OK Symbol, Bowlcut No Longer ‘OK’ Over Racist Connotations


The famous finger gesture known as the OK symbol and a haircut popularized by Moe of The Three Stooges have new meanings these days.

If you trace the origin of the so-called “ok symbol” also known as the “ring gesture,” you’ll find it dates back to 5th-century Greece.

When people make the gesture, touching the tips of their index finger and thumb together, it indicates approval. Or that everything is good.

Divers use the gesture underwater to indicate everything is good with their gear.

In the 1800s, it began to be a symbol for the word OK. The word OK made its debut as an abbreviation of an intentionally-misspelled word.

But more recently, some believe the gesture carries an alternate, more sinister meaning. They think it’s a symbol of white power.

Some believe it even creates an “obvious” abbreviation.

Take a look at the photo above. Some even suggest the raised fingers indicate the three arms of a W. The forearm combined with the circle formed by the thumb and index finger make a P. That W and P stand for “white power,” they say.

The Anti-Defamation League added the “OK” emoji to a list of hate-symbols. The whole thing began as a prank a website started to trick white supremacists. The joke, however, backfired and some of them fell for it. They actually started using the symbol for its alleged intent, thereby creating the very problem the prank falsely suggested to be already true.

Bowlcut haircut also makes the list.

Then there’s the bowlcut-style haircut. Remember Moe of The Three Stooges? There was nothing racist about his use of the haircut, of course.

But the haircut was also worn by Dylann Roof, the self-avowed white supremacist convicted of gunning down nine parishioners of a historically-black church in Charleston. That style of haircut, since that crime, became associated with white supremacists as well.

According to Rolling Stone:

Images of Roof’s hair are often photoshopped on other people in various white supremacist memes. … The bowl cut is also used as verbal shorthand within fringe groups, with white supremacists referring to themselves as “the bowl gang” or inserting “bowl” into other words, such as swapping out “brother” for “bowlther.”

So the bowlcut just got added to the list of racist symbols as well.

Appearance doesn’t always mean intent.

I’d hope it would always go without saying one should determine the true intent of a person before making assumptions.

Someone who long used the OK symbol for its traditional meaning may have absolutely no intention of suggesting “white power.”

Someone who wears a haircut reminiscent of the lead “stooge” may have no ill will toward other races.

For that matter, a person who displays the Confederate flag, as I’ve argued before, may genuinely only be trying to honor their heritage. And that act may be solely intended to remember ancestors who fought in the Confederacy without any regard to racism.

But it’s also important to know that such symbols now have a very different connotation. People will make assumptions that the person utilizing these things may not mean to convey at all.

Too often these days, people would rather assume than take the steps to find out the truth first.

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 29 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.