- Two women of color, both climate activists, were unwittingly featured in presidential campaign ads for candidates they don't support.
- One of the women was featured in an advertisement for Senator Elizabeth Warren; the other found her likeness in one for Former Vice President Joe Biden.
- "People will look at me and think 'Biden has young Muslim followers,'" said one of the women. "But that's not true because I'm not one of them."
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Two women of color, both climate activists, say they were unwittingly featured in presidential campaign advertisements, The Guardian reported.
Ayanna Lee, executive director of the Youth Climate Action Team, attended a rally for Senator Elizabeth Warren in Milwaukee to protest the candidate, only to later learn she was featured in a Warren 2020 ad.
"My friend sent a screenshot in the group chat. I clicked on it and was like 'No way,'" she said, adding that campaign staffers knew she was not a Warren supporter.
"Not even 10 minutes into us walking in the door, her team was asking us what we were doing and trying to bargain with us to not make a statement," Lee told The Guardian. "We talked to her. Each of us took 10-20 seconds to give a statement about what we cared about like agriculture, indigenous rights or water."
Lee says she's supporting Bernie Sanders for president, not Warren.
"I knew I took myself to that rally but they took advantage of who I am," she added. "It made me upset that I was being used for a campaign that didn't support what I support."
Sabirah Mahmud, another Sanders supporter and the national logistics director for the US Youth Climate Strike, also discovered a campaign had used her likeness. She found herself in a video ad for Former Vice President Joe Biden's campaign.
"Initially I was surprised but now I feel very uncomfortable," Mahmud told The Guardian. "Of all the [Democratic] candidates, [Biden] is the one I would be most alarmed about. This is a national campaign ad and my face is being put out to uplift his campaign."
"People will look at me and think 'Biden has young Muslim followers,'" she added, "but that's not true because I'm not one of them."
She attended a Biden rally in May 2019, hoping to speak with him about his position on confronting climate change.
"Before I could even ask him the question, he interrupted me mid-sentence, mansplaining the entire climate crisis," she said. "He went on to the next people to take pictures and shake hands."
After discovering herself in the ad, she tweeted that she was "used as hijabi clout for the @JoeBiden campaign, too bad i'm #hotgirlsforbernie," referencing a previously viral hashtag.
Other people of color say they've been unknowingly featured in campaign promotions and literature.
In November, Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, drew criticism after publishing an open letter from three black South Carolina politicians. The letter praised Buttigieg's Douglass Plan, a proposal to address systemic racism.
"There is one presidential candidate who has proven to have intentional policies designed to make a difference in the Black experience, and that's Pete Buttigieg. We are over 400 South Carolinians, including business owners, pastors, community leaders, and students. Together, we endorse his Douglass Plan for Black America, the most comprehensive roadmap for tackling systemic racism offered by a 2020 presidential candidate," the letter, published in the HBCU Times, said.
But the three leaders — Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Devine, Rehoboth Baptist pastor and state Representative Ivory Thigpen, and chair of the state party's Black Caucus Johnnie Cordero — said they did not officially endorse Buttigieg's campaign.
At the time, the campaign released a press release citing Devine, Thigpen, and Cordero's praise for the plan, including them in "more than 400 South Carolinians" who "endorse Mayor Pete Buttigieg's Douglass Plan for Black America." Two of the three said they did not give the campaign permission to use their names.
And back in 2016, Hillary Clinton's campaign posted a tweet with an image of a hijabi Muslim woman of color.
The tweet featured Nida Allam, a Sanders campaigner, in tears at the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The caption said, "We made history."
"I was at the DNC convention on the delegate floor and it was the moment Senator Sanders had conceded," Allam said to The Guardian. "I was crying because I was working on the Sanders campaign."
Allam replied to the tweet, noting she was a Sanders supporter. The campaign Twitter account responded, but did not remove the post.
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