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Query a Queer: What is white privilege?

White privilege is going to any store and being able to buy products for your hair and skin type. 

White privilege is knowledge that your body will never be used as a weapon against you, nor will it be politicized, nor will it be a justification for your murder.

White privilege is hanging your ancestors’ crest on a wall after your family traced its lineage back to an 11th-century Norse clan. 

White privilege is feeling safe enough to call the cops and trusting them not to use state-sponsored violence against your body.

White privilege is not being diminished to your race or a representative for your race.

White privilege is not caring about politics because talking about it is uncomfortable.

The foundation of the U.S. was built by slaves, and the dehumanization of black people has been justified for white people’s benefit for more than three centuries. There have been laws granting white people as the only humans worthy of property, financial security, inheritance, legacy, marriage, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and humanity. These laws police black bodies — they control what are acceptable forms of blackness and where black bodies belong, limit economic freedom and opportunities, disenfranchise, and reinforce the belief that black bodies are not human bodies. 

According to Merriam-Webster, a privilege is “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, or advantage.” In America, whiteness has always been an immunity. Whiteness endows the privilege to have family legacy through financial freedom that black cultures have lost. Black girls and women are dismissed for wearing their natural hair in styles that, in a black body, offend white people. Yet white people style their hair in the same fashion, and it is considered “cute” and “trendy.” Black boys are shot dead because they made the mistake of playing with a toy in public while white terrorists, rapists and white-collar criminals are often given redemption and sympathy. 

Marginalized people cannot afford luxuries like not caring that white people can. When your community and heritage are at risk of eradication and when your survival depends on dissent, there is no space for not resisting. Protests, civil disobedience and riots have granted people of color in this country the right and dignity to be treated as a human being, like the rest of white America always has. 

Have questions? We have answers! Send your questions via email to or; via Tumblr at oulgbtcenter; via Twitter @oulgbtcenter with the hashtag #qaqueer; or post/message to Facebook oulgbtcenter. So bring it on, do it to it and query a queer.

Destiniee Jaram is a sophomore studying journalism at Ohio University and is the Query a Queer writer for Ohio University’s LGBT Center.

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