The New York MTA angered a bank by taking down its subway ads. But the bank makes a better point.

Advertisers have gotten a bad rap for ignoring people's best interests, and banks have been among the worst.

They spend huge sums of money on ads touting what are often enough raw deals. So when I heard the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) was taking down hundreds of ads by a bank, I was instinctively excited.

But then I saw the ad:


Image by Amalgamated Bank.

This wasn't a typical advertiser. They weren't luring people into predatory products. They were promoting good.

"#RaiseTheWage" on a banking ad? A bank supporting a policy that doesn't just enrich the rich? I could imagine the rider response being a blend of joy and bewilderment. Of course, I came to learn that the advertiser was no ordinary bank.

Photo by The All-Nite Images/Flickr.

According to its website, Amalgamated Bank is the largest majority union-owned bank in the country, and for nearly 100 years, they've catered to people and institutions "fighting for social and economic justice."

To the bank's dismay, the MTA withdrew the ad buy because they want the transit system to be politics-free.

An MTA spokesperson said their ad buyer "erroneously" approved the six-figure deal for 1,260 ads placed in subway stations and train cars. He explained that the ads were in violation of their viewpoint-neutral policy.

Photo by Metropolitan Transportation Authority/Flickr.

Amalgamated Bank head Keith Mestrich had this to say:

"It's outrageous that the MTA would ban an ad that promotes giving New Yorkers a living wage. The #RaiseTheWage campaign is not about politics, it's about giving the people of New York a fighting chance and Amalgamated Bank is very proud to support and promote this important campaign."

We could grant the MTA benefit of the doubt, but they don't exactly deserve it.

The agency has been called out before for their selective enforcement of the policy.

GIF from "Real Housewives of Orange County."

A judge ruled against the MTA when they tried to remove ads promoting a new comedy documentary called "The Muslims Are Coming," without ever having batted an eye at CNN ads for the Republican presidential debate.

It's sad that in tough times, speaking up for working people can be conflated with politics instead of patriotism.

And it's astonishing that when a business involved in an industry notorious for exploiting people wants to sing a different and more positive tune, a worker- and taxpayer-funded agency, like the MTA, can be so quick to hit the mute button.

If the MTA really wants to be viewpoint-neutral, then they should be clear about the rules and consistent with enforcement. In other words...

GIF from "Breaking Bad."

True

Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

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via Number 10 / Flickr

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a measure last month that could pave the way for the Catholic Church to deny President Joe Biden communion. The conservative bishops hope to prevent Biden from participating in the sacred ritual because of his support for abortion rights.

Biden is a devout Catholic who considered becoming a priest in his youth. He rarely misses mass, holds a rosary while making critical decisions, and often quotes scriptures. When asked about the bishops' decision Biden said it is "a private matter and I don't think that's going to happen."

The bishops hope the new guidance would push "Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith."

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