Holocaust Scholar at Columbia Frightened by Swastikas Spray-Painted on Her Office
The anti-Semitism, on the rise since Trump was elected, continues.
Elizabeth Midlarsky, a Jewish professor who teaches and researches the Holocaust at Columbia Teachers College, experienced first-hand the resurgence of anti-Semitic crimes across the country since President Trump took office.
Midlarsky walked into the entryway of her New York City office on Wednesday to find it vandalized with two large swastikas on the wall written in spray paint, along with the anti-Semitic slur — "Yid."
"I was in shock," Midlarsky told the student newspaper. "I stopped for a moment, because I couldn't believe what I was seeing."
A professor of psychology, she recognized the incident as a part of a national rise in anti-Semitic crimes.
"I'm usually not a fearful person, but they got me. I'm afraid," she told The Washington Post.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported that the number of anti-Semitic crimes in the U.S. rose 57 percent in 2017 compared to 2016.
This is the greatest single-year increase recorded by the ADL, and the second-highest number recorded since the organization began compiling data.
The ADL's CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said Trump's Twitter feed during his campaign emboldened anti-Semites.
"We have a situation where literally the presidential Twitter account is re-tweeting memes that originate on sub-reddits that are developed by some of the worst segments of society," Greenblatt said.
"The president's re-tweeting of white supremacists and anti-Semitic memes during the campaign and, more recently, sharing tweets from a UK racist group — those are alarming. Those tweets and rhetoric have emboldened and given encouragement to the worst anti-Semites and bigots."
Last month, 11 people were gunned down at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh by a white male domestic terrorist. Just hours before the shootings, he used the social network Gab.com to post malicious anti-Semitic messages and conspiracy theories.
The same day of the shooting Trump still hosted a Midwest campaign rally. He did not take the opportunity to outright condemn anti-Semitism or white nationalism.
The Pittsburgh branch of Bend the Arc, a national organization for progressive Jews focused on social justice, wrote a letter to Trump demanding he denounce white nationalism and stop "targeting" minorities.
In regard to the vandalism in Midlarsky's office, the New York Police Department said no one had been arrested yet and the hate crime task force is investigating.
Columbia Teachers College president Thomas Bailey said in a statement, "We unequivocally condemn any expression of hatred, which has no place in our society. We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community."
"I am an intelligent Black woman that has made a seat at the table," Karla Ferguson told DiversityInc. "My influence matters and that scares those that have to resort to fear tactics."
During Miami Art Week, one of the city's busiest times of the year, a Black-owned art gallery in Little Haiti was vandalized with a spray-painted swastika and profanity.
Karla Ferguson, owner of Yeelen Gallery, realized on Saturday morning there was a hate symbol defacing the outside of the building.
"An officer was actually parked outside the building and I went up to his squad car and told him that he had to take a look," Ferguson told DiversityInc. "He was visibly concerned and sympathetic to what it represented.
"I was told by the officer that this was likely going to be seen as a hate crime as the words 'destroy,' 'f**k' and the swastika were visible."
Ferguson, who is also an attorney, is well known in the area for creating a space to celebrate artists of color that the traditional art world usually doesn't include. She said she has "taken the business to the next level," now known as the Yeelen Group.
"Yeelen promotes diversity we tell the stories of marginalized groups, we stand for women's empowerment, we tell the stories from an African Diaspora perspective, LGBTQ rights and civil rights in general are represented when it comes to our exhibition programming," explained Ferguson.
"For the hateful that don't feel that we all deserve to be treated with respect, that don't feel civil rights are to be upheld we could be seen as a threat. We are about valuing marginalized people and showing the worth and humanity of their contributions to society."
Karla Ferguson, CEO, Yeelen Group
This is the first time a symbol of hate and threats have been directed toward her business. As Miami Art Week brings people all over the country into the area, it could have been locals or an outside influence.
Ferguson, whose business headquarters has been in Little Haiti since 2013, chose the neighborhood that is an area of Caribbean immigrants and locally owned shops, before gentrification started to occur.
Her activism through art and consulting is "aimed at providing exhibition and economic opportunities for all artists and particularly those that ask the tough questions, those that challenge our thinking and question inequities."
As a Black woman and an activist, Ferguson said being confronted with hate during a time when it's on the rise across the country only "reinforces that what I do is important, that I am on the right path."
Last month, in Los Angeles, four swastikas were found painted across the face of a Crenshaw mural depicting Black women.
"I am an intelligent Black woman that has made a seat at the table," Ferguson said. "My influence matters and that scares those that have to resort to fear tactics. I am the immigrant, the American Dream and there are people in our society that would love nothing more than to roll back the hands of time to when those that looked like me were considered three-fifths a human by law."
The difficult part for Ferguson was explaining the symbol of hate to her young daughters.
"They were upset; it makes them feel unsafe," she said. "I had to explain to my youngest what a swastika is and what it stands for. I reminded her that there are people who believe that one type of person is superior to others and that such thinking is wrong and ignorant. I told them that their ancestors survived far worse to make their lives possible and that we will continue to fight oppression and hold our heads up high while we do it.
"They know that I'm a fighter and they also know that they are as well, so we fight, we will continue to thrive, we Boss up."
Georgia Coffey reached a tipping point when her request to condemn white supremacists after the deadly Charlottesville, Va., rally was squashed by a Department of Veterans Affairs communications official, according to emails
The top communications official at the Department of Veterans Affairs reportedly told Georgia Coffey, the chief diversity officer, not to condemn white supremacists after the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va. Coffey chose to rock the bigot boat, but frustrated by lack of support from the Trump administration, she jumped ship.
"You guys should all go to court because you're trained liars," a woman said to three friends shopping for hats.
Three Black women were shopping at a Target store in Nashville, Tenn., when an angry woman verbally harassed them, saying the women "Don't belong here" and that they are "perfect for the court system."
The choir at his funeral wore black T-shirts with "SECURITY, #Justice For Jemel" printed on front.
Beatrice Roberson, the mother of Jemel Roberson, a security guard who was shot and killed by Midloathian police after detaining a shooter at a bar, said her son "died doing what he loved," and that the loss "hurts like crazy."
"He was a good person, he had a good heart," she said during his funeral at House of Hope.
"On Tuesday Nov. 27, thousands of Mississippians will vote for a senator. We need someone who respects the lives of lynch victims," one sign said.
In her concession speech, the Republican lawmaker in Utah expressed betrayal by her party.
Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) gave a concession speech on Monday after a narrow loss in this month's midterm election. Love expressed a sentiment of betrayal by her own party, and said President Trump's vision of the world is "no real relationships, just convenient transactions."
Instagram post of Gabbana describing China as a "country of s***" follows a racist promotional video. Store closings, product purges and "not me" protests outside stores going strong. Nice job, fellas.
Dolce & Gabbana is facing backlash from racist ads that promoted a Shanghai fashion show featuring the luxury brand's collection. And, racist comments posted on co-founder Stefano Gabbana's personal Instagram account have caused celebrities to withdraw support for the brand.
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