B. Shira Levine
Navigating new wilderness

No excuses for subtle swastikas

A swastika is not something I want to be reminded of for the hours a day I have the slack app up on my screen during work.
A swastika is not something I want to be reminded of for the hours a day I have the slack app up on my screen during work.

I now have to stare at something reminiscent of a swastika all day long.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you may not use slack – who last week replaced their innocent hashtag logo with a bizarre-looking cross that contains, in the empty space, a swastika.

Check it out (note: these aren’t showing up well in my photo editor – they’re cropped strangely but I hope you get the general idea):

A swastika is not something I want to be reminded of for the hours a day I have the slack app up on my screen during work.

For comparison, here’s a clip of the old logo:

This logo was — well, not unattractive, and made a lot of sense given slack’s hashtag “channel” organization. And sheesh, if you don’t like how many colors it has, make it a two-colored hashtag instead of 8 or 11 or whatever.

My whole life is entrenched in slack.  In fact a Jewish resistance organization introduced me to slack and I liked it so much I signed my whole practice group up, and my a cappella group to another workspace.  Even my husband and I are now using slack to organize our household!  When I’m at my desk, slack is usually on one of my screens.  When I’m not, I’m peppered with notifications from it.

So when my devices started spitting this logo at me one weekday afternoon, I felt unsettled by it, without quite knowing why.  I didn’t look closely, figured it was just something new and I needed to get used to it.  But I couldn’t shake the feeling days later, and scrutinized it more closely… am I crazy, or is that a frigging swastika?!!!

I googled “slack swastika” and it turned out that I was not crazy.

Hate symbols are very powerful.  If you’re not the target of that particular symbol, you may not fully grasp how much fear it can trigger … even so, anyone designing or evaluating a logo (aside from logos for hate groups, of course) should have the common decency to recognize an obvious hate symbol and avoid it.  I can’t see myself accidentally drawing a confederate flag for my band logo, for example.

Since my firm buys the paid plan, we get live chat service, and I got to tell two chat assistants today that I am NOT happy with the swastika.  I can only hope slack’s silence is because they’re redesigning their logo, not that they’re coming up with some way to gaslight this.  (For example, I can see some punk trying to suggest it is a manji, as technically the nazi swastika is rotated 45 degrees.  The problem is that when modern nazis use the swastika symbol to terrorize Jews, they don’t always remember / know to rotate it.  Even when a manji is in a traditional Buddhist setting — which this is not — it still freaks me out. The swastika has subsumed any legitimate symbolic use of a manji, so I hope no one is tone-deaf enough to try this.)

In the meantime, those of you who clicked on the google search for “slack swastika” probably saw the other thing people are saying about this logo…namely that the swastika looks like it’s composed of uh, male genitalia.  So in order to concentrate on my work I have now conditioned myself to try to see four penises

Slack, PLEASE change your logo.

Oh and, let’s please take note once again that Holocaust education is in alarming decline.  No seriously, let’s please improve Holocaust education so that I can stop having to do so at cocktail parties.


About the Author
B. Shira Levine writes about Jewish spirituality and observance, parenting, intersectionality, and the U.S. and Atlanta Jewish communities. Views are her own and not those of her employer, synagogues, or any other organization.
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