On November 3, police were called in Berkeley, California for reports of several hate crimes being committed. The police promptly responded to the University of California and found only several pieces of paper saying only five words: It’s Ok To Be White. Sgt. Sabrina Reich said the hanging the posters was not considered a hate crime due to the lack of targeting a specific race or group.
Originally thought out and created by 4chan posters, a website known for sparking outrage and controversy, they wanted the posters to prove the racism by universities and their student bodies towards white people. The message is simple, it contains no statements about being better than other races, no message about other races being subhuman, and it doesn’t seem to directly shut down another group’s message like All Lives Matter does with Black Lives Matter. Simply put, these stickers and posters are not offensive to anyone. The fact that some universities and students have responded so harshly to the message seems to validate 4chan’s original idea that universities are biased against white people.
The outrage over these posters, found on campuses across the nation, shows the double standard of racism in America today. Nothing about the statement “It’s Ok To Be White” is racist or inflammatory. It simply is stating the truth that it is perfectly acceptable to be a white person. Had posters saying “It’s Ok To Be Black or Hispanic or Asian” gone up, the Universities and students would have celebrated the promotion of diversity and inclusion as they always do. Universities have taken a hard stance against the “white” posters, calling the intent behind the posters racist, bigoted, and divisive.
Harvard University has been particularly strong in its response to the stickers and posters. The Dean of the Harvard Law School, Marcia Sells, commented that the posters are, “provocations intended to divide us from one another.” She then goes on to say, “We live, work, teach, and learn together in a community that is stronger, better, and deeper because of our diversity and because we encourage open, respectful, and constructive discourse.” This is a very poor response from the Dean, as it fails to address the reasoning behind the stickers and posters in the first place.
Boston police and public maintenance were quick to bring the posters and stickers down, removing over twenty across the campus in early November. Unfortunately, they have not been so quick to remove Antifa stickers, BLM stickers, and other stickers from left-leaning groups.
These incidents with the stickers and posters put up across the U.S. highlight the growing double standard white people face. Racism is racism, no matter the color or origin of the person. If a black man shouts racist epithets at a white, Asian, or Hispanic person, it is no different than if a white man does the same. This idea that a person can’t be racist towards white people is dangerous. White people do have some advantages over other groups, but they also face unique challenges just as every other race does.
Outside of the University bubble, the posters have been very successful in raising awareness for the double standard of racism, garnering attention from many major news sites such as Washington Post, CBS, Pioneer Press, and NBC. Hopefully, these posters will show people that racism is never OK. Being yourself is always acceptable. Unfortunately there is still work to be done.