It's OK to be white
It's okay to be white or It's OK to be white (IOTBW) is a slogan based on a poster campaign organised on the American imageboard 4chan in 2017, as a "proof of concept" that a "harmless message" would cause a "massive media shitstorm", so that the media backlash against the slogan would help convert white Americans to the far-right. Posters and stickers containing the sentence "It's okay to be white" have been placed in streets in the United States as well as on campuses in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom. The slogan has been spread by neo-Nazis, and racist groups including white supremacists.
The suggestion for the use of posters with the saying originated on the message board 4chan with the intent of provoking reactions. The saying was later spread by neo-Nazi groups and politically organized racists, including former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke and The Daily Stormer. A report by the ADL states that the phrase itself has a history within the white supremacist movement going back to 2001 when it was used as the title of a song by a white power music group called Aggressive Force as well as fliers with the phrase being spotted in 2005 and the slogan being used by a member of the United Klans of America.
Many of the flyers were torn down and some accused the posters of being covertly racist, while others, like Jeff Guillory, executive director of Washington State University's Office of Equity and Diversity, argued that there was nothing offensive.
A spokesman for a Waterloo Region District School Board commented: "Our schools are safe spaces. We want to see them be safe for all of our children, so to see this kind of thing emerge is a worry."
After the signs were found at Washington State University, Phil Weiler, Vice President of University Communications, said that "one could reasonably believe the intention of the signs is to set a sense of fear and intimidation on campus". Executive director of Washington State University's Office of Equity and Diversity responded to the posters by saying: "In my mind, it's a nonthreatening statement", further stating: "Sure, it's OK to be white. It's OK to be African-American. It's OK to be Latino. It's OK to be gay."
The University of Utah said: "If, indeed, these tactics are meant to silence our work in diversity and inclusion, please know we shall not be deterred." Concordia College said that their President was planning a meeting where students could "discuss the matter".
Police were contacted regarding the flyers being posted at University of California, Berkeley. A police department spokesperson said "the signs did not constitute a hate crime because they did not target a specific race and because no criminal act was committed".
In November 2017, Lucian Wintrich attempted to give a speech titled "It's OK To Be White" at University of Connecticut as an invited speaker of the school's Republican club. The speech was protested and came to an end when a protester, employed as the director of career services at Quinebaug Valley Community College, grabbed Wintrich's speech papers from the podium and Wintrich grabbed her, resulting in breach of peace charges against Wintrich. In December 2017, the charges against Wintrich were dropped and the woman who took the papers was charged with attempted sixth-degree larceny and disorderly conduct. She stated through her attorney she took Wintrich's speech as a form of protest, describing Wintrich's "It's OK To Be White" speech as "hateful language".
Tucker Carlson on Fox News defended the campaign in a segment entitled "High school Fliers Create Shock and Horror". Carlson asked: "What’s the correct position? That it’s not okay to be white?", but Newsweek writer Michael Hayden said Carlson was helping to spread neo-Nazi propaganda by defending the posters, saying the slogan is being promoted by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Writing for The Washington Post, Janell Ross commented on the poster campaign saying "the white victim construct is one that experts say, not so long ago, only had traction in avowed white supremacists, segregationists and neo-Nazi circles. But today, it animates open and anonymous public discussions of race and shapes the nation’s politics." The Root compared it with the children's book It's Okay To Be Different and said, "but white folks have taken that beautiful sentiment and distorted it to suit their infinite need to center themselves".
The online magazine Jacobite argued that the goal of the meme was to trick certain political progressives into attacking an "anodyne" message and thus elicit a "second-order reaction" from outsiders perplexed by the idea that the concept of being white is somehow unacceptable, instead of ignoring the message. The writer claims that the meme attempts to exploit its progressive opponents psychologically.
In other media
Australian parliament motion
On October 15, 2018, right-wing politician Pauline Hanson proposed an "It's OK to be white" motion in the Australian Senate intended to acknowledge the "deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilization". It was supported by most senators from the governing Liberal-National Coalition, but was defeated 31-28 by opponents who called it a racist slogan from the white supremacist movement. The following day, the motion was brought up again and rejected unanimously by senators in attendance, with its initial supporters saying they had voted for it due to an administrative error.
- White pride
- White power
- Canadian Heritage Alliance - creator of "Love Your Race" campaign targeted toward white people
- White genocide conspiracy theory
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