Universal Orlando employee fired for flashing a hate symbol in a photo with a biracial child
via York Run / Twitter

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) added the "OK" hand gesture to its list of slogans and symbols used by extremists last month.

Why would the ADL take a universal sign for everything being copacetic and call it a hate symbol? Is nothing sacred? After all it's used by people of all races, colors and creeds.

Well, unfortunately, it's been co-opted by white supremacists to secretly signal their hate.


Annie Reneau from Upworthy gave a brief history of how the OK symbol went from being an in-joke on the 4Chan web forums to a legitimate gesture of the alt-right.

The OK sign as a symbol of white supremacy started out as a joke. Apparently, some basement-dwelling 4Chan dudes with a severe lack of purpose in life decided to "troll the liberals" by making people think that the OK sign—something super commonplace and innocuous—was a symbol of white supremacy. (Seriously, people. Get a life, please.)
Then, because white supremacists are stupid, they actually started flashing it during their pity party rallies and it actually did become a symbol. The symbolism was solidified when a photo of the mosque shooter in New Zealand flashing the sign became public. One can no longer argue that a sign is a joke when someone flashes it after having committed a white supremacist massacre.
Is that fair? No. Is it reality? Yes. Will people blame the "PC police" for this? Yes. But let's put the blame where it belongs—on 4chan fools and white supremacist idiots for creating this ridiculous controversy in the first place.

Here are the Proud Boys, a far-right neo-fascist organization, flashing the symbol.

Some more Proud Boys throwing up the OK.

via Thicc Beat / Twitter

Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant flashing the symbol.

Alt-right raconteur Milo Yannopolis throwing up a big "white power" in his Trump hat.

via Thicc Beat / Twitter

RELATED: Yes, the OK sign can be used as a hate symbol. No, we don't need to stop using it altogether.

Charlie Kirk, founder of Turning Point USA, a conservative non profit student organization, that's been called "alt-lite" by The ADL.

via Thicc Beat

According to the ADL, the OK symbol also makes a W and P, which to some, stands for "white power."

via ADL

A Universal Studios Orlando actor dressed as Gru from "Despicable Me" lost his job recently after it was discovered he flashed the symbol on the shoulder of a biracial six-year-old girl earlier this year.

via Yahoo News / Twitter

Tiffiney Zinger, 35, an African-American U.S. Army veteran and her husband, Richard, who is white, took their daughter and three-year-old son to have breakfast with the "Despicable Me" characters when the video was taken.

Months later, as the couple were looking through photos from their trip, she noticed the symbol.

RELATED: New Emmett Till memorial sign to be bulletproof because people won't stop being racist a-holes

"Oh my gosh. Oh no. What is this? Am I seeing what I really think I'm seeing," Zinger said she thought when she first realized what happened.

Zinger then reached out to Universal Studios and received a generic response.

"It seemed like protocol," Zinger said according to NBC News. "It didn't feel genuine."

She reached out again in September and Universal Orlando didn't seem interested in taking any action, so she sent the video of the character making the hate symbol.

"When I found this video and sent it to them, everything went into motion," Zinger said.

Theme park officials took action and fired the employee.

"We never want our guests to experience what this family did. This is not acceptable and we are sorry — and we are taking steps to make sure nothing like this happens again," Universal Orlando spokesperson Thomas Schroder said.

"We can't discuss specifics about this incident, but we can confirm that the actor no longer works here," Sschroder continued. "We remain in contact with the family and will work with them privately to make this right."

Zinger said the situation was especially painful because they are both veterans who had multiple deployments to Iraq.

"All of that hard work soldiers do for Americans...it feels awful that someone would use their freedom for hate," Zinger said.

There has been some push-back in conservative circles over the idea the OK sign can be a hate symbol. Possibly because those who are accused of flashing it as a sign of hate are Trump supporters.

But those of us who know our history understand that symbols can evolve over time. The swastika was also a sign of of well-being in ancient societies, including those in India, China, Africa, native America, and Europe, until it was co-opted by Adolph Hitler and the Nazis in 1920.

Swastika from Roman mosaic II cent. A. D. Sousse Tunisiavia Wikimedia Commons

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

Keep Reading Show less