Last week, posters reading, “It's OK to be white" dotted MSU’s campus (Chronicle, 11/3). Inside Higher Ed reported similar posters were found at universities across the country, representing an effort likely coordinated on 4Chan, a site known for white supremacist organizing.

Such postering is a way of testing a campus community: Are there people sympathetic to the message, who might be recruited to the cause? Will the campus push back, fueling claims of white persecution and free speech suppression? The answer to the second question is no. MSU is (unfortunately) well-versed in addressing such events, consistently conveying intolerance for racism while recognizing that it’s more likely to die out through campus-wide critical dialogue. I hope the answer to the first question is no.

The insidiousness of the statement “It’s OK to be white,” however, is that it sounds obvious. It is obvious. White people have never been told that whiteness is anything other than superior. And, clearly, our skin color is not something we can change, or are responsible for. What we can change, and what we can take responsibility for, is white supremacy: a system of power and privilege that advantages white people simply for being white, and has shaped up historically in ways that subjugate non-white peoples in more (slavery, genocide) or less (implicit bias) brutal ways.

Patriarchy is a system of male supremacy, distinct from any particular man. Yet men are in the best position to undo that system if they care to. White supremacy is a system distinct from any particular white person. But white people are in the best position to combat it, if they care to. Let’s use the event of these posters to remind ourselves that we don’t choose to be white, but we can choose to fight white supremacy and white supremacists.

Sara Rushing

Bozeman