The “OK” hand signal is no longer OK at the University of Nebraska.
Nebraska has updated the image of its mascot to avoid a connection with White supremacism. The mascot is now pictured holding up the “No. 1” instead of forming the “OK” signal with his hand.
Herbie Husker, a cartoon mascot for the Nebraska Cornhuskers, had shown the “OK” hand sign for almost 50 years, but the university is making the revision after learning the same gesture has developed a connection in recent years to some far-right extremists. The change to Herbie Husker was first reported by the Flatwater Free Press on Friday.
“That hand gesture could, in some circles, represent something that does not represent what Nebraska athletics is about,” Nebraska athletics licensing director Lonna Henrichs told the Flatwater Free Press. “We just didn’t even want to be associated with portraying anything that somebody might think, you know, that it means White power.”
The “OK” gesture standing in as a symbol for “White power” first started in 2017 when it was used as a meme to troll liberals on the website 4chan. But over time, according to the Anti-Defamation League, far-right groups and White supremacists have used the gesture in a serious manner.
However, the ADL says that the hand symbol’s main meaning is still the traditional one to signal something is “OK.”
“Someone who uses the symbol cannot be assumed to be using the symbol in either a trolling or, especially, white supremacist context unless other contextual evidence exists to support the contention,” the ADL says on its website. “Since 2017, many people have been falsely accused of being racist or white supremacist for using the “okay” gesture in its traditional and innocuous sense.”