Chicago school spends over $50,000 to reprint yearbooks because students flashed allegedly racist 'OK' hand gesture: 'This trauma is simply not acceptable'

A Chicago high school is forking over $53,794 to reprint its 2018-19 yearbooks after administrators discovered that the book featured students making the "OK" sign with their hands — a sign that some have interpreted to mean "white supremacy."

What are the details?

The original yearbooks reportedly featured photos of a group of students who were flashing the hand sign.

According to MSN Insider, at least 18 photos contained the offending hand gestures in this year's Oak Park River Forest High School yearbooks.

A letter from Superintendent Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams read that the books contained "18 photos of clubs or teams in which students of various races, ethnicities, genders, and grades made a hand gesture — an upside down OK sign."

Some "alt-right" figures started a campaign on various internet message boards to troll the media into associating the "OK" gesture with racism, which would end up discrediting the media with the public.

Pruitt-Adams did admit that the offending hand gesture is also associated with the "circle game," a game in which someone makes the hand gesture and holds it below their waist. If they can coerce another person to look at the circle, that person can punch them.

Pruitt-Adams even said that the photos were taken mid-October 2018, well before "the gesture was widely known to have any association with white nationalism." 

What's the cost?

Still, the school shelled out more than $50,000 to have the books reprinted without those pages. The Chicago Sun Times reported that the school initially printed 1,750 copies of this year's yearbook before demanding the printer re-run all new books without the offending photos.

"I want to be clear that we are not making any presumptions about students' intent in using the gesture," she said. "Regardless of intent, however, there is a real and negative impact. Many students, not only our students of color, experience this gesture as a symbol of white supremacy. Potentially subjecting our students to this trauma is simply not acceptable."

Pruitt-Adams was apparently acting in a protective manner for the students, who, as a result of the photos, could be subject to "potentially a lifetime of questions or penalty from colleges, employers, etc," she said.
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