Mercer Cluster

“It’s okay to be white” flyer found on campus

An+anonymous+flyer+reading+%22IT%27S+OKAY+TO+BE+WHITE%22+was+found+on+a+bulletin+board+in+the+Connell+Student+Center+%28CSC%29+on+Mercer%E2%80%99s+Macon+campus+November+8.+
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“It’s okay to be white” flyer found on campus

An anonymous flyer reading

An anonymous flyer reading "IT'S OKAY TO BE WHITE" was found on a bulletin board in the Connell Student Center (CSC) on Mercer’s Macon campus November 8.

Courtesy of Alex Williams

An anonymous flyer reading "IT'S OKAY TO BE WHITE" was found on a bulletin board in the Connell Student Center (CSC) on Mercer’s Macon campus November 8.

Courtesy of Alex Williams

Courtesy of Alex Williams

An anonymous flyer reading "IT'S OKAY TO BE WHITE" was found on a bulletin board in the Connell Student Center (CSC) on Mercer’s Macon campus November 8.

Thais Ackerman and Katie Atkinson

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A flyer reading “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE” was found taped to a bulletin board outside of the Connell Student Center (CSC) on campus last Wednesday.

Over the past month, signs like the one found at Mercer have been popping up on college campuses across the nation including at UC Berkeley, Harvard and Princeton.

After the flyer was found on Mercer’s campus, several students organized a meeting at the CSC on Nov. 12 to discuss unity among black organizations and talk about the flyer’s message.

“[The flyer] made me feel a little bit uncomfortable because the first thing I did kind of think of was racism,” said Georgina Ajorgbor, a member of the African Student Association who attended the meeting.

Quinten Oppong, senior, removed the flyer when he saw it outside of the CSC. Mercer administration has not publicly addressed the flyer with the Mercer community, but Oppong said they should.

“I think administration needs to see and treat racial issues as equivalent to other issues such as sexual assault on campus,” Oppong said. “I think most importantly this whole thing is indicative of the fact that real conversation concerning race has not truly been had.”

Dean of Students Douglas R. Pearson sent a statement to The Cluster in response to a series of questions regarding the flyer’s message. Click here to read the full statement.

“It should not be the role of the University to protect students from ideas or opinions that they find controversial or offensive,” Dean Pearson said in the statement. “But rather to model and engage students in thoughtful debate and civil discourse. However, a flyer that was allegedly posted on campus recently (and then taken down) does not appear to have been intended to promote respectful dialogue or discussion.”

The Mercer University Student handbook states that violating, aiding, condoning, or attempting to commit any breaches to the university’s Community of Respect listed on page 13 of the handbook will result in disciplinary action. This encompasses hate offenses, which constitutes as any offense against a person or property motivated by an offender’s bias against a disability, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation or race.

Dean Pearson said he urges all students to think about their actions in light of Mercer’s Community of Respect and suggests anyone with any information regarding the incident should contact Mercer Police.

He gave no indication that the administration plans on addressing the flyer further.

According to The Washington Post, the idea to spread “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE” flyers originally emerged in a 4chan chatroom on Oct. 31. Users discussed how posting the message in public places would lead to societal disturbance and help aid in the recruitment of white-nationalists.

In the months after the 2016 election, The Southern Poverty Law Center noted an increase in white nationalist propaganda.  The group recorded more than 150 reports of white nationalist flyers and recruitment materials on college campuses.

In an article featured on splcenter.org, SPLC Analyst Keegan Hankes said college students have become a target for white nationalists.

“White nationalists really enjoy campus activism,” Hankes said. “They’re often trying to put an intellectual veneer on things, so it makes sense to peddle that on a college campus where you’re dealing with people who may be just starting to form their ideas about the world.”

At Mercer, students who attended the Nov. 12 meeting shared their concerns with how Mercer administration has addressed racially charged issues in the past.

“This is not the first time something like this has happened,” said Senior Tamar Thomas, referencing the vandalism of Sherwood Hall that took place last year. “I think it’s our job, not just as black students, but every student on campus too, if they do see something racially charged, to bring it to the university and then the university does something about it.”

 

Editor’s note (11/17/2017): This story has been updated to include a link to Dean Pearson’s full statement to The Cluster. 

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11 Comments

11 Responses to ““It’s okay to be white” flyer found on campus”

  1. Spoutinghorn on November 15th, 2017 10:22 am

    It isn’t OK to be White?

  2. b on November 16th, 2017 2:40 am

    no

  3. Only Post on November 17th, 2017 1:32 pm

    Well that’s totally not racist now isn’t it?

  4. Anonymous on November 18th, 2017 7:14 pm

    The real issue here is that these posters are being used to recruit white nationalists. As a white person with privilege you must understand the history of oppression that has occurred under the premise of “white is might”. Examine your privilege as a white person and the opportunities you’ve had and the discrimination you haven’t. To be white is not to be evil, but we must understand that there are oppressive systems that we will never be able to quite understand due to the racial systems at place.

  5. anonymous on December 7th, 2017 8:58 am

    Except they aren’t being used to recruit white nationalists. The original 4chan poster actually said if any signs become associated with white nationalism that they should be removed immediately. A little critical thinking will take you a long way.

  6. Walter on November 16th, 2017 12:51 pm

    SPLC is a scam organization that uses “hate” as a way to make money.

    http://thefederalist.com/2017/05/17/12-ways-southern-poverty-law-center-scam-profit-hate-mongering/

  7. A Concerned Student on November 17th, 2017 3:12 pm

    I am truly concerned and enraged at the response (or lack thereof) of Dean Pearson. As the Dean of Students, his role is to provide assistance to students who have concerns and grievances—to be their point of contact and to be their advocate. Saying that it is not the role of the University to protect students from offense is far from advocacy. Does he feel it is not the role of University to protect students from offensive ideas, or does he feel it is not the University’s role to get involved in controversial matters? It seems to me they are developing a pattern of sweeping things under the rug (sexual assaults in Greek life, Sherwood incidents, car vandalism). It is time for students to step up and charge our Dean to be our advocate.
    The “It’s Okay To Be White” posters are offensive because they are racist. The sentiment stems from a position of white privilege. NO ONE is saying it is not okay to be white. Our entire societal system is set up to actually privilege you if you are white. Even more so, a quick Google search shows that “It’s Okay To Be White” is linked to “Aggressive Force” white supremacy groups. You can check out the first thing that shows up on Google, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfefa2A8dpM, for yourself.
    Are we, is our Dean, really so ignorant as to think whoever printed this flyer off did not know these links to white supremacy? That they did not know that the message was started on 4chan to recruit white nationalists? HOW can our Dean write this off as simply controversial opinion? Can Dean Pearson truly believe that this message does not violate our Community of Respect, which includes offense against any person motivated by an offenders bias against a race, when members of minority races in the Mercer community ARE offended by this message?
    Dean Pearson, we have questons. We demand answers. We demand accountability. We demand advocacy.

  8. Jena on November 17th, 2017 3:14 pm

    I am truly concerned and enraged at the response (or lack thereof) of Dean Pearson. As the Dean of Students, his role is to provide assistance to students who have concerns and grievances—to be their point of contact and to be their advocate. Saying that it is not the role of the University to protect students from offense is far from advocacy. Does he feel it is not the role of University to protect students from offensive ideas, or does he feel it is not the University’s role to get involved in controversial matters? It seems to me they are developing a pattern of sweeping things under the rug (sexual assaults in Greek life, Sherwood incidents, car vandalism). It is time for students to step up and charge our Dean to be our advocate.
    The “It’s Okay To Be White” posters are offensive because they are racist. The sentiment stems from a position of white privilege. NO ONE is saying it is not okay to be white. Our entire societal system is set up to actually privilege you if you are white. Even more so, a quick Google search shows that “It’s Okay To Be White” is linked to “Aggressive Force” white supremacy groups. You can check out the first thing that shows up on Google, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfefa2A8dpM, for yourself.
    Are we really so ignorant as to think whoever printed this flyer off did not know these links to white supremacy? That they did not know that the message was started on 4chan to recruit white nationalists? How can our Dean write this off as simply controversial opinion? Can he truly believe that this message does not violate our Community of Respect, which includes offense against any person motivated by an offenders bias against a race, when members of minority races in the Mercer community ARE offended by this message?
    Dean Pearson, we have questons. We demand answers. We need accountability. We demand advocacy.

  9. Lee on November 21st, 2017 8:56 am

    It’s ok to go to the college that your scores allowed you to get into

  10. Josh on November 22nd, 2017 12:38 am

    How is this racist… I agree with Dean Pearson and his statement.

  11. Smithe467 on February 13th, 2018 11:30 pm

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was curious what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100 positive. Any recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks gaadeekdgeeedfde

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“It’s okay to be white” flyer found on campus