There’s a “racist” message popping up in schools and churches in Columbus, Ohio that’s putting parents and residents on edge: “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE.”
“It’s really sick,” Levera Rohrig, grandparent of a student at Binns Elementary School, told WBNS.
Coming across the message, she said, “would make me feel like I have to watch my grandson and stuff, you know? Because something’s not right.”
A parent recently removed the “racist” message on a sticker in a window at the school and reported the apparent hate crime to officials, who relayed the information to the district’s safety and security team, according to the news site.
District officials told WBNS they did not contact Columbus police because the incident did not constitute vandalism or destruction of property. Parents found the sticker and complained about it on social media last weekend, and Jessica Kaylor, one of the parents who discovered the message, said she’s glad it’s gone.
“This is completely wrong,” she told WCMH. “It doesn’t belong in schools, it does not belong. It’s 2020 It just does not belong.”
News of the controversy eventually caught the attention of Rev. Don Wallick of Crossroads United Methodist Church, who called police to report the same sticker was left at the church last week.
The church and school are within blocks of each other.
“In my book, it’s just a reaction to fear about the fact there are more minority folks in the country,” Wallick told WBNS. “I see it as a strength and something to celebrate, but there are folks who are fearful of that.”
It was the second time in recent weeks that Wallick has made the news to talk about equality and social justice. Wallick is well known for his support of the LGBTQ community, which includes appearances in Pride parades and a big rainbow flag in front of his home.
In December, the Wallick family alleged the flag was torn down and a garage door at the home was vandalized with the message “Kill fags.”
“As a middle-aged, white, straight, privileged guy, it’s up to me to use where I am, my station in life, to advocate for others and be an ally,” Wallick told WBNS last month. “That’s why it’s there, so folks will see that and know that there are folks who support them.”
District officials told WBNS the “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE” sign was a first at the school, and called on parents and other adults in the community to help “keep our children safe.”
“We are currently in the process of investigating this matter. What I can tell you is that an alert parent notified us today, about a post that was circulating on social media over the weekend. That parent came up to the school and removed the stickers after seeing the post,” a Columbus City Schools spokesman wrote to WCMH.
“It’s important that we all work together to keep our children safe and our schools a welcoming environment that’s conducive to learning and growth for everyone.”
Stickers and signs with the “It’s okay to be white” message have caused similar controversies across the globe in recent years, from Perth, Scotland to Manitoba, Canada to universities throughout the U.S.
Last November, the phrase triggered an FBI investigation after stickers and posters with the message were discovered at two Ohio universities – Ohio Wesleyan University and Ohio State University, The Fire reports.