Parafiniuk-Talesnick: It’s very clearly okay to be white

Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick

"It's Okay to be White" sign hung on a pillar below Clark B
Several signs with the phrase, “It’s okay to be white” have appeared on campus. This one, hung on a pillar underneath Clark B, is one of few not yet removed by students or members of the community. (Mikaela Rodenbaugh | Collegian)

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.  

We’re aware it’s okay to be white. At least, I’m well aware.

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If I’m ever confused I simply look at pictures of the senate. Pretty much all white.

Sometimes I look at pictures of the Forbes 500; I like knowing what the people who run our world look like. Wow. There are so many white people.

If my internet connection is bad, I just look up at my professors. Yeah, they’re mostly white too (84 percent white, according to the last count).

Being white seems pretty acceptable. In fact, it seems pretty in vogue.  

I’m not sure how there’s confusion about this. Clearly whoever posted the signs and all the lovely citizens of 4chan who suggested the prank are living in a different world than I am.

According to a study conducted by Demos, Black households hold only 6 percent of the wealth owned by white households, which amounts to a total wealth gap of $104,033, and Latino households hold only 8 percent of the wealth owned by white households, a wealth gap of $102,798.

It appears to me that it’s more than okay to be white–it’s highly encouraged. Public policy, wealth distribution and history all lead me to believe that whiteness isn’t facing an attack.

It’s funny to imagine the 4chan post and ensuing posters at CSU derive from genuinely confused white boys too many Natty Lights in to recognize the world they live in. But, it’s naïve.

This incident is part of a larger effort from white supremacists and white-nationalists to center their own insecurities in conversations about racial inequity and convert those who wouldn’t normally take a stance to their side of what they think is an anti-white culture war.

And it is really effective. Look at the comment section in the Collegian’s news article. People who likely do not identify as white supremacists have decided to align themselves with white-supremacist sentiments.

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It’s hard for people to recognize their privilege, and rather than assess these privileges and guilt, many white people have opted into posing as the victims of a made-up conflict.

Though the data shows us that whiteness is not under attack, current conversations about racial injustice and white supremacy are scaring white people. Most white people are compelled to support white supremacy: 52 percent of white women voted for Trump, 55 percent of white people in the US believe they are discriminated against because of their race, and 33 percent of white people in the U.S. believe racism against minorities is a serious problem (compared to 66 percent of nonwhite people).

It may not feel racist to say that it’s okay to be white. But the object of this activity was to make white people feel like the victims of a non-existent race war.

Whiteness is not under attack. Wealth in the U.S. is largely controlled by white people. The U.S. government is largely controlled by white people.

So I say this to whomever posted those signs:

It is okay to be white.

It is not okay to undermine the true challenges nonwhite people face. 

It is not okay to create false race wars in which you are the victim. 

It is not okay to be a white supremacist. 

And these posters, they’re a tool for white supremacy. 

Collegian Managing Editor Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick can be reached at managingeditor@collegian.com or on Twitter @tatianasophiapt.