Fliers reading “It’s OK to be white” are popping up at schools across the nation, throwing officials on the defense over just what campus diversity means.
The posters have been found taped to doors and walls at high schools and universities including Tulane, Moorhead’s Concordia College, Princeton and Harvard, even Canada’s University of Alberta in the last few days.
The message may seem innocuous on its own, but it’s being read as a racial attack.
At the University of Kansas, posters were taped to light poles and bulletin boards. “It is shameful that anyone would use these posters to promote a racist agenda,” Student Body President Mady Womack told The Kansan.
At Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, Maryland, 10 posters were taken down, and school officials are looking for a culprit spotted on surveillance cameras posting the flyers, NBC4 in Washington reports.
“Our research so far has indicated that this may be part of a concerted national campaign to foment racial and political tension in our school and community,” Principal Renay Johnson told parents. “Montgomery Blair is a very smart, diverse and inclusive community, and we will not fall victim to attempts to divide us.”
The posters apparently spring from a campaign off of 4chan, the infamous site packed with anonymous forums that often incubate racist, sexist and other hateful dialogues. Know Your Meme reports posts there called for people to spread the slogan to show a “harmless message” would cause a “massive media s**tstorm.”
One post, according to Vice News, predicted that “‘normies’ would see that ‘leftists and journalists hate white people’ and turn on them.”
And indeed, the simple flyers are proving divisive. “The sentiment ‘It’s okay to be white’ is now a hate crime,” Fox Host Tucker Carlson declared on Friday. “OK, so what’s the correct position? That it’s not okay to be white?”
Yet, schools read the message as a threat to campus diversity. “It seems likely that these anonymous postings, made in the middle of the night, were provocations intended to divide us from one another,” Law School Dean of Students Marcia L. Sells told Harvard students.
Concordia President William Craft had a more thoughtful take, according to Minnesota’s Star Tribune. “There is and must be a place here for people of different ethnicities and skin colors,” he said. “In that sense, it is indeed OK to be white — and to be black, to be brown, to be Christian, to be Muslim, to be straight, to be gay, to be conservative, to be liberal, and so on. We are stronger for this diversity of identities.”
Melisa Goh, Rare Managing Editor