On a beautiful Tuesday morning, a customer pulled up to Frank Todaro's Buffalo, New York, body shop in a silver truck covered in ugly racial slurs.

"I noticed the shop got real quiet, so I turned around and I saw this graffiti with terrible language on it. And I was like, ‘Wow is this really happening?'" recalls Todaro.

Photo by Collision Masters/Facebook.


Henry King, the truck's owner, told WKBW that the graffiti appeared the morning after an altercation with two neighbors, who allegedly told the South Buffalo resident, "We'll get you kicked off this street. You don't belong here."

Police are still investigating the incident.

"I really didn’t ask any questions — how, what, why. I just knew we had to get that off," Todaro says.

Like a NASCAR pit crew, Todaro's team jumped in and scrubbed the car clean. The paint was off in 30 minutes.

After finding the right chemical to remove the paint, seven or eight of the shop's technicians worked on the truck until the graffiti was removed, according to Todaro.

Photo by Collision Masters LLC/Facebook.

"It was nice to have that feeling around the shop that everyone came together and cared for someone else," Todaro said.

When the cleanup was complete, Todaro refused to take King's money.

“Buffalo is the city of good neighbors. That’s our foundation. We should be known for that," he said.

Todaro posted about the encounter on Facebook, where his account quickly went viral.

Many commenters praised the shop for quickly and selflessly supporting a neighbor.

Other Buffalo residents noted that the attack accurately reflects their experiences of racism in the city and urged their neighbors to do better.

"After the first day of just watching this go viral and people commenting, sharing their own opinions and their own experiences, I’m like, 'Wow, there is a problem out there, and you know what, if I’m going to be that guy that kind of gets things going and hopefully more positive comes out. I am all about it," Todaro says of the reactions to the post.

Todaro and his team received a proclamation from Buffalo's mayor and calls from local politicians in the days since the spur-the-moment repair.

King, too, called to express his thanks.  

Still, the shop owner says, the experience has taught him that when it comes to bigotry and racism, there are still many repairs to make.

"We won the battle on this one, but we've still gotta win the war."

I'll say this up front so that there's zero confusion: Child sex trafficking is real, it's heinous, and it's been going on for a long time. Everyone who buys or sells a child or partakes in harming a child in any way should be prosecuted and punished to the full extent of the law. There is no place in civil society for people who sexually abuse children or who profit off of the abuse of children. Full stop. No question.

But we have careened into some twisted waters in our social discourse around child sex trafficking, to the point where the real issue of is being conflated with outrageous conspiracy theories that deflect from the real work being done to save children, put innocent people in harm's way, and interfere with the integrity of our elections.

I wrote about this issue recently and was met with accusations of being paid off by powerful pedophiles (ugh, seriously?), a flood of people saying "No, you're wrong!" while offering zero evidence, and a bunch of YouTube and Facebook videos that people seem to think are credible sources. I got fake screenshots of supposed Wikileaks emails that aren't actually on Wikileaks when you search for them. I got people who only listen to fringe outlets that have no oversight or accountability claiming that my well-cited, real news sources were a part of the whole conspiracy. All of that stuff I could ignore. Whackadoodles are gonna whackadoodle no matter how many facts you throw at them.

But I also got a few people sharing a list of nearly 100 politicians and other powerful people who have been convicted of child sex crimes. That was different, because it was factual.

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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

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Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

Two years ago, I got off the phone after an interview and cried my eyes out. I'd just spent an hour talking to Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad, an organization that helps fight child sex trafficking, and I just couldn't take it.

Ballard told me about how the training to go undercover as a child predator nearly broke him. He told me an eerie story of a trafficker who could totally compartmentalize, showing Ballard photos of kids he had for sale, then switching gears to proudly show him a photo of his own daughter on her bicycle, just as any parent would. He told me about how lucrative child trafficking is—how a child can bring in three or four times as much as a female prostitute—and how Americans are the industry's biggest consumers.

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Forrest Galante will never forget the first time he ever saw a shark in person. "I was 7 or 8 years old and was snorkeling with my grandfather," the outdoor adventure TV personality told Upworthy. "We were in Mozambique where I grew up and I was holding my grandfather's hand underwater as he guided me. It was a small reef shark. What seemed like this huge animal appeared out of nowhere, racing through the darkness and suddenly I was looking into its beautiful eyes. I was in awe but I also think I grabbed my granddad's hand just a little bit tighter."

25 years later, Galante, is a world-renowned conversation activist who hosts the Extinct or Alive program on Animal Planet. He has interacted with some of the planet's most intriguing and intimidating creatures but it's hard to think of a living creature that has more powerfully captured our collective imagination than sharks.

This year, Galante is hosting his schedule special as part of the legendary Shark Week series. In tonight's episode, Galante travels to the northeast coast of South Africa, the "Land of the Lost Sharks," where he looks to find the Pondicherry, a species of shark believed to have gone extinct decades ago.


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