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As a Jewish woman, this anti-Semitic photo is a reminder of the pervasive threat of hate in 2020

In the midst of racial equality protests following the murder of George Floyd, a recent photo of college students with drawn-on swastikas on their shoulders surfaced—bringing me to tears.

It's hard to imagine Ryann Milligan, a Penn State student, who has been identified in a change.org petition, stands with her friends smiling proud, showing off their swastikas and anti-Semitism. All over the country, people are angry and hurting. These egregious acts tear us further apart.


The photo reminds me of the first time I saw a swastika tattoo. It was 2007, and I had just turned 21 years old, entering into my junior year at Temple University. I was moving into a new apartment in Philadelphia, bright-eyed and hopeful to be a journalist and graduate soon. My roommate at the time was dating a sweet guy, someone I had met through social circles and lived down the hall from me on campus the year before. He invited his friend, someone I had never met, to help us move all the heavy furniture. It was a sweltering day in Center City, temperatures nearing 100 degrees, pearlescent sweat mustaches dotted our upper lips and perspired our faces. The friend I never met before, peeled off his shirt, leaving his white chest exposed. There it was—the hooked cross swastika tattoo of oppression and symbol of hatred— right in front of me.

I stood there, alone with him, looking at this large swastika near his right shoulder. It was an immediate gut punch. I wondered if he knew I was Jewish? If he found out, would he harm me? Does he hate black people too? I thought about all the times I read about people like him. All the racism, prejudice, xenophobia and white supremacy that's continued to grow across the globe. I remembered my recent trip to Israel and the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. What about my great grandmother—she was 13 years old when she escaped Nazi Germany on a boat after her entire family was slaughtered in a concentration camp. I thought about all the Jews who have been discriminated against for centuries.

I was silent for a few minutes, but those minutes felt like hours. A phone went off. I ignored it. I stared at him a little longer. "You going to answer it?" he asked me. I gripped the cell phone to my chest. "You know I'm Jewish," I blurted out. He looked perplexed. I pointed to the swastika. "Oh, that," he said. "I got dared to get that one night. I was really drunk. It doesn't mean anything to me." I don't know what offended and enraged me more—that he dismissed it or that he didn't understand why it was a big deal.

He clearly knew very little about the history of Nazism. I felt like it was my responsibility to strengthen his understanding of what it meant. Knowledge was my way of responding to the hate and anti-Semitism. I told him how horrible it made me feel. I explained how Jewish people and black people take that symbol as a sucker punch in the face. To my surprise, he listened and then apologized. He told me he would get it covered up immediately. I hope he did.

Things like this continue to happen in our country. Let's not forget, less than three years ago, hundreds of white supremacists and neo-Nazis marched the streets of Charlottesville, Va., in the "Unite the Right" rally, protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. They brandished weapons and lit tiki torches, performing Nazi salutes and chanting "Jews will not replace us."

The rally turned violent when white supremacist James Field Jr. steered his Dodge Challenger into a peaceful crowed of counterprotesters, killing Heather Heyer and injuring many others. There was also the off-the-rails press conference with President Trump and his infamous quote: "You had some very fine people on both sides." It's difficult for things to actually change when the leader of our country doesn't fully condemn racism.

Seeing that picture of those young women really brought me back to that day in 2007. That was twelve years ago, but what has really changed? According to the NY Times, the Anti-Defamation League statistics reveal that anti-Semitism has more than doubled in the United States in 2018 over 2015. The question begs why would these young college girls do this? What were they thinking? It could be that they don't know better. Maybe they were raised like this. Maybe it was supposed to be a joke. Who knows.

The University responded to the image in a tweet stating, "We are disgusted by the behavior portrayed, which does not reflect our values. It is deeply troubling that as a society, we today are still facing racism." They also mentioned that they will continue to speak out against hateful speech, but they don't have the power to expel students over it, even if it is reprehensible. "But the University does have the power to condemn racism and address those who violate our values." However, theChange.org petition is asking for Milligan's removal at the college, which has garnered over 120,000 signatures so far.

In a time when our country is in turmoil, strife and demanding change, this can be a learning experience. When the women wash away the black ink swastikas on their skin, I hope they think about the visceral impact it's caused others. I can promise you that pain won't wash away as fast. Maybe they'll think about their actions—let's hope it's tattooed inside their brain. At least, this time, the ink wasn't permanent.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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via Pixabay

The show must go on… and more power to her.

There are few things that feel more awful than being stranded at the altar by your spouse-to-be. That’s why people are cheering on Kayley Stead, 27, from the U.K. for turning a day of extreme disappointment into a party for her friends, family and most importantly, herself.

According to a report in The Metro, on Thursday, September 15, Stead woke up in an Airbnb with her bridemaids, having no idea that her fiance, Kallum Norton, 24, had run off early that morning. The word got to Stead’s bridesmaids at around 7 a.m. the day of the wedding.

“[A groomsman] called one of the maids of honor to explain that the groom had ‘gone.’ We were told he had left the caravan they were staying at in Oxwich Bay (the venue) at 12:30 a.m. to visit his family, who were staying in another caravan nearby and hadn’t returned. When they woke in the morning, he was not there and his car had gone,” Jordie Cullen wrote on a GoFundMe page.

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All images provided by Bombas

We can all be part of the giving movement

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We all know that small acts of kindness can turn into something big, but does that apply to something as small as a pair of socks?

Yes, it turns out. More than you might think.

A fresh pair of socks is a simple comfort easily taken for granted for most, but for individuals experiencing homelessness—they are a rare commodity. Currently, more than 500,000 people in the U.S. are experiencing homelessness on any given night. Being unstably housed—whether that’s couch surfing, living on the streets, or somewhere in between—often means rarely taking your shoes off, walking for most if not all of the day, and having little access to laundry facilities. And since shelters are not able to provide pre-worn socks due to hygienic reasons, that very basic need is still not met, even if some help is provided. That’s why socks are the #1 most requested clothing item in shelters.

homelessness, bombasSocks are a simple comfort not everyone has access to

When the founders of Bombas, Dave Heath and Randy Goldberg, discovered this problem, they decided to be part of the solution. Using a One Purchased = One Donated business model, Bombas helps provide not only durable, high-quality socks, but also t-shirts and underwear (the top three most requested clothing items in shelters) to those in need nationwide. These meticulously designed donation products include added features intended to offer comfort, quality, and dignity to those experiencing homelessness.

Over the years, Bombas' mission has grown into an enormous movement, with more than 75 million items donated to date and a focus on providing support and visibility to the organizations and people that empower these donations. These are the incredible individuals who are doing the hard work to support those experiencing —or at risk of—homelessness in their communities every day.

Folks like Shirley Raines, creator of Beauty 2 The Streetz. Every Saturday, Raines and her team help those experiencing homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles “feel human” with free makeovers, haircuts, food, gift bags and (thanks to Bombas) fresh socks. 500 pairs, every week.

beauty 2 the streetz, skid row laRaines is out there helping people feel their beautiful best

Or Director of Step Forward David Pinson in Cincinnati, Ohio, who offers Bombas donations to those trying to recover from addiction. Launched in 2009, the Step Forward program encourages participation in community walking/running events in order to build confidence and discipline—two major keys to successful rehabilitation. For each marathon, runners are outfitted with special shirts, shoes—and yes, socks—to help make their goals more achievable.

step forward, helping homelessness, homeless non profitsRunning helps instill a sense of confidence and discipline—two key components of successful recovery

Help even reaches the Front Street Clinic of Juneau, Alaska, where Casey Ploof, APRN, and David Norris, RN give out free healthcare to those experiencing homelessness. Because it rains nearly 200 days a year there, it can be very common for people to get trench foot—a very serious condition that, when left untreated, can require amputation. Casey and Dave can help treat trench foot, but without fresh, clean socks, the condition returns. Luckily, their supply is abundant thanks to Bombas. As Casey shared, “people will walk across town and then walk from the valley just to come here to get more socks.”

step forward clinic, step forward alaska, homelessness alaskaWelcome to wild, beautiful and wet Alaska!

The Bombas Impact Report provides details on Bombas’s mission and is full of similar inspiring stories that show how the biggest acts of kindness can come from even the smallest packages. Since its inception in 2013, the company has built a network of over 3,500 Giving Partners in all 50 states, including shelters, nonprofits and community organizations dedicated to supporting our neighbors who are experiencing- or at risk- of homelessness.

Their success has proven that, yes, a simple pair of socks can be a helping hand, an important conversation starter and a link to humanity.

You can also be a part of the solution. Learn more and find the complete Bombas Impact Report by clicking here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


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