“I am Mexican and I am Muslim and I am Trump’s biggest nightmare,” said Andrew, an 11-year-old video blogger.
The Texas fifth grader feels like he has two strikes against him as a Muslim of Mexican heritage who lives in the U.S. He uses his Facebook page as a tool to be vocal about political issues and as an outlet to defend his faith and identity. "I am Muslim and I am not a terrorist," he says in one video.
Andrew started his Facebook page with the help of his mother, Nahela Morales, when he was seven. Initially, the page was intended for Andrew to keep in touch with his friends back in Mexico, but in the ensuing years, he's turned to posting messages advocating for racial and religious tolerance, responding to xenophobic and racist comments in the news, often made by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
His mother helped him through his first year on the social network before leaving him to become an expert in making videos and uploading them himself. Morales wanted Andrew to get a sense of responsibility and dedication early on. "My mom said if I wanted a Facebook page I have to manage it by myself, and I had to agree to that," Andrew told me. "I don’t have my own phone, I use my mom's phone. I sometimes secretly take her phone to record a video to surprise her." (His mom says he is allowed to get his own phone when he turns 12.)
His Facebook page has more than 10,000 likes and growing, with a fanbase that spans the globe. Morales says they receives positive messages on a daily basis from parents who have children his age watching his videos. "He has had parents call and write to him and thank him that their kids are watching him and that his message is impacting their homes," Morales said.
And on a recent trip to Morocco with his mother, they were stopped by a family with two boys Andrew's age. The family requested to take a photo with Andrew and thanked him for his positive videos. Morales acknowledges the need for her son to "practice what he preaches" in his videos and tips to others. "As a mom, it’s a blessing but also a responsibility because all eyes are on my child," she said. "I always tell him whatever you are going to talk about, make sure that you are on point with yourself."
As his fanbase has grown and Andrew has become more comfortable making videos, his page has evolved, shifting from simple weekly updates to his friends in Mexico to political videos opposing Trump and urging voters to vote for Bernie Sanders.
As a Mexican American, Andrew said he got angry when he heard about Trump's plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. "I did not agree with any of the words he said, not one bit. He is negative and nasty," Andrew said.
When I asked Andrew about what he thinks of Bernie Sanders, he chanted excitedly on the phone, "Bernie! Bernie!"
Even though Andrew can't legally cast a vote for his favorite presidential nominee, he is doing all he can to urge others to vote Bernie and he has his reasons. "I like everything Bernie says, I like the way he treats Muslims. I’m fine about Hillary, but I feel that Bernie is more positive," he said. "Bernie is funny, interactive, he loves people, and doesn’t judge people from other races."
This being the internet, trolls comment on Andrew's page. Some even accuse him of being brainwashed by his mother. "I know my mom is doing a good job raising me and I am proud of her. She’s been here for me and helped me, it hurts a lot seeing negative comments about her," he said. Occasionally, he'll respond with a positive video message.
Regardless of the negative comments, Andrew still makes weekly videos and posts urging children his age to smile and stay optimistic. His latest videos show him at an elderly home playing bingo and reading stories to senior citizens.
Next up (if his mom will let him): opening his first Snapchat account.
Alaa Basatneh is a human-rights activist and a writer at Fusion focusing on the Arab world. She is the protagonist of the 2013 documentary "#ChicagoGirl."