Waves of brown and black people of all ethnicities and genders flooded St. Mary’s Park in the South Bronx on Thursday to show support for Democratic presidential primary candidate Bernie Sanders. The crowd, estimated at a whopping 18,500, challenged the “Bernie Bros” narrative that has permeated much of media conversation surrounding the candidate – a conversation that recently led to the #BernieMadeMeWhite hashtag rebuttal on social media.
#BernieMadeMeWhite entered the Twitter conversation after an American writer living in Japan became fed up with the media’s suggestion that Sanders is only winning with whites. As you can see in these photos from Thursday’s rally, the narrative that only white people are “Feeling the Bern” is far from the truth. Sanders is winning the young Latino vote 2 to 1, according to a recent report from NPR, and also has majority support among young black voters.
We attended Thurday’s South Bronx event to talk to supporters of a campaign that many assert hasn’t received the mainstream media coverage it deserves. One attendee’s poster read, “Hey, CNN are you seein’ this?”
Rosario Dawson, who has been on the campaign trail with Bernie and introduced him at several rallies, also referenced the media black-out claim in her speech, citing Trump’s $1.9 billion of free media coverage compared to Sanders’ $321 million.
Photo: Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla
Other speakers who showed up for Bernie included undocumented Dreamer Erika Andiola (who serves as Sanders’ National Latinx Press Secretary), Spike Lee, and René Pérez, aka Residente of Calle 13, who talked about Bernie’s historical opposition to the many dictatorships in Latin America, including Pinochet in Chile, Rios Montt in Guatemala, and Videla in Argentina. “If Senator Sanders wins the upcoming election, people will see the United States in a different light, ” Pérez said. “It will no longer be a country that invades, that provokes wars, that quiets people. It will not be a country that tortures or believes in colonies. Instead the United States will be a country that strives for unity, equality, and peace.”
While the entirety of the tremendous crowd could not get into the park where the main speeches took place, overflow spilled into an adjacent baseball field with a big screen and speakers broadcasting the speeches. And although some were irritated they wouldn’t get to see the Senator up-close after waiting in line for more than 4-5 hours, Bernie made a surprise entrance at the back of the field to deliver a quick yet impassioned speech to the overflow crowd before his main address inside the park. People climbed the fences and trees to get a better view.
In his main speech, Sanders went on to talk about the tenets of his political platform, which include access to free and quality public education, healthcare, affordable housing, the removal of marijuana from the federal list of dangerous drugs, and the elimination of privately-owned prisons among many other points. The Bernie chants were constant throughout the night, and “¡Sí se puede!” was one of them.
Remezcla had a chance to talk with people at the rally, including Bernie supporters and even some who were still on the fence about their candidate of choice. Here’s what they had to say:
All photos by Itzel Alejandra Martinez for Remezcla.
Rosalba Bujanda (12 years old ) & Jacinta Bujanda (14 years old), Washington Heights.
“I found out about him over the summer and told my parents, and now they’re voting for him. I can’t vote though. I like how he’s very direct and straightforward about climate change. The other ones try to please everybody. There was a question about fracking where Hillary gave this long answer and he just said NO.” – Jacinta Bujanda
Edwin Cuevas, South Bronx, 27 years old.
“First and foremost Bernie is very moral. Same as the way I felt when I went for Obama. I sense it. I feel it. Bernie has no grip attached to him. Bernie is very original and there is nothing to doubt when you can see what he’s all about.”
Leanny Tineo, Bronx, 13 years old.
“I feel like Bernie has the passion to be a very good president. I feel like there’s going to be a new revolution that’s going to be good for us.”
Paulo Rivera, Brooklyn
“I’m here because my mind matters and my mind is part of a greater collective. I’m seeing that collective around me right now and it’s becoming one force. And that force cannot be ignored because the voice of that one force is unstoppable. I am so excited to be part of what’s looking like a revolution– a plain out revolution in America. I have not been excited for any presidential candidacy since back in the 70s since Jimmy Carter was around and I was knee high.”
Ingrid Morales, Los Angeles, 23 years old.
“I’m hoping to hear more of Sanders ideas about immigration reform and see where I stand after that. It affects my family, my friends, my neighbors. It’s an issue that affects all of the U.S. and there’s many people living in the shadows and we need to change that. We can’t live on forever like this.”
Wilson Ramones, New York, 18 years old.
“I’ve researched him and I see that he’s been consistent with what he’s said and what he’s done. For 30 years he’s been saying the same thing. He’s big in activism especially with civil rights. He likes grassroots politics and I really respect that.”
Kellen Insfran, Bronx, 21 years old.
“This is the first time I’m going to vote. The views he has seem more positive than Clinton and Trump of course. The fact that he was arrested for being in the Civil Rights Movement also really touches me. Black people and Hispanic people – we need that push especially from a white man. If a Hispanic man says what Bernie does, it’s not going to be as respected in our society. I hate to say that, but it’s true. Yes, he is a white man, but I see the sincerity in him. Also– the Republicans– we have to get them out of here. Once the Democrats are in, I think there will be a lot of good happening.”
Kaila Paulino, NYC, 24 years old.
“Today we are here to raise awareness about political prisoners. There are many political prisoners in this country. We are saying that all of these prisoners, that are prisoners of war who are fighting for freedom and for all people on this planet, do not deserve to lose their lives behind bars. It is completely unfair and unjust. We are saying hands off Assata Shakur and hands off our liberation warriors. I don’t really place much faith in this political system, so what I believe in is grassroots organizing and supporting those people who are constantly silenced. Any politician that wants to support a more just world, power to them but power to the people. “
Kyer Bustamante, Harlem, 46 years old.
“I came here with my husband, and I’m supporting Bernie because he’s very progressive. He wants us to have free college, and he’s very pro-gay rights, pro-equal rights. And no more wars. As a veteran, I think going to war for oil is not what we need. We need to chill out and relax.”
Raquel Rodriguez, Woodbury, CT, 21 years old.
“I am here to support Bernie Sanders because we finally have a candidate for the common people. People are scared these days. You turn on the news and everyone’s pointing blame at one party or another group of people. It’s stressful. And that’s part of the reason why people are in such a tizzy this election, and why there have been so many violent outbreaks at political rallies. Bernie Sanders is giving us a way to settle these problems without violence, without hatred, without anger. He’s really trying to get everyone to sit down and work together and that’s a beautiful thing.”