Reddit's co-founder explains why Lady Liberty's light is dimming in an emotional letter.

This post, written for Reddit on Jan. 30, 2017, was intended to be an open letter to encourage other American Redditors to share their own or their family's immigration stories. Within nine hours, it had a record score of over 90,000 points and over 25,000 comments. Many of these stories were far more eloquent and moving than my own. You can read them here.

After two weeks abroad, I was looking forward to returning to the U.S., but as I got off the plane at LAX on Sunday, I wasn't sure what country I was coming back to.

President Trump’s recent executive order is not only potentially unconstitutional, but deeply un-American. We are a nation of immigrants, after all. In the tech world, we often talk about a startup’s "unfair advantage" that allows it to beat competitors. Welcoming immigrants and refugees has been our country's unfair advantage, and coming from an immigrant family has been mine as an entrepreneur.


Protesters hold signs during a demonstration at LAX on Jan. 29, 2017, against the immigration ban imposed by Trump. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

I am the son of an undocumented immigrant from Germany and the great-grandson of refugees who fled the Armenian genocide.

A little over a century ago, a Turkish soldier decided my great-grandfather was too young to kill after cutting down his parents in front of him; instead of turning the sword on the boy, the soldier sent him to an orphanage. Many Armenians, including my great-grandmother, found sanctuary in Aleppo, Syria — before the two reconnected and found their way to Ellis Island. Thankfully they weren't retained, rather they found this message:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

My great-grandfather didn’t speak much English, but he worked hard, and was able to get a job at Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company in Binghamton, New York. That was his family's golden door. Though he and my great-grandmother had four children, all born in the U.S., immigration continued to reshape their family, generation after generation. The one son they had — my grandfather — volunteered to serve in World War II and married a French-Armenian immigrant. My mother, a native of Hamburg, Germany, decided to leave her friends, family, and education behind after falling in love with my father, who was born in San Francisco.

She got a work visa as an au pair in the U.S., uprooting her entire life for love in a foreign land. After she and my father married, she received a green card, which she kept for over a decade until she became a citizen. I grew up speaking German, but she insisted I focus on my English in order to be successful. She eventually got her citizenship and I’ll never forget her swearing-in ceremony.

If you’ve never seen people taking the pledge of allegiance for the first time as U.S. citizens, it will move you: a room full of people who can really appreciate what I was lucky enough to grow up with, simply by being born in Brooklyn. It thrills me to write reference letters for enterprising founders who are looking to get visas to start their companies here, to create value and jobs for these United States.

My forebears were brave refugees who found a home in this country.

I’ve always been proud to live in a country that said yes to these shell-shocked immigrants from a strange land, that created a path for a woman who wanted only to work hard and start a family here.

Without them, there’s no me and there’s no Reddit.

We are Americans. Let’s not forget that we’ve thrived as a nation because we’ve been a beacon for the courageous — the tired, the poor, the tempest-tossed.

Lady Liberty’s lamp is dimming, which is why it's more important than ever we speak out and show up to support all those for whom it shines — past, present, and future.

I ask you to do this however you see fit, whether it's calling your representative (this works, it's how we defeated SOPA and PIPA), marching in protest, donating to the ACLU, or of course, voting — and not just for presidential elections.

Our platform, like our country, thrives the more people and communities we have within it. Reddit, Inc. will continue to welcome all citizens of the world to our digital community and our office.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
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This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

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The Schmidt family's Halloween photoshoot has become an annual tradition.

Two of Patti Schmidt's three sons were already well into adulthood when her daughter Avery was born, and the third wasn't far behind them. Avery, now 5, has never had the pleasure of close-in-age sibling squabbles or gigglefests, since Larry, Patrick, and Gavin are 28, 26, and 22, respectively—but that doesn't mean they don't bond as a family.

According to People.com, Patti calls her sons home to Point Pleasant, New Jersey, every fall for a special Halloween photoshoot with Avery. And the results are nothing short of epic.

The Schmidt family started the tradition in 2017 with the boys dressing as the tinman, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion from "The Wizard of Oz." Avery, just a toddler at the time, was dressed as Dorothy, complete with adorable little ruby slippers.

The following year, the boys were Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, and Avery was (of course) Princess Leia.

In 2019, they did a "Game of Thrones" theme. ("My husband and I were binge-watching (Game of Thrones), and I thought the boys as dragons would be so funny," Schmidt told TODAY.)

In 2020, they went as Princess Buttercup, Westley, Inigo Montoya, and Fezzik from "The Princess Bride."

Patti shared a video montage of each year's costume shoot—with accompanying soundtracks—on Instagram and TikTok. Watch:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."