William Craft, the president of Concordia College in Moorhead, hit it out of the park this week when he responded to posters around campus saying, “It’s OK to be white.”
The posters were anonymous and the Star Tribune says they likely came as an extension of a campaign on other campuses around the country.
The signs apparently were tied to a on online campaign on the message board 4chan. An image of the board where most people post anonymously encouraged people to make signs and put them up on college campuses on Halloween night.
“Put on a silly costume for anonymity, nobody will think twice because it’s Halloween,” one of the messages said. “The next morning, the media goes completely berserk,” another message said.
Know Your Meme has the history of the “movement”, which appears to have started a few weeks ago in Boston.
In a Facebook post, Craft disarmed the message, which likely was meant to be divisive, and made it inclusive. Brilliant!
The affirmation of human dignity means that we are an inclusive community: there is and must be a place here for people of different ethnicities and skin colors, of different faith traditions or no faith traditions, of different nations, of different gender identities, of different political convictions. In that sense, it is indeed okay to be white—and to be black, to be brown, to be Christian, to be Muslim, to be straight, to be gay, to be conservative, to be liberal, and so on. We are stronger for this diversity of identities.
But Craft said the posters also spoke in their silence.
-It speaks in the silence of not identifying its author(s) and so not affording discussion and debate.
-It speaks in the silence of not acknowledging that it is all too often not “okay” to be other than white. To be other than white is all too often to be subjected to discrimination, lack of opportunity, and even the threat and reality of violence.
The school took the posters down; Craft said postings have to be approved in advance. But he’s not stopping there, he said.
He’s going to schedule a forum “about how we Concordia bring the very best of our minds and hearts to this conversation about our diverse identities and shared humanity.”
That likely is the last thing the person who put up the poster wanted to happen.