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I Wanna Hold Your Hand

After a gay couple was attacked in an apparent hate crime in the Netherlands, their heterosexual countrymen began posting photos of themselves walking hand-in-hand under the hashtag #allemannenhandinhand, which translates as “all men, holding hands.”

The photos will bring joy to your hearts. Politicians, businessmen, professional athletes, even some police and clergy participated.

The couple, Jasper Vernes-Sewratan, 35, and Ronnie Sewratan-Vernes, 31, were walking home from a date night early Sunday morning when they encountered a group of teens who set upon them and reportedly beat them with bolt cutters. The two men had been holding hands when they were targeted. According to his public Facebook post about the incident, Jasper said that Ronnie lost at least five teeth in the attack. Although Facebook’s translation-to-English tool is a bit hinky, his anguish came through loud and clear. “That this can still happen in 2017 is incomprehensible and hard to understand because in the end, we are just Dutch in our own country, but it can’t be like that, apparently, in terms of homosexuality.”

The solidarity campaign began when Dutch magazine publisher Barbara Berend tweeted, “Kunnen deze hele week alle mannen (hetero en homo) alsjeblieft gewoon hand in hand lopen..” or, “Can this whole week all men (straight and gay) please just walk hand in hand..”

And they did! Dutch men did the work this week all over the world. Here are some employees of the Netherlands at the U.N. walking across Third Avenue in New York City. Here are men from the Dutch embassy in London. And Lodewijk Asscher, the Deputy Prime Minister posted a photo of himself strolling casually on the beach while holding hands with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch Finance Minister.

Allyship can be a tricky thing, but this worked. The notion of men who don’t typically hold hands walking around in full clasp is just awkward enough to be a compelling visual, but the sweet matter-of-factness of the participants kept the campaign from turning into a distraction. It was also a reminder that a true heart can still beat under a power tie, which, to be honest, can be easy to forget.

To be an ally is to take a risk. Now, the straight men in the photos are probably not in danger of being beaten for their actions, though some will get some trash thrown at them on social media. And they now have a lovely memento of themselves being part of something good. But I’m thinking about the idea phase of this operation. The men who planned and staged the pictures, and the ones who fell silent and ultimately opted out. Maybe someone said something homophobic. Maybe a closeted person felt fear. I’m thinking about the conversations that might not have gone so well, as colleagues and loved ones found themselves on opposite sides of a line that nobody knew was there.

That’s the other risk that allies face. By taking a stand for someone else, people can send disruptive ripples through their actual relationships. Staying connected to those on the other side of the line is a different sort of work, and allies do it every day, away from the praise of columnists, without a hashtag to keep them company.

On Point

A look back at how the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize gay marriageOn April 1, 2001, a few seconds after midnight, the mayor of Amsterdam became the first registrar in the world to marry a same-sex couple. That momentous night came about through a combination of many events, but the effort was catalyzed by Dutch Catholics who differ from the official Catholic Church in their acceptance of homosexual people. It was “the Catholic psychiatric hospitals, facing a great number of severely depressed homosexual patients, who started to raise their voices against discrimination,” a French sociologist told Euronews. He went on to explain that as a minority party in the country, the Catholics tend to be more progressive. The history is fascinating, but this story (from 2013) also reveals that homophobia was and is still a big problem.Euronews

Why was the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad so terrible?
I don’t want to belabor this thing (that is a complete lie, I absolutely do) but it’s worth unpacking why such a major brand, spending so much time and money, could end up with a product that so completely misses the mark. To that end, The Washington Post’s Elahe Izadi, does us a service with a second-by-second breakdown of what exactly went wrong. The critique, while very funny, actually hits upon it right away. The ad failed because it cynically co-opted deeply meaningful ideas and turned them into something that meant absolutely nothing. “The ad contains images of protesters. People standing up for things. What are those things? Is Kendall proclaiming #BlackLivesMatter? Is this the Resistance? Unclear! But drink Pepsi!”
Washington Post

Where is the Serena Williams of tech?
After Kimberly Bryant, the founder of Black Girls Code wondered aloud who were the tech superstars that kids today could look up to, a fascinating twitter conversation unfolded. Jewel Burks, the founder of PartPic, followed up with an exhaustive list of tech talent of color who have the brilliance and potential to “change the game” in significant ways. I hadn’t heard of many of them, and she offers several easy ways that you can amplify their work and reach. Some, like Pigeonly, a platform that helps incarcerated people communicate affordably with their families, are hiring. Click through to find potential keynotes, panelists, tech partners, and cover story candidates.

There’s a reason why authoritarians attack the arts
In the aftermath of the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to the National Endowment for the Arts, writer and scholar Eve Ewing debunks the math behind the move. “As critics have observed, this amount is about 0.004 percent of the federal budget, making the move a fairly inefficient approach to trimming government spending,” she begins. But then she puts attacks on the arts into historical context. It’s not about the money, she argues, it’s about control. “Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders,” she writes. “Art teaches us that lives other than our own have value.” This makes for trouble for those who seek power. “[A]rtists who occupy marginalized social positions can use their art to challenge structures of power in ways that would otherwise be dangerous or impossible.”
New York Times

Pierre Omidyar’s charity gives $100 million to fight hate speech and support investigative journalism
The announcement was made yesterday at the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship, and is the largest-ever contribution from the Omidyar Network, Stephen King, who heads their civic engagement initiative, told the Washington Post. The money will be given over a three-year period. Early recipients will include The Anti-Defamation League, which plans to build a state-of-the-art command center in Silicon Valley to fight hate speech online, and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which was responsible for the investigation known as the Panama Papers that revealed widespread corporate tax evasion.
Washington Post

As federal budget cuts loom, tribal leaders fear no infrastructure commitments will be kept
Tribal leaders had worked closely with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs this winter, making detailed asks in the hopes that some of the money from the president’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure program would come their way. Some 80% of roads under the Bureau of Indian Affairs control are “unacceptable,” said one leader, and most Indian health care facilities are 40 years old—four times the age of most non-Indian health facilities. All buildings need significant upgrades. Water and sanitation needs are also high on the list. And what continues to rankle is the disregard of treaty agreements that should guarantee necessary funds. “We shouldn’t have to file lawsuits to get our rights protected,” said Jon Whirlwind Horse, of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. “We need to get away from the bureau system.”
Indian Country Media Network

The Woke Leader

Why don’t we believe fat people are worth fighting for?
Writer Ijeoma Oluo has been a long-time supporter of fat acceptance and body positivity, and an eloquent explainer of how people struggle with the expectations and elevation of thinness in society. So how about some solidarity? When she asked her typically “woke” thin followers why they continued to shop in stores that don’t offer fashionable plus-size clothing, she was surprised by the defensive responses in her comments. “As fat women told stories of the pain and humiliation they’ve experienced when trying to find something—anything—in stores that fits, people doubled down on their dismissals, showing little empathy,” she writes. Her conclusion? “The vast majority of Western society—regardless of faith, race, or political affiliation—does not believe that the dignity of fat people is worth even the slightest bit of effort in defending.”
The Establishment

Watching Ghost in The Shell while Japanese
The whitewashing controversy around the movie version of the classic Japanese manga, Ghost In The Shell, sparked a fascinating conversation—that is, if you don’t mind the spoilers for the film you’re probably not going to see. Four Japanese women, all professional actors, watched the film and share their reactions, but the conversation quickly expands to their lives, career struggles and the race-based biases embedded in Japanese culture. “Yes! I felt more messed up watching this movie. It reinforced my own personal messed-up standards of physical beauty,” says one. “People in Japan worship white people,” declares another. “It’s this weird thing where Asian Americans or Asian nationals living here like me, working in film, are fighting both our motherland and white producers here. We’re walking this in-between where I scream at Hollywood but I’m also like, “Why’d you do that, Japan?!” Et tu, Brute, on both sides.”
Hollywood Reporter

On being an Asian stereotype in the American heartland
Canwen Xu is a charming 18-year-old with a wicked sense of humor; she plays with the burden of being seen as foreign in her homeland, of being given credit for strengths she doesn’t have as “model minority,” and for deficits she doesn’t deserve. (She’s a fine driver, thank you very much.) “Having grown up in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho—states with very little racial diversity—it was difficult to reconcile my exotic Chinese heritage with my mainstream American self,” she says. She does a beautiful job describing what it’s like to be part of a culture, yet outside of it. “For the longest time, I formed my identity around being different, and I thought that being Asian was the only special thing about me.”
TEDx Boise


You’ve got a friend in me/ You’ve got troubles, and I’ve got ’em too/ There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for you/ We stick together and can see it through/ ‘Cause you’ve got a friend in me
—Randy Newman