teacher and writer living in Japan.
Lee, who goes by @tokyovampires on Twitter, created the hashtag after several US media outlets failed to report on the ethnic makeup of voters in the "Western Saturday" caucuses, where Sanders won in Hawaii, Alaska and Washington.
As part of his takeaways from the Democratic contests, CNN senior digital correspondent, Chris Moody wrote, "These caucus states - largely white and rural - are the type of places Sanders traditionally does well."
But as many Twitter users pointed out, Hawaii is only 24% white - it's one of the only states in the US that has never had a white majority population. And Alaska and Washington are both states that have a Native American and Alaska Native population that's over 100,000, according the US Census.
On Twitter, Lee, who is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, commented that Sanders' win in Hawaii "magically" made the state "white". He says since he's been ignored as a black voter, his support for the candidate "made him white", as that was the only voting bloc the US media focuses on.
Twitter and Facebook were flooded with tweets from minority voters saying they've "become white".
"We're ignored, we're not talked about," says Lee. He says the media plays a major role in how Sanders' supporters are perceived. "The only thing that's talked about as far as far as Bernie Sanders' race is that he has a problem attracting us. So we don't exist to them [the media]."
On Wednesday, the Sanders campaign released a statement pointing out a new a new poll in California - a state with a whopping 548 delegates to win- that "shows [Sanders] leading his Democratic opponent 43 percent to 35 percent among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders." But in an earlier interview with the Los Angeles Times' editorial board, Mr Sanders acknowledged that his campaign has struggled to reach out to black women voters.
California votes on 7 June. The state has the largest Hispanic population in the US. It's also one of the four US states with a majority-minority population, meaning whites are out-numbered by ethnic minorities. The US Census projects that the entire country will become a majority-minority nation by 2044.
Blog by: Shefali S. Kulkarni
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