Backlash against “It’s okay to be white” posters distributed around the University of Bristol and Bristol city centre has culminated in vandalism of the original posters, as well as the appearance of new anti-racism posters in their place.
Posters reading “It’s okay to be white”, which were discovered around the city and the university campus at the end of January, appear to be part of a larger movement, and have received support on social media from white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups. The slogan was popularised on website 4Chan, and similar posters have been spread widely around US Universities, before making their way to the UK. They were spotted in Dundee in September 2019 and in Perth in December, where they were condemned by MP John Swinney. In response to the posters appearing, Swinney said “We must stand together to resist this unacceptable material.”
Avon and Somerset Police responded to the incident
A spokesperson for the University of Bristol commented “The University of Bristol aspires to be a community where everyone should feel safe, welcomed and respected. We would ask that if anyone sees one of these posters on university premises, they take them down and contact security services.” Avon and Somerset Police responded to the incident, and said “We will be looking into this matter, and recording a hate incident due to the effect it is clearly having on members of the university community.”
The original posters have been modified to state instead: “It’s not okay to be racist”
A spokesperson for the BAME network at the university said that the phrase “presents ethnic minorities as intruding ‘others’, whose equality, and even existence is detrimental to white people.” The original posters have been modified to state instead: “It’s not okay to be racist”.
New posters have been put up by students quoting Dr Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela,with the main message: “It’s okay to be white, non-white, pink, green, orange, purple…Polka dots and stripes are also okay. But being a racist is not okay. What matters is not your skin colour, but whether you have a good heart, beautiful mind, kind soul and fine character. So please kindly respect everyone. Thank you. Love & hugs”.
Last modified: 27th February 2020