via Cosmic Toro / Instagram

There is no playbook for how to deal with someone going on a racist rant in public. But the way server Gennica Cochran handled a bigot demeaning a table of Asian customers is something we can all applaud.

She was working as a server at a Camel Valley restaurant near San Francisco when Michael Lofthouse, CEO of tech firm Solid8, began harassing an Asian family celebrating a birthday.

Lofthouse had been belligerent all night, changing his seat and repeatedly sending back food.

After going on an expletive-laden racist rant at the family for singing "Happy Birthday," Jordan Chan, pulled out his cellphone, began recording Lofthouse, asking him to, "Say that again."



Karen Kicked Out Of Fancy Carmel Valley Restaurant For Being A Racist Dbag To Asian Customer! www.youtube.com

For a few moments Lofthouse was silent, knowing that he was being filmed, but then flipped off the camera, got up from his table and said, "Trump's going to fuck you!"

Cochran then stepped in, confidently shouting, "You need to leave right now. Get out, you are not allowed here, get out now. You do not talk to our guests like that, they are valued guests, you are not allowed here ever again!"

As Lofthouse put his jacket to leave he called the family "Asian pieces of shit."

Cochran pointed her finger directly at Lofthouse and said, "You are not allowed here ever again."

The video is a perfect example of someone having absolutely zero tolerance for racist behavior. She doesn't feel the need to be gentle about her disgust with the grinning, smug Lofthouse.

Nope, she put her foot down, pointed at him and told him his actions will not be tolerated and that he needs to go immediately. Cochran was even a bit surprised with herself after seeing the video.

"To hear the emotion coming out of my voice, to see my mannerisms, it was unbelievable. It was just something that came over me and I just did what needed to be done," she told ABC News. "I did what anybody else should or would do in that situation."

The server says her strength came from the compassion she felt for the family.

"I felt very protective of them," she said. "You don't come in here and say those kinds of things to people. Especially people feel so raw coming out of quarantine. Most of these people this is the first time that they've been out to dinner and then you have someone attacking them it was just no, no, I don't have time for this."

The incident put her in touch with her mamma bear instincts.

"I'm not a mother, but I felt almost maternal," she said. "Right, like this is my family and I will take care of them and I will do whatever I can to protect these people. To have someone hate you just because of the way that you look, that's beyond me. I don't understand it."

After the incident, Lofthouse apologized for his behavior.

"My behavior in the video is appalling. This was clearly a moment where I lost control and made incredibly hurtful and divisive comments," Lofthouse said.

"I would like to deeply apologize to the Chan family. I can only imagine the stress and pain they feel," he added.

Chan isn't buying the apology and blames Donald Trump for inciting his racist tirade. "He's just saving face. I think he really meant what he said and what he did," Chan told The Washington Post.

"The fact that Donald Trump is our president … gives racists a platform and amplifies voices of hate," she wrote. "The surfacing of racists is so prevalent right now, even in such an ethnically/culturally diverse and liberal state like California, because Trump HIMSELF uses his position to incite racial tension."

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump has routinely called the virus the "China Virus" and the "Kung-Flu."

Cochran's behavior in the face of disgusting racism that night is a perfect display of the power of direct action. Her handling of the situation has won her tens of thousands of dollars in donations.

A GoFundMe campaign entitled, "A Bg Tip for an everyday Hero" started by Jeremy Stephens, a complete stranger inspired by her actions, has already earned her $41,000 in "tips."

The server and yoga instructor believes that her actions on that day instilled an attitude she will hold to forever. "It's not something that I will condone ever again, being silent," she said.

After seeing how she handled the situation, there's no doubt she's inspired countless others to take the same stance.

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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True

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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