While many Americans prefer to believe that racism in the United States is no longer an issue, White supremacist ideologies are still very much alive.
These ideologies operate under a system of coded words and the adoption of symbols and gestures. The coded words are often referred to as "dog whistles," while the symbols and gestures often seem innocuous enough to give their users plausible deniability if they're called out.
One of these symbols is the "okay" symbol, which was adopted by White supremacists as a symbol for White power.
According to the Anti-Defamation League, the "okay" symbol—in which the index finger joins with the thumb and the other fingers stay upright—was used for centuries and completely harmless.
In 2017, alt-right trolls on 4chan attempted to discredit the media by falsely claiming the sign was code for "white power," hoping news outlets would report on it. The effort became so successful that White supremacists began adopting it themselves and signaling their beliefs.
Determining whether or not the gesture is being used in its traditional innocuous sense or otherwise often revolves around the context of the situation.
As President Donald Trump descended on Mount Rushmore for an Independence Day address, the reckoning of the United States with its indelible history of racist violence remained a pressing topic in the nation.
Former Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart prepared to introduced Trump, but when talking about his "very incredible audience," she emphatically made the gesture associated with "White power."
Did Mary Hart just do what I think she did?!? https://t.co/VJfMJ4YRkf— Grace G (@Grace G)1593851526.0
Some were certain the gesture was very deliberate.
@ggfromcal Yes, she did. Two tell-tale signs: The gesture is awkward and unnatural-looking, and it's not in respons… https://t.co/pgXMy3x8HD— Mededitor (@Mededitor)1593872439.0
@ccschreiner @ggfromcal Doesn’t make sense. We do an ok signal as a response to a query, not in the middle of a pol… https://t.co/dlWryUOzwg— LauRepeat (@LauRepeat)1593908916.0
@Mededitor @ggfromcal She is a media pro. She knew exactly what she was doing.— 🌟| James |🌟 (@🌟| James |🌟)1593919249.0
@ggfromcal When I saw a screen grab of her doing this with one hand I thought maybe it was just an ok sign but two… https://t.co/LiW78M0hgi— Sheila English 🇨🇦 (@Sheila English 🇨🇦)1593870525.0
@ggfromcal @Emo_Luments With as much TV experience as she has, there is no way this was an accident on her part.— MajorityMarch (@MajorityMarch)1593871224.0
@ggfromcal Mary Hart joins the ranks of George Wallace and a white supremacist Proud Boy https://t.co/DIPGVhLWDd— Bry (@Bry)1593877904.0
For some, the gesture seemed too innocent to actually mean anything malicious—a quality that contributes to its popularity as a symbol of White supremacy.
@MollyJongFast Hmmmm Maybe .... just MAYBE that hand gesture doesn't actually mean "white power" https://t.co/KZVFLZGdaW— Patrick W. Bobillo (@Patrick W. Bobillo)1593896417.0
@SallyBrownlee12 @Tricia_Braun @RickySKron @ggfromcal @JJohnsonLaw wtf, it's an OK sign, did I miss something?— Zilbo🇺🇸 (@Zilbo🇺🇸)1593922809.0
Mary Hart has yet to respond to the observations, but her denial is expected.