An online store has stopped selling t-shirts printed with the controversial slogan "It's okay to be white" after facing public backlash, with many calling the product "inherently racist," according to reports.
The t-shirts were being sold by Trade Me and are manufactured by VJM Publishing, which marketed the products in an attempt to troll "anti-white bigots" and "local communists."
Trade Me, New Zealand's largest internet auction website, earlier said that they would continue to sell the t-shirts despite the backlash because they were not breaching any rules. However, the website took down the listing on Thursday night after facing a barrage of negative comments and complaints about the product.
White supremacists across the globe have reportedly adopted the phrase "it's okay to be white," according to the Daily Mail.
While VJM Publishing's listing of the t-shirt read: "An 'It's okay to be white' T-shirt will let people know that you are not a racist who thinks that a child can be born into sin if others with the same skin colour have acted badly in the past. Wear this shirt as a white person to troll your local Communists, or wear this shirt as a brown person to troll stuck-up middle-class urbanites. Either way it's funny!"
Trade Me, before taking down the listing, had told Newshub that they permitted the listing "to remain on its site as they do not breach its rules." The firm's head of trust and safety, George Hiotakis, had said that the products "which marginalise individuals or promote one race at the cost of another cannot be sold."
"While we know there is some debate about this slogan, we don't think these items cross that line," he told the outlet.
Hiotakis later confirmed to the Daily Mail that their site had removed the t-shirts by Thursday evening. "When we were first alerted to these items, we err on the side of letting legal listings run but we listen to our community and we will change our mind if we feel there's a good reason to do so," he said.
"We knew there was some ambiguity associated with this phrase so it's been a tough one for us to wrestle with. The listings have proven to be pretty divisive and have attracted a bunch of complaints. New Zealand has told us that they don't want to see this sort of thing on Trade Me and we agree, so this slogan will not be allowed to be sold on any item on our site," he added.
Reports state that the t-shirts, however, are now being sold by another online store in New Zealand called Allgoods.co.nz. The new listing of the product states: "The infamous 'It's Okay To Be White' t-shirts that caused problems on TradeMe!"
"Resist the Orwellian thought police with this t-shirt! The Human Rights Commission thinks that we shouldn't be allowed to sell these shirts - help up stand up for free speech by telling them where to stick it! It is in no way racist, hateful or divisive to say that it's okay to be white!" the description reads.
The listing on the site also states that delivery may take nearly three weeks "due to unprecedented demand."