'It's okay to be white': Racist flyers posted at memorial for black East Tennessee State University students spark outrage
ETSU denounced the flyers on Saturday, November 2, stating that they were an attack on the university and its values
Racist flyers with the words "It's okay to be white" have reportedly been found plastered across the East Tennesse State University (ETSU) campus, sparking outrage from school officials and student bodies.
The controversial flyers were first spotted at various locations around the Johnson City campus over the weekend. One of the locations also included a memorial for the first African-American students of the school.
Shortly after the flyers were discovered, the ETSU President Brian Noland promptly denounced their racist message on Saturday, November 2, stating that the flyers were an attack on the university and its values. Noland added that the flyers were similar to those placed on college campuses by white supremacist groups "in an attempt to seed division and discord."
Similar flyers have been previously found on campuses in California, Texas, and Connecticut.
Nearly 346 cases of white supremacist propaganda have been recorded at 216 colleges in 44 states of the country since 2016, according to a study conducted in 2018 by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). A nearly 80 percent increase in such cases from years prior.
The school's president said that an investigation into the incident has been launched to identify the individuals behind the act.
"Have no doubt that we are treating this as an attack on our university community and making every effort to see that those responsible are caught and properly punished," Noland said, according to the Daily Mail. "I am fully committed to the absolutely necessary goal this does not happen again. We must be ever vigilant to protect our university against these hateful attacks."
"We will respond to this attempt to sow seeds of division by carrying forward our work to support an inclusive and affirming campus," he added. "I am confident that we will continue to serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for our region through our unwavering support for all of the diverse members of our university community."
According to the ADL, the "It's okay to be white" campaign was created on controversial internet forum 4chan. The saying was eventually adopted by neo-Nazi groups and politically-organized racists, including former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke.