Monday, April 9, 2018

It's Okay to Be You

I know I'm months if not years late to this conversation, but I recently became aware that some people (presumably white people) have posted fliers (probably without permission) stating simply "It's okay to be white."

This was met with some backlash.

Some have said that the fliers are racist. Saying that "It's okay to be white" supposedly implies that it's not okay to be non-white.

Others have argued that the fliers are simply incorrect. According to some, no, it's not okay to be white, because "white" is a shorthand for "racist."

I think that both of those responses are wrong.

It's okay to be white. It's okay to be black. It's okay to be brown or red or yellow or whatever color you happen to be. All races are okay.

I think that those fliers were made because many Americans seem to have lost sight of that fact. Many Americans seem to put race first and think that certain people are better or worse than others solely by virtue of their race, but while race may be a factor in some genetic traits (like skin color), I don't think it's a big enough factor to make a significant difference to a person's value or importance overall.

I would be happy to post "It's Okay to Be White" posters on my campus (assuming I got permission first). I would be happy to post "It's Okay to Be Black" posters. To save time and be inclusive, I would be happy to publicly post fliers that say "It's Okay to Be YOU."

As a sidenote, I would say "It's okay to be you" rather than "It's okay to be yourself" because even though the latter is more grammatically correct, it also seems to speak more towards a one's personality, while the former speaks more towards one's personal identity. It's a subtle difference, but "be yourself" is more narrow advice than "be you."

I would hope that fliers that say "It's okay to be you" wouldn't offend too many people. I hope that it would instead inspire then to come to some level of acceptance with who they are on a personal level, regardless of who has said what about them or members of their group. Personal identity is important to a lot of people, and I want to tell those people, in case they don't know already, "It's Okay to Be You."

1 comment:

Barbara Robarts said...

Good thoughts. I would like posters that say "It's OK to be YOU.Be your best you." Partly, I suppose, because people excuse poor behavior saying, "That's just the way I am." And partly because sometimes people lose themselves trying to be like or please someone else. Maybe I am working the "Be Yourself" poster, though.