To the Editor:
In November alone, 11 predominantly white universities, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, have seen “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE” posters placed around their campuses. The posting of this racist agitation disrupted the political climate on campuses shortly preceding the midterm elections, and those responsible for spreading the posters are off-campus organizations targeting students who feel aggrieved about their racial identity. These flyers were not distributed by guilty white students with an identity crisis, but by white nationalists hoping to cause more of a divide between students of color and white students.
Many of UNL’s racial minority multicultural student organizations are based in the Jackie Gaughan Multicultural Center, whose works unapologetically celebrate multiculturalism. Showcasing diversity is not an attack on whiteness, and we will continue to defend this statement. The signs posted just outside of this location reinforce the need for minority students to place whiteness at the foreground to legitimize their existence and pride on this campus.
At first, the phrase “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE” seems harmless and direct, but there’s a major disconnect between the semantics used and the connotations. It’s white nationalist propaganda using sympathy as a vehicle for its circulation, recruiting students who need to be reassured of their whiteness. While the First Amendment protects the right to free speech and press, this phrase provokes students who can sympathize with having privilege in this society and subliminally attacks other students, which feeds the movement.
While we’ve never said it’s not okay to be white, many predominantly white institutions have shown it’s not okay to be a student of color.
UNL chapter, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People