Officials at Oak Park and River Forest High School recently announced that they plan on postponing the distribution of the school's "Tabula" yearbook, after they realized that it contained photos of students making a hand gesture that has become identified with the white nationalist movement.
In an email sent to parents, Supt. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams explained that the yearbook contained "several photos of students making a hand gesture that has different meanings. In some cases it's used in what is known as the circle game."
The gesture entails people forming their hands to make the OK sign. In the circle game, the point is to form the gesture with your hands below your waist, baiting people to look. But what before was a game or an innocent hand communication has in the last few years morphed into a symbol of the far right.
The controversy over the OK sign started in 2017, when the gesture started circulating on 4Chan, an internet message board.
The Southern Poverty Law Center, the Montgomery, Ala.-based organization that tracks hate groups and trends, described the sign on its website:
"The social-media-driven controversy over the meaning of the well-known hand sign has arisen in part as the result of a deliberate hoax concocted on the internet message board 4chan, which in addition to its well-earned reputation as a gateway to the racist 'alt-right' is perhaps more broadly known as the home of trolling culture.
"So when it gets flashed during a national broadcast, or during a video being shot to promote the Coast Guard, or by a cluster of Proud Boys and 'Patriots,' what it's about most of the time is a deliberate attempt to 'trigger liberals' into overreacting to a gesture so widely used that virtually anyone has plausible deniability built into their use of it in the first place."
In her email, Supt. Pruitt-Adams wrote that "regardless of intent, the potential negative impact of this gesture has led us to decide that we cannot distribute the yearbook as is."
The superintendent said that the district is exploring "alternative options
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