A California mom saw Syrian refugees struggling to carry their babies, so she did something.

It's a positively heartbreaking situation: Syrian refugees are arriving in Greece by the boatload — quite literally. If they survive the first part of the journey, they can then face hundreds of miles of walking to reach their next destination.

If you watch the news footage, you may notice something:


There are lots of Syrian moms, dads, and caregivers with babies.

After crossing the Aegean Sea from Turkey, a Syrian couple holds their twin babies on the Greek island of Lesbos. Photo by Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP/Getty Images.

Babies too young to walk.

A Syrian mother, holding her one-month-old son after arriving in Lesbos from Turkey. Photo by Iakovos Hatzistavrou/AFP/Getty Images.

Babies that must be carried...

Remaining images in this article are via "Today."

...and carried. Despite cold and exhaustion.

California mom Cristal Logothetis noticed. After she saw the viral photo of the young Syrian boy who drowned as his family was trying to reach safety, she — like so many of us — was deeply moved.

"When I saw that picture, I didn't just see a little boy face-down on the sand," Logothetis told "Today." "I saw what could have been my son."

Logothetis and her son.

When we're so overwhelmed with emotion, it's easy to feel paralyzed. What can I possibly do in the face of so much tragedy?

So much! We can do so much.

Logothetis wasn't just moved emotionally; she was moved to do something. "It compelled me into action," she said. And action is what she took.

Logothetis started to collect baby carriers* to deliver to the Syrian families arriving in Greece with babies and young children.

*You know, those things we Americans like to use for convenience to keep our hands free or bonding with our babies, often referring to the practice as baby-wearing.

At first, she didn't think her plans would go very far. But she was wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

Tons of people were more than happy to help. In fact, they were honored to do so, with many attaching notes of encouragement and love to the donated carriers.

In addition to receiving donated carriers, Logothetis collected tens of thousands of dollars to purchase them.

After Logothetis had collected enough carriers to make a difference, she and 10 other moms headed to Greece.

There, they met families coming off boats and taught the moms and dads how to use the donated carriers.

One of the volunteers helping a family learn to use their new carrier. GIF by "Today."

Perhaps nearly as significant to the refugee families as the actual physical help is the simple knowledge that people care.

"All they're trying to do is get to a better place and protect their family," Logothetis said. "Not only do they have a problem solved for them by receiving a carrier, but they realize that people care about them, that people want to help."

One thing is for sure: A whole lot of people want to help.

"People out there, they really care. They do. They just need the right opportunity to get involved," Logothetis said. "If everybody does something, no matter how small or big, there will always be a positive impact on this planet."

It's easy to feel overwhelmed in moments of crisis. Sometimes, though, it's just a matter of looking in the right place.

As beloved TV personality Mister Rogers said: "Whenever there would be any catastrophe ... [my mom] would say, 'Always look for the helpers. There will always be helpers.' ... Because if you look for the helpers, you'll know that there's hope."

Well, we're looking at the helpers. And that means there's hope.

If you're interested in helping supply carriers for Syrian refugee families, you can visit the Carry the Future Facebook page to learn more about where to send your gently used carrier (or where to donate money).

And there are so many other easy ways to help! You can visit this page to find other organizations who are helping refugees and need support.

Watch the helpers from Carry the Future in this wonderful "Today" feature:

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Whenever someone's words or behavior are called out as racist, a few predictable responses always follow. One is to see the word "racist" as a vicious personal attack. Two is to vehemently deny that whatever was said or done was racist. And three is to pull out the dictionary definition of racism to prove that the words or behavior weren't racist.

Honestly, as soon as someone refers to the dictionary when discussing racism, it's clear that person has never delved deeply into trying to understand racism. It's a big old red flag, every time.

I'm not an expert on race relations, but I've spent many years learning from people who are. And I've learned that the reality of racism is nuanced and complex, and resorting to a short dictionary definition completely ignores that fact. The dictionary can't include all of the ways racism manifests in individuals and society, and the limitations of dictionary definitions make it a poor tool for discussing the topic.

Since "racism" is such a loaded term for many people, let's look at such limitations through a different complex word. Let's take "anxiety." According to Merriam-Webster, "anxiety" is defined as "apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness, usually over an impending or anticipated ill."

Now imagine thinking that you understand everything that encompasses anxiety from reading that dictionary definition. Imagine thinking you could recognize the signs of anxiety in someone based on that definition alone. Ridiculous, right? The dictionary doesn't explain that some people's anxiety manifests as anger, even though it does. It doesn't say that anxiety sometimes manifests as withdrawal or aloofness. It doesn't say that you often won't see obvious signs of fear or nervousness in someone experiencing anxiety.

The dictionary doesn't offer anything close to the reality of what anxiety is or looks like. It would be silly to say that someone isn't experiencing anxiety because they're not clearly showing signs of nervousness like the dictionary definition implies. Just as the dictionary definition of anxiety is not comprehensive, neither is the dictionary definition of racism. Yet people keep using it to "prove" that something or someone isn't racist.

Fox News analyst Brit Hume just pulled that trick on Twitter to try to back up his claim that Donald Trump's "go back to" statements to four Congresswomen of color weren't technically racist.


The first Merriam-Webster entry for "racism" reads "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race."

Merriam-Webster

First of all, I'm not sure how this definition actually makes Trump's statements not racist. A belief is not always conscious, so even assuming that his racism is unconscious, a white man telling four women of color to "go back to" their countries of origin—despite three of them being born in the U.S. and the fourth being a naturalized citizen of the U.S.—is pretty objectively racist. No one knows exactly what is going on in the President's head, but such statements only being made to women of color would certainly be consistent with the behavior of someone with a belief in white people's inherent superiority.

But that simple definition isn't truly definitive, either. Shortly after Hume's tweet, Merriam-Webster pointed out a usage note for the word "racism," which clarifies that dictionaries do not provide the be-all-end-all definition of words.

Anti-racism advocates have tried time and time again to explain that racism is not as straightforward as someone saying, "I think I'm superior to people who don't share my skin color." Racism is almost never that blatant, and yet oodles of Americans refuse to call anything less than that kind of bold statement "racism." We have a long history showing exactly how white supremacy—the origin of racism in the U.S.—exerts itself in both strong and subtle ways, and thousands of hours and pages of education from experts describing how racism works on an individual and societal level. But people still insist on the simplistic narrative of "Racism=hating people of a different race."

I've seen many people, including Brit Hume, argue that the word racism has lost all meaning. Frankly, that's a copout. Racism—as both a conscious or unconscious belief of racial superiority and as a system of racial prejudice blended with power dynamics—has a broader meaning than one person hating another person for the color of their skin. But that doesn't make it meaningless.

I've also seen people complain that "everything is racist these days," but no, it's really not. We simply understand more about racism now, thanks to the field of race studies and to people of color offering their time and energy to explain it, so it's easier to identify in its various forms. In my experience, when someone's understanding of racism reaches a certain stage, they start recognizing it in places where ignorance or unconscious bias may have caused them to miss it in the past. That's not imagining racism where it doesn't exist or "calling everything racist these days"; that's simply seeing reality more clearly.

When you really dive deep into the historical, psychological, and sociological reality of racism in America, it becomes painfully obvious that racism is far more prevalent and enmeshed in our society than most people think. Until defensive, mostly-white folks stop automatically denying racism every time the word is used and stop throwing around dictionaries to avoid having to do that deep dive work, we're not going to make real headway on this issue.

Let's stop pretending that the definition and supposed overuse of the word "racism" is the problem, when the problem is racism, period.

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