A San Francisco teacher had a bone to pick with the Bernie Sanders meme that went viral during President Joe Biden’s inauguration. In the popular image, 79-year-old Senator Bernie Sanders was photographed in full winter gear, complete with large mittens. Although most of the internet saw Sanders as an old man simply trying to stay warm, a San Francisco teacher went out on a liberal limb to proclaim that Bernie Sanders was exercising his “white privilege and male privilege” at the inauguration for being “allowed” to dress down and wear winter clothing.
The internet piece by Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, a high school teacher, was published in the San Francisco Chronicle as an op-ed. It appeared in the newspaper about two weeks after Sanders’s image went viral as an internet meme following the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
She wrote of her outrage at seeing Bernie Sanders on the internet: “And there, across all of our news and social media feeds, was Bernie: Bernie memes, Bernie sweatshirts, endless love for Bernie. I puzzled and fumed as an individual as I strove to be my best possible teacher. What did I see? What did I think my students should see? A wealthy, 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.”
She continued, “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.”
She went on, by writing: “when they saw Sen. Bernie Sanders manifesting privilege when seemingly no one else did, I struggled to explain that disparity. 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.’ Not so sweet? The blindness I see, of so many (Bernie included), to the privileges Bernie represents. I don’t know many poor, or working-class, or female, or struggling-to-be-taken-seriously folk who would show up at the inauguration of our 46th president dressed like Bernie unless those same folk had the privilege. Which they don’t.”
However, the facts are a bit different. Not only did Sanders use his internet fame to raise more than $1.8 million for charity, but he was also able to give that money to people who need it most.
“When he turned around and used that moment to raise millions for a charity that was also traumatizing for my students too,” wrote Jordan Uhl.
Others, who were not fans of Sanders, nevertheless defended his clothing choice.
“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 one Twitter user in response to the San Francisco op-ed.
Do you think this photo of Sanders is a display of his white privilege?
Every time you share an AWM story, you help build a home for a disabled veteran.