Shout out to the resisters in the Nazi salute high school prom photo.

A bunch of high school boys took a junior prom photo while making a Nazi salute because, well, it's 2018.

The image is chilling. A group of about 50 teen boys smiling and laughing while the vast majority of them make what appears to be the "Sieg Heil" salute. An innocent misunderstanding? A silly, tasteless joke? An immature attempt at trolling? A bunch of white supremacists emboldened by our current political climate?

This is 2018, where anything is possible. But whatever it was, the photo of Baraboo, Wisconsin high schoolers shared by journalist Jules Suzdaltsev on Twitter was gross. There's nothing innocent or funny about the Holocaust, which every human being on Earth should know by the time they're juniors in high school.


Shout out to the young men who didn't participate and were not amused.

We all remember the pressure to fit in that comes along with the teens years. Chances are good that most of us did some things we wouldn't have done if it we weren't just going along with the crowd.

But there are limits to what we allow peer pressure to do. If people are raising their arm in a Nazi salute for any reason, that's when alarm bells should go off in any decent person's head. And they did for at least a few of the boys in that photo.

One boy, Jordan Blue, made this statement after the photo was shared:

"My name is Jordan Blue, I am the boy captured in the photo to the far right. The photo was taken during our Junior Prom Photos. I clearly am uncomfortable, with what was happening. I couldn't leave the photo as it was taken within 5 seconds. The photographer took the photos telling us to make the sign, I knew what my morals were and it was not to salute something I firmly didn't believe in. I attend BHS, these classmates have bullied me since entering middle school, I have struggled with it my entire life and nothing has changed. These are the boy [sic] of Class of 2019, nothing has been done and my question is... With [sic] anything ever be done. I truly & firmly believe we need to make a change to this horrible act, it needs to stop. Bullying, immaturity, and just taking things as a 'joke'..."

People are comparing Blue to the famed man in a photo from actual Nazi Germany, standing alone with his arms crossed in a disturbing sea of Sieg Heils.

Unfortunately, Blue is also reportedly receiving threats from his community. Stand strong, Jordan.

So many questions, like why the hell did the photographer tell the students to make this sign?

Photographer Peter Gust has said that the gestures in the photo were "innocent" and that the boys were waving to their parents.

"The last picture that I shot," he told Madison365, "I said, ‘All right boys, you’re on the steps. … give me a high sign, a wave that you’re saying goodbye to your parents. And I called it high five, ‘give me a high five.’ … And so I stuck my hand up, and I said, ‘this is what I want.'”

“I didn’t tell them to salute anything,” he said. “There was none of that that was taken at that point in time that it was a salute of any kind. It was waving goodbye to their parents (and) having a good time. High five. There was nothing that diminished the quality of anyone’s life. There was nothing that diminished anyone’s stature in society, there was nothing that was intended to point a finger at anyone in their class who may have some kind of difference. There was none of that.”

Except that's not how Jordan Blue remembers it. He told Madison365 that the photographer didn't tell them to wave to their parents, merely to raise one arm, "which doesn’t give a bunch of teenagers a lot of guidance on how to raise their hands." He said he felt that many of the boys made the Nazi salute on purpose.

“I felt upset, unsafe, disappointed and scared," said Blue. "I felt unsafe because I go to school with them, I don’t believe in what they represented and the symbol they shared … they knew it was wrong, but they still did it.”

There is no reasonable excuse for this photo.

Do you wave goodbye or high-five people with your arm straight out and your palm facing down despite the fact that it makes you look like you're praising Hitler? Yeah, me neither.

If you're an adult and you see a bunch of teenagers making what appears to be a Nazi salute, do you snap a photo of them and share it without recognizing how horrible it looks? Yeah, me neither.

If Jordan Blue recognized the symbol and chose not to participate within five seconds, you would think the adults taking the photo would have at least seen how the optics looked even if it were just an innocent wave.

But considering the messages Jules Suzdaltsev has received from kids who had been bullied by racists at Baraboo high school, the chances of this photo being completely innocent are pretty slim.

So high fives (with palms out, like the average non-Nazi) to the kids who stood their ground and refused to be part of this ugly scene.

And an extra high five to Suzdaltsev's grandma, who wins everything today:

Courtesy of The Commit Partnership
True

For Festus Oyinwola, a 19-year-old first-generation college student from Dallas, Texas, the financial burden of attending college made his higher education dreams feel like a faraway goal.

As his high school graduation neared, Oyinwola feared he would have to interrupt his educational pursuits for at least a year to save up to attend college.

That changed when Oyinwola learned of the Dallas County Promise, a new program launched by The Commit Partnership, a community navigator that works to ensure that all North Texas students receive an equitable education.

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

The Dallas County Promise covers any cost of tuition not included in financial aid grants. To date, nearly 60 high schools in Dallas County currently participate in this initiative.

It pairs students — including Oyinwola — with a success coach for the following three years of their education.

To ensure that students like Oyinwola have the opportunity to build a solid foundation, The Commit Partnership is supported by businesses like Capital One who are committed to driving meaningful change in Dallas County through improved access to education.

The bank's support comes as part of its initial $200 million, multi-year commitment to advance socioeconomic mobility through the Capital One Impact Initiative.

Keep Reading Show less

Just over a year into the coronavirus pandemic, we're finally seeing a light at the end of our socially distanced tunnel. We still have a ways to go, but with millions of vaccines being doled out daily, we're well on our way toward somewhat normal life again. Hallelujah.

As we head toward that light, it's natural to look back over our shoulders at the past year to see what we're leaving behind. There's the "good riddance" stuff of course—the mass deaths, the missing loved ones, the closed-up businesses, the economic, social and political strife—which no one is going to miss.

But there's personal stuff, too. As we reflect on how we coped, how we spent our time, what we did and didn't do this past year, we're thinking about what we'll be bringing out of the tunnel with us.

And some of us are finding that comes with a decent dose of regret. Maybe a little guilt. Some disappointment as we go down the coulda-woulda-shoulda road.

Keep Reading Show less
RODNAE Productions via Pexels
True

The past year has changed the way a lot of people see the world and brought the importance of global change to the forefront. However, even social impact entrepreneurs have had to adapt to the changing circumstances brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic.

"The first barrier is lack of funding. COVID-19 has deeply impacted many of our supporters, and we presume it will continue to do so. Current market volatility has caused many of our supporters to scale back or withdraw their support altogether," said Brisa de Angulo, co-founder of A Breeze of Hope Foundation, a non-profit that prevents childhood sexual violence in Bolivia and winner of the 2020 Elevate Prize.

To help social entrepreneurs scale their impact for the second year in a row, The Elevate Prize is awarding $5 million to 10 innovators, activists, and problem–solvers who are making a difference in their communities every day.

"We want to see extraordinary people leading high-impact projects that are elevating opportunities for all people, elevating issues and their solutions, or elevating understanding of and between people," The Elevate Prize website states.

Founded in 2019 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Joseph Deitch, The Elevate Prize is dedicated to giving unsung social entrepreneurs the necessary resources to scale their impact and to ultimately help inspire and awaken the hero in all of us.

"The Elevate Prize remains committed to finding a radically diverse group of innovative problem solvers and investing unconventional and personalized resources that bring greater visibility to them as leaders and the vital work they do. We make good famous," said Carolina García Jayaram, executive director, Elevate Prize Foundation.

The application process will take place in two phases. Applicants have till May 5 for Phase 1, which will include a short written application. A select number of those applicants will then be chosen for Phase 2, which includes a more robust set of questions later this summer. Ten winners will be announced in October 2021.

In addition to money, winners will also receive support from The Elevate Prize to help amplify their mission, achieve their goals, and receive mentorship and industry connections.

Last year, 1,297 candidates applied for the prize.

The 10 winners include Simprints, a UK-based nonprofit implementing biometric solutions to give people in the developing world hope and access to a better healthcare system; ReThink, a patented, innovative app that detects offensive messages and gives users a chance to reconsider posting them; and Guitars Over Guns, an organization bridging the opportunity gap for youth from vulnerable communities through transformational access to music, connectivity, and self-empowerment.

You can learn more about last year's winners, here.

If you know of someone or you yourself are ready to scale your impact, apply here today.