Meanwhile, On TumblR: Miss Major, The Revolutionary Mom-In-Chief, And The Racialized Politics Of Teaching Chinese To Black And Latin@ Kids

By Andrea Plaid

I lucked out in following people (and people who follow people) who post about issues concerning trans*/gender-variant and genderqueer/intersex (TGI) people, especially TGI people of color–as well as TGI people themselves–in the Tumblrverse. One trans* heroine of color reblogged on the R’s Tumblr is Miss Major (pictured below),

Courtesy: womenwhokickass

who, according to womenwhokickass:

  • was at the Stonewall uprisings in ’69, and became politicized in the aftermath at Attica. She has been an activist and advocate in her community for over forty years, mentoring and empowering many of today’s transgender leaders to stand tall, step into their own power, and defend their human rights, from coast to coast.
  • testified at to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland about the abuses of transgender women of color in and out of the Prison Industrial Complex in the US.

Speaking of women of color kicking ass, Racialicious homie Tami Winfrey Harris went in on the “white feminist chattering class” in her Clutch magazine post on how they seriously missed the point on why FLOTUS Michelle Obama calling herself “Mom-In-Chief” is a revolutionary act:

In her much-talked-about speech, last Wednesday, at the Democratic National Convention, Obama said her most important role is “mom-in-chief.” In analysis, this pronouncement along with the fact that Obama declined to talk about her own impressive career, was found disappointing by many in the white feminist chattering class.

White feminists who acknowledge Obama’s blackness, and the stereotypes attached to it, believe her “momification” is a shrewdly calculated answer to attacks on her as “Stokely Carmichael in a dress.” In her article, Malone endorses a similar analysis by Rebecca Traister in Salon. It is as if, even these smart women cannot believe that, alongside strong, black womanhood, Michelle Obama might have a nurturing, maternal side that is not politically manufactured but a part of who she is.

In contrast to some of the mainstream feminist analysis of Michelle Obama and her role in the White House, I have heard from many black women, including feminist ones, who are delighted to see an African American woman publicly celebrated in ways that we commonly are not. Michelle Obama is–refreshingly for many of us–lauded for being nurturing, beautiful and stylish as well as whip smart, athletic and strong. And we imagine that Obama has the strength to make her needs known and that if she has, for now, chosen motherhood, that it is the role she wants. She is a black woman free to make that choice. These things are revolutionary for black women, even if some white women see business as usual.

and from the numbers, Tumblizens gave Winfrey Harris’ post some major love.

I also had to give some shine to Calvin Ho’s excellent analysis on the pros and cons of teaching Black and Latin@ students Chinese:

Learning a language requires learning cultural sensitivity. Furthermore, for native speakers of the world’s dominant international language, attempting a foreign language is a symbolic act bridging a gap of privilege with their interlocutors. In calling Spanish “our past,” Dallemand implies that Latinos and Latin Americans are not worthy of engagement on equal terms. Spanish speakers are backwards. They are no longer important. Chinese offers more opportunity to our children.

But does it really? Can learning Chinese open doors for everyone? While I strongly believe in foreign language education for all, and in the cognitive, social, and occupational advantages that foreign language study brings, using Chinese on the job or in everyday life is not necessarily practical or imaginable for all students, especially lower-income students in a largely black-white part of the country. When you don’t reinforce language through use, the skills wither away. When opportunities for using the language seem out of reach, the motivation disappears.

The push to learn Chinese is framed in purely economic and geopolitical terms. When these motivations are rendered moot by the inequality of opportunities, what is left?

Check out what and who else the R is Tumblring!