Nobody says it’s not OK to be white

Posters found on campuses nationwide are misguided, people need to get educated about other cultures


LAURA BATE | The Daily Evergreen

Malik Dreher, a junior anthropology major and president of Black Men Making a Difference, voices his concern over the posters that say “It’s Okay to Be White” recently posted around WSU.

JACKSON FERDERER, Evergreen columnist

A few days ago, two of my friends found posters on campus that stated “It’s okay to be white.” I went searching after work and found another one that said the same thing. I immediately tore it down.

As I ripped it off the light post to which it was taped, all I could think was “Wow, this may be the dumbest thing I’ve seen on campus.” And to be fair, from the Trump wall demonstration last fall to the “free speech” rally two months ago, I’ve seen some really stupid things. While some of those events were offensive, this was simply dumb.

These posters were put up on numerous campuses across the U.S., according to the Washington Post. The idea started online, and the posters were intended to sway white people to white-nationalism and far-right ideologies. The creators of the posters wanted to make white people feel like there were people out there who don’t think it’s OK to be white.

Malik Dreher, president of Black Men Making a Difference, said the posters haven’t surprised him, even if they are absurd.

“We all know it’s OK to be white,” Dreher said. “We see it in the media. We see it on our cell phones. We see it on campuses. We don’t need posters to tell us it’s OK to be white, because we see it everywhere we go.”

No one has ever said that it is not OK to be white. Like, ever. I’m a women’s studies minor and have taken a variety of classes on race, class, gender, sexuality and the intersections of each. Not once have I read an article, watched a documentary or heard from a professor that it isn’t OK to be white. The only thing that might be out there is a Tumblr post.

White supremacy and far-right ideologies are dependent on driving a wedge between communities who could benefit from working together. Those in power want you to think that it’s the person of color, the queer individual, the immigrant or the religious minority who is trying to ruin your way of life. You can see it in every right-wing government and dictatorship — if we’re all fighting against each other, they don’t need to worry about us coming together and demanding our rights.

Orion Welch, vice president of BMMAD, hopes that people who saw these posters ignore their divisive goals and look more into understanding other cultures.

“Do your research. Don’t be so closed off,” Welch said. “One of the biggest problems for me when I was figuring everything out is that you have to challenge everything you know. Just because it’s taught in school doesn’t mean it’s right. Just because it’s taught in a college or university doesn’t mean it’s accurate. It may be accurate but it may not be the full story.”

The history taught in school is usually the history of rich white men. Rarely do our history books expose the full extent of slavery, Native American genocides or the movements of poor and oppressed people. I did not hear about Angela Davis or Dolores Huerta. I heard instead of John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford.

When I took world history in high school, what they really taught me was European history. The only mention of Africa, Asia or the Americas was when European nations colonized them.

This is white privilege. White history is taught and all others ignored. When people of color and other oppressed communities ask to be recognized as much as white people have been, it isn’t about erasing white people. It’s about making other communities just as visible.

To whoever taped up those posters, I’m sorry that Alex Jones and Richard Spencer have brainwashed you. It’s OK to be white. No one said it wasn’t. If you think that white people are being oppressed, consider looking at the government, the media, military officials, your professors and Hollywood, and counting how many high-ranking members are straight white men.

You’re not being oppressed. You’re being manipulated.