The Get with Morgan Fogarty: Elexus Jionde
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Elexus Jionde’s social media celebrity started with a tweet. A thread of tweets, actually. She says, “But it was the first tweet that really got people’s attention.” That tweet, “White people can’t ever let go of 9/11, a single day in our history, but want you to get over 300 years of racial oppression lol,” provoked death threats. And a conversation. Jionde finished with: “So to end this thread, never forget 9/11. For sure. But don’t forget the rest of this s*** either. Please.”
“After that, there were people who emailed me, saying, ‘You know, I’ve said that before, I’ve said get over slavery without understanding fully what I was saying,” explains Jionde.
The controversial conversationalist gained tens of thousands of followers, virtually overnight. Now, household names like actress Sophia Bush, Soledad O’Brien, even Anthony Scaramucci follow her. The self-proclaimed “virtual educator’s” verified account bio reads, in part, “teaching you history you didn’t learn in school.”
Her 9/11 tweet thread was not a one-off. Jionde’s delivery is often abrasive. She says, “I do scare people away, but people who normally wouldn’t be interested in history are interested in it.” WCCB News @ Ten anchor Morgan Fogarty asked, “Do you worry about that? That the people you might be scaring away, are people that you could help learn something different, if you had a different approach?” Jionde replied, “Yeah, and that’s what other people who have different approaches are for, so that that can appeal to those people. I’m a juicy peach, and not everybody likes peaches.”
She says she’s on a mission to share her $40,000 history degree with the masses. More on that in a moment.
23-year-old Jionde, herself a Garinger High School graduate, doesn’t just tweet. She’s invited to talk to teens, and says that experience has been life-changing. We were there the day she talked with kids at Behailu Academy in Charlotte.
She says she’s enlightened. Notably, she does not say she’s “woke.” Fogarty asked, “Why do you hate the term ‘woke?'” Jionde replied, “Because with woke, you can fall back asleep.”
Jionde’s education at Ohio State University, was paid for by former Carolina Panther Steve Smith. Smith read about her, years ago, in the local newspaper. She was in high school then, working three jobs to help her family. Smith decided to help her. Jionde says, “I’ve had a few mentors in my life, but he is the most akin to who I am as a person.” Jionde says Smith, a provocateur in his own right, has never told her to tone it down, and doesn’t weigh in on her twitter timeline. Fogarty asked, “So you don’t have a relationship on a public platform, you have a genuine, deep, personal relationship?” Jionde says, “I don’t even think I follow Steve back on Twitter.” And, “Sorry, I’ll follow you back, Steve!”
Jionde’s got goals bigger than Twitter. She created Intelexual Media. She’s working on a screenplay. She wants to get her master’s degree. Her second book is on the way. And she’s still tweeting to her 45,000 followers – and foes – every day. She says, “I know I’m abrasive. I know I’m controversial. But it all comes from a good place.”
Jionde is moving to Atlanta in a couple weeks. She says the change of scenery helps her stay creative. While she’s there, she’s also working on developing black history kits for kids.