High School pulls yearbooks showing 18 students flashing white power symbols

A high school in Illinois has had their yearbook distribution postponed due to photos of students flashing the “white power” hand gesture.

What We Know:

  • Oak Park and River Forest High School have had to pull their yearbooks after review of some of the students’ photos. Several students can be seen flashing the white power hand sign. This is done by forming your hand  in a way to say ‘OK’ with the three fingers extended up as the ‘w’ and the thumb and index finger forming the ‘p’.
  • According to Southern Poverty Law Center, the ‘OK’ hand sign started being used as a white power symbol a few years ago. It became popular on the internet board, 4Chan. Neo-Nazis have also been consistent in using the symbol. The Southern Poverty Law Center advised that its “a deliberate attempt to ‘trigger liberals’ into overreacting to a gesture so widely used that virtually anyone has a plausible deniability built into their use of it in the first place.”
  • Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams sent out a letter to families about the delay on May 17th. “We’ve been made aware that this year’s ‘Tabula’ yearbook, which has not been distributed, contains several photos of students making a hand gesture that has different meanings. In some cases its in what is known as the circle game. However, the gesture has more recently become associated with the white nationalism. Regardless of intent, the potential negative impact of this gesture has led us to decide that we cannot distribute the yearbook as is.”
  • Unfortunately, there has been a trend in schools regarding hate speech and racists actions. High schools in Ohio, New York, California, and Texas have had instances of racial slurs being used during promposals. Other high schools in California have had photos posted of students doing the Nazi salute or posing in the shape of swastikas.

Oak Park and River Forest Board of Education will meet to further discuss what to do about the editing and redistribution of the yearbooks.