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Sandra Tsing Loh: like Oprah on Fire

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Sandra Tsing Loh holds court at Wordstock in Portland.

Sandra Tsing Loh holds court at Wordstock in Portland.

Live Wire! at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.

Live Wire! at the Aladdin Theater in Portland.




The food wasn’t even the highlight of the weekend in Portland. No, that was seeing Sandra Tsing Loh, the writer, comic performer and feminist first amendment icon turned public schools activist, who is just about my favorite person on the page these days. We especially love her bi-monthly column in The Atlantic.

At the Live Wire! radio show Saturday night, she read a five-minute stream from her new tome, Mother on Fire, squirming with nervous energy and flailing her arms as she recounted the woes of a 40-something perimenopausal woman clinging to her last strings of sanity, as she and her young children navigate the segregated, class-obsessed world of education in L.A.

But uncensored Sandra, holding court for a full hour at the Wordstock festival Sunday, proved to be the real treat. She lamented a feminist movement (though she embraces it) that drained our public schools of uniquely nurturing female genius, a movement that has never exalted the mothers-on-the-move powerhouse organization for change: the mighty P.T.A.

And she blasted politicians (Barack Obama included) and other journalists in the chattering classes for not putting their money where their mouth is by sending their children to public school. It’s like cops living in the suburbs, away from the violent inner-city districts they patrol, she said. They don’t have that same stake in the community where they work.

Readers chewed her out on an New York Times election blog for taking Obama and Biden to task for sending their children to private school while Sarah Palin sent her progeny to the humble little public school in Wasilla (granted there are less options there, and now post-campaign, they will surely go to Wasilla Prep:)). So President Obama, heed her call and send Sasha and Malia to D.C. public schools! Then the public might again worry more about our failing urban schools and less about the puppy you’re bringing to the White House.


Besides, Tsing Loh works a crowd just like your great supporter Oprah, bouncing around with a microphone to her seated audience members, treating them as equals as they ask a question to her face.

Written by baltimoregon

November 11, 2008 at 2:18 am

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