Justice for Ivanka’s Chinese Nanny, XiXi
Right now, Donald Trump is in China hamming it up with the
country’s authoritarian leader, President Xi Jinping, if you
couldn’t tell by his new very low-res Twitter banner:
In a move to woo over Xi, Trump forced the leader of China to
watch a video on his iPad of his granddaughter, Arabella
Kushner, singing in Mandarin. Arabella dedicates the video to
“Grandpa Xi” and “Grandma Peng” (Xi’s wife). Xi gives the video
an “A plus” while Trump states, “Very good right? She’s very
bleak as hell
This isn’t the first time Trump has utilized Arabella as a
diplomatic tool—back in April, when Xi visited Trump at
brought out her daughter to sing in Mandarin for the world
leaders. Ivanka has also trotted her out at the
Chinese embassy and posted
videos of her singing for Lunar New Year.
The reason why the Trumps keep flaunting Arabella’s language
skills is because the strategy works.
According to The Washington Post, a post of the
latest video on Weibo, China’s version of Facebook, generated
11.69 million views by Thursday evening. “Arabella as a small
messenger of Sino-American friendship is deeply loved by the
Chinese people. I believe it will also help to narrow the
feelings and distance between the peoples of China and the
United States,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua
Chunying said at a news conference.
But there is one actor who is consistently left out of the
Arabella-Trump-Xi diplomacy narrative: XiXi, Arabella’s Chinese
nanny who taught her how to speak Mandarin in the first place.
pointed out before, in the Trumps’ world, XiXi does not
exist. She is
only mentioned by name once in the entirety of
Ivanka’s book, Women Who Work, and that’s only in the
acknowledgements section. You could scroll for days on Ivanka’s
Instagram feed and not even know that she has employed nannies
to take care of her children. And, while Arabella’s grandfather
calls her “very smart,” he declines to acknowledge that XiXi is
the one who taught Arabella to speak Mandarin
even as she was learning to speak English.
We don’t know much about XiXi and I suppose that it is possible
(although very implausible) that she has fine working
conditions under Ivanka. But the fact is that in Trumpland,
XiXi has simply been erased from living memory, despite the
fact that the administration is profiting off of her labor on
the diplomatic world stage. Rendering XiXi invisible is an
integral part to Trump’s racist worldview, allowing him to
assert that Arabella’s skills are due to her “good, smart
genes” as he once stated in an
interview with The New York Times.
All of this is happening while the policies that Trump pushes
back home—rescinding DACA, undermining labor protections,
cutting back anti-poverty programs—are terrorizing the lives of
immigrant domestic workers across the country. But without the
very labor that the kleptocracy vilifies, none of Trump’s
Arabella-first diplomacy would be possible. Expunging XiXi’s
existence from the record is not an oversight—it’s a tool for
the wealthy to maintain their power.