Skip to Content

If You See Something, Say Something

And now a feel-good moment brought to you by Facebook, hand sanitizer, and some pretty decent people.

Over the weekend, attorney Gregory Locke boarded New York City’s Number One subway train and saw this:

“I got on the subway in Manhattan tonight and found a Swastika on every advertisement and every window. The train was silent as everyone stared at each other, uncomfortable and unsure what to do.”

He shared the moment in a Facebook post that has since gotten almost 470,000 views. From the rest of his post:

One guy got up and said, ‘Hand sanitizer gets rid of Sharpie. We need alcohol.’ He found some tissues and got to work.

I’ve never seen so many people simultaneously reach into their bags and pockets looking for tissues and Purel. Within about two minutes, all the Nazi symbolism was gone.

Nazi symbolism. On a public train. In New York City. In 2017.

‘I guess this is Trump’s America,’ said one passenger. No sir, it’s not. Not tonight and not ever. Not as long as stubborn New Yorkers have anything to say about it.

Sometimes it seems the key to life is a matter of figuring out how to move past the awkward and toward something good. And subways can be a hotbed of awkward—they’re public, physically uncomfortable, and you’re surrounded by strangers, all of whom are just trying to get somewhere else unscathed. And the interaction etiquette is pretty specific: Keep touching, talking, and eye-contact to a minimum, don’t hog the pole, and don’t turn a thing into a thing. It’s a mobile “third place”—except without the coffee or charm.

So when a leaderless team spontaneously forms to solve a nasty problem that everyone is suddenly having, it feels like a special moment.

But it could have been just another ride downtown. I think about what it would have been like if everyone had stayed quiet, and gotten off at their stop feeling worried and disgusted. Wondering if they had been riding the subway with a potential Nazi troll for years. Re-playing in their heads all the things they should have said or done. And telling their friends a different story later that night, one without the happy ending of a newly hand-sanitized subway and the sudden realization that they are not alone.

On Point

Neo-Nazis celebrate a proposed change to hate crime managementAfter the Trump administration indicated that it plans to remove white nationalists and other extremist hate groups from the government’s “Countering Violent Extremism,” database program to focus only on Islamic groups, experts were alarmed. Turns out, their fears were justified. “[I]t just couldn’t ever get any better than this,” wrote Andrew Anglin, founder of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer in a blog post. “We helped get Trump get elected, and the fact of the matter is, without Alt-Right meme magick, it simply wouldn’t have happened,” he said. “Donald Trump is setting us free.”Diversity Inc

Elon Musk’s Tesla and Space-X join 97 other companies in legal brief against President Trump’s travel ban
The collective companies, including Fortune giants Apple, Microsoft, Intel, Facebook, and Google, have all signed on to the amicus brief stating that the ban “inflicts significant harm on American business,” including their employees and customers. Musk, the CEO of both Tesla and Space-X, has been on the defensive lately for his association with two advisory councils to the president. His argument is simple: Not being in the room is the bigger risk. “At my request, the agenda for yesterday’s White House meeting went from not mentioning the travel ban to having it be first and foremost,” he tweeted.
Fortune

Katie Couric and Nat Geo team up for a groundbreaking documentary on gender identity
After famously asking transgender activist and entertainer Carmen Carrera about the state of her “private parts” on-air in 2014, Couric knew she’d become part of the problem. Her solution was to co-produce a lengthy documentary called “Gender Revolution,” now airing on National Geographic. “I brought a respectful curiosity,” Couric told raceAhead. Couric does a remarkable job handing the mic to transgender people and their families, while she leads us through both the science and lived experiences of gender identity. The film has been lauded by the Human Rights Campaign and others, but I watched a screening with many of the people in the film. Their candor and enthusiastic endorsement sold me. A must watch.
The Wrap

Video: California deputy threatened to invent charges to put a man in jail
The man in question, Duncan Hicks, had come into the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s office to file a child custody-related incident report, but was mocked for having “baby drama” and turned away. When he came back to ask for the deputy’s badge number, he recorded the subsequent encounter, in which he was threatened with imprisonment. “I’ll create something, you understand? You’ll go to jail. You understand that?” After reviewing the video, the San Bernardino Sheriff said his employee’s responses were “not consistent” with good customer service. Yes he did.
Los Angeles Times

A new program designed to help young California Dreamers thrive in college is working
The University of California at Merced is a shiny outlier in the state’s mostly agricultural, mostly poor Central Valley. The campus is 12 years old. While 70% of the student body are the first in their families to attend college, some 5% are undocumented immigrants—the kids of farm laborers, contractors, and house maids. It’s here that a new program, the Fiat Lux Scholars, is helping first-generation, low-income students navigate the unique environment of college by offering a pedagogical bridge to academic life. But a big part of the solution has been one of fellowship: Helping them help each other.
New York Times

Literary agents collectively call for submissions from Muslim writers
Trump’s Muslim ban unites once again. This time, it’s a group of literary agents who have made a special, collective plea for submissions from Muslim writers in all categories of children’s and adult’s fiction and non-fiction books. “The events following Trump’s executive order on January 27, 2017, deeply shocked and saddened all of us,” the agents wrote in a statement. “The messages of fear and discrimination against Muslims within this country and to those outside its borders are not ones that reflect our own beliefs and understanding.” Please share.
Publisher's Weekly

The Woke Leader

On being black, successful, and deeply afraid
You know these people. They’re accomplished and busy. He’s Ivy League educated and an attorney, she’s both a Methodist pastor and a consultant. They have three extraordinary sons. Their 5,800 square foot home has five bedrooms, tennis courts, and a diving pool. “We did everything America said we should do,” says Frances Waters of their perfect sounding life. But once they step out of their familiar circles in tony North Dallas, they’re nothing but black—ignored by hospitality staff, under suspicion by others. The microagressions and “racism management” is taking a toll. “We’re unprotected out in the world,” she says.
Dallas

George Takei, a Japanese internment camp survivor, has a message for Muslims
Takei was in the middle of making a musical on the painful subject of Japanese internment when candidate Trump began talking about banning all Muslims. “It was an echo of the kind of statements Japanese-Americans had heard in 1941 and ’42,” says Takei. He shares painful memories of the hate speech and fear that preceded the internment of his family with Mic’s Sarah Harvard, a young Muslim American, explaining how it fueled his life-long civil rights activism. Don’t stop, he says. “[I]f you really believe in a participatory democracy, we’ve got to actively engage in the process to make it a truer and better and more diverse form of government.”
Mic

An interview with Ford Foundation chief, Darren Walker
Walker has become a legend in corporate and philanthropic circles, and this extended audio interview with CNBC’s Jon Fortt shows why. Growing up poor in rural Texas, Walker leapfrogged from Head Start to Wall Street riches in the 1980s, to now run the multi-billion Ford Foundation, which is focused on global social justice. His best advice for progress and policy change is empathy. “People like you and me, who are black, sometimes need to put ourselves in the shoes of white people, to understand what may be happening to them,” he says. “Because I think that there are many white Americans – upstanding, outstanding citizens—who are hurting, and they don’t feel that the system is working for them.” 
Fort Knox Podcast

Quote

White supremacy is the conscious or unconscious belief or the investment in the inherent superiority of some, while others are believed to be innately inferior. And it doesn’t demand the individual participation of the singular bigot. It is a machine operating in perpetuity, because it doesn’t demand that somebody be in place driving.
—Michael Eric Dyson