Trade Me sells 'It's Okay To Be White' T-shirts

The Human Rights Commission (HRC) says there's "no place" for 'It's Okay To Be White' stickers and T-shirts currently being sold on Trade Me.

Items featuring the controversial slogan are available on the auction site from a Nelson-based seller.

"Counter-signal the Marxists and other anti-white bigots with these decals, featuring the most successful /pol/ meme of 2017!" the auction description reads.

"An 'It's Okay To Be White' T-shirt will let people know that you are not a racist who thinks that a child can be born into sin if others with the same skin colour have acted badly in the past.

"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!"

An image of the T-shirt.
An image of the T-shirt. Photo credit: vjm_publishing / Trade Me

But the HRC doesn't see the funny side and says there's "no place" for the message in New Zealand.

"This phrase is known to be associated with white supremacist groups around the world," a spokesperson for the Human Rights Commission told Newshub.

"Despite what the advertisements say, it seems likely that the stickers and T-shirts are intended to convey a message of intolerance, racism and division. There is no place for that in New Zealand."

Trade Me told Newshub it understands the items "aren't everyone's cup of tea" but will allow the listings to remain on its site as they do not breach its rules.

"Items which marginalise individuals or promote one race at the cost of another cannot be sold onsite," says head of trust and safety, George Hiotakis.

"While we know there is some debate about this slogan we don't think these items cross that line."

An image of the stickers.
An image of the stickers. Photo credit: vjm_publishing / Trade Me

At the same time, Trade Me says it may remove the listings - even if legal - if enough people complain.

"If an item is legal but is something that we think our members strongly object to, then we may move to ban or restrict its sale," Hiotakis told Newshub.

"We err on letting listings remain and listening to what our community has to say."

What does the slogan mean?


The 'It's okay to be white' slogan started on 4chan with the intention of using an ostensibly inoffensive message to trigger a left-wing backlash, leading to increased awareness of white nationalism among the public.

"On its face, the statement is both innocuous and obvious. It is OK to be white. But the intent of the flyer's author is not to state the obvious. It is to find sympathizers to the white nationalists' cause," Richard A Baker, president of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity, told in 2018 after posters appeared on US campuses.

"What is interesting is that a position is being inferred by some on the national stage that whites are a marginalized group and are being made to feel 'not OK' in their whiteness. This flyer's purpose is to attract persons who may be sympathetic to that position but may not respond to a swastika or other traditional symbols of white nationalism or direct recruitment."

The slogan has since been spread around the world by far-right groups, including neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Last year, One Nation party leader Pauline Hanson attempted to pass a motion in the Australian Senate stating "it is OK to be white" and condemning "anti-white racism". It was defeated by just three votes by its opponents, who called it a "racist slogan".

And it's not the first time the controversial message has appeared in New Zealand. In 2017 posters with "ITS OKAY TO BE WHITE" on them were pasted around Napier, leading to anger from officials.

Hawke's Bay Tourism general manager Annie Dundas told NZME anyone seeing the posters should tear them down.

"We don't need to see that sort of rubbish," she said.