A San Francisco teacher has been ridiculed for her ‘performative wokeness’ after she claimed that viral Bernie Sanders wearing mittens at President Joe Biden’s inauguration was a lesson in ‘white privilege and male privilege.’
High school teacher Ingrid Seyer-Ochi penned the San Francisco Chronicle op-ed published on Sunday, nearly two weeks after Sanders and his mittens took the internet by storm.
In it, she criticized the 79-year-old senator for wrapping up against the cold in his mittens and winter coat, while she claimed that his female colleagues, and especially women of color such as Vice President Kamala Harris, did not have the same opportunity to dress down for such a prestigious event.
‘Sen. Sanders is no white supremacist insurrectionist. But he manifests privilege, white privilege, male privilege and class privilege, in ways that my students could see and feel,’ Seyer-Ochi, who earns six figures working for the San Francisco Unified School District, wrote.
The internet was quick to respond to the the ‘stupid and appalling’ comments, with many pointing out that Sanders had used the social media buzz about his appearance to raise money for charity by selling merchandise.
Others ridiculed Seyer-Ochi for using her platform to attack Biden instead of discussing the first female president or the other women in politics she claimed to support.
‘Imagine having a platform to write about anything, and choosing to dunk on Bernie’s mittens,’ BBC journalist Benjamin Ramm commented.
Laura Bassett, a political journalist and columnist, tweeted: ‘What fresh hell is this take, I don’t even understand. The dude wore mittens and a big coat because it was cold and then he turned around and raised a ton of money for charity.’
One Twitter user slammed the op-ed for being ‘performative wokeness.’
Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, a high school teacher in San Franscisco, has received criticism after publishing an op-ed calling Bernie Sanders’ mittens a lesson in ‘white privilege’
Bernie Sanders was seen wearing knit mittens and a puffy jacket during the inauguration of Joe Biden
‘He was wearing a suit under the coat, which seems highly appropriate. The mittens were knitted by a constituent – a queer woman, no less – so they are also highly appropriate,’ wrote @bgluckman.
Ash Sarkar, a contributing editor at Novaramedia, wrote: ‘No, Bernie’s mittens are not a manifestation of white privilege. Give me strength.’
Political journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote: ‘What a stupid and appalling article: all based on how Bernie dressed. As stupid and gross as it is, it represents a large and growing sector of left-liberal thought.
Others said that they understood some of the roots at the base of the op-ed but ripped Seyer-Ochi for ‘blaming Bernie.’
‘I can kinda understand complaining that we all focused too much on Bernie and not enough on the first BIPOC woman VP… But to actually blame Bernie for that is… a take,’ wrote @jurfinkel.
‘And then to complain that he didn’t get dressed up *enough*? He should have spent more money on clothes?’
Jordan Uhl, a progressive activist, praised Sanders for using the mittens fame to raise $1.8million for charity.
‘When he turned around and used that moment to raise millions for charity that was also traumatizing for my students too,’ Uhl wrote.
Others, who admitted to not liking Sanders, also came to the defense of the Socialist Democrat.
‘I’m not even a Bernie fan. But I’m a lifelong New Englander neighbor to VT and all I can say is the writer has been in SF too long. We don’t do fashion, especially when we’re a member of a winter audience. Dressing with common sense is not white privilege,’ wrote @HawthorneJunipe.
Another Twitter user wrote: ‘The guy next to him is wearing a similar jacket. I’m not a huge bernie fan, but that’s going a little too far. Bernie has no style and doesn’t care. Peeps need to let it go. Tired of the memes as well.’
Seyer-Ochi started her opinion piece by telling readers that she and her students had analyzed images from the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
‘This is white supremacy, this is white privilege. It can be hard to pinpoint, but when we see, it, we know it,’ Seyer-Ochi said, recounting a Zoom lecture with her students.
‘Across our Zoom screen, they affirmed, with nods, thumbs-ups, and emojis of anger and frustration.’
She said that two weeks later, her students once again analysed images – this time from the inauguaration where students ‘saw diversity, creativity and humanity.’
‘On the day of the inauguration, Bernie Sanders was barely on our radar. The next day, he was everywhere,’ Seyer-Ochi wrote.
The teacher, who previously worked as a professor at UC Berkeley and Mills College, said students ‘saw a white man in a puffy jacket and huge mittens, distant not only in his social distancing, but in his demeanor and attire.’
Journalists lambasted the San Francisco Chronicle op-ed as ‘stupid’ and said they were not ‘white privilege’
Seyer-Ochi said she was ‘puzzled and fumed’ as she saw the ‘incredibly well-educated and -privileged white man, showing up for perhaps the most important ritual of the decade, in a puffy jacket and huge mittens.’
The teacher does not go much further in the op-ed explaining how 79-year-old man wearing a jacket is white privilege, especially when the temperatures on inauguration day reached a low below freezing.
‘I am beyond puzzled as to why so many are loving the images of Bernie and his gloves. Sweet, yes, the gloves, knit by an educator. So ‘Bernie,’ she wrote.
‘Not so sweet? The blindness I see, of so many (Bernie included), to the privileges Bernie represents.’
Seyer-Ochi previously worked as a college professor at UC Berkley before penning the op-ed
Seyer-Ochi made a whopping $123,682 in 2017 and $130,637 in 2018 from pay and benefits as the former principal of an elementary school, according to TransparentCalifornia.com.
Her pay dropped down to a total package of only $69,966 in 2019 – the last year her records appear to be public.
Critics were quick to point out Seyer-Ochi and her own privilege, pointing to her salary. Another with linked to a dissertation paper written by a former student on which she is listed as an adviser.
‘If I was Ingrid Seyer-Ochi and I authored academic papers that blamed African American parents instead of institutional racism that creates obstacles to Black children’s success then I would back off Bernie’s whites privilege and check my own,’ wrote @rootsreggaepunk.
Maybe someone should knit Seyer-Ochi mittens of her own to warm her cold heart.
Twitter users across the political spectrum critiqued the San Francisco Chronicle op-ed