'An online store has removed t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “It’s okay to be white” after public backlash.
The shirts were sold on Trade Me, a New Zealand auction website, by the manufacturer VJM Publishing, which claimed they were meant to be “funny”.
According to the New Zealand Herald, the item description reportedly read: “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!”
The slogan has previously been linked to the far-right and white supremacy groups.
After initial complaints, Trade Me’s head of trust and safety George Hiotakis originally told Newshub that it would not remove the shirt because it “did not breach its rules”.
“Items which marginalise individuals or promote one race at the cost of another cannot be sold onsite,” Hiotakis said at the time. “While we know there is some debate about this slogan, we don’t think these items cross that line.”
However, Trade Me has since removed the t-shirts, after acknowledging in a statement that the slogan was divisive.
“We knew there was some ambiguity associated with the phrase so it’s been a tough one for us to wrestle with,” Hiotakis said. “But we listen to our community and we will change our mind if we feel there’s a good reason to do so.”
Following the t-shirts removal, VJM Publishing has since started selling the shirts on Allgoods.co.nz, where the description reads: “The infamous ‘It’s Okay To Be White’ t-shirts that caused problems on TradeMe!
“It is in no way racist, hateful or divisive to say that it’s okay to be white!”
The description also adds that “due to unprecedented demand,” customers should allow three weeks for delivery.
On social media, people have continued to speak out against the t-shirts.'
Read more: Online store removes controversial 'It's okay to be white' t-shirt
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17 June 2019
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