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Stanford Queer Liberation Group behind the “White Privilege” fliers

The group behind the “white privilege” and “heterosexual privilege” fliers has come forward. Stanford Students for Queer Liberation, now famous for its anti-military op-ed in the Daily, has claimed responsibility for the fliers. The group’s co-presidents, Holly Fetter ’13 and Alok Vaid-Menon ’13, emailed me about a week ago to let me know that they had posted the fliers around campus.

Holly and Alok explained that their group focuses “less on mainstream LGBT rights issues – marriage equality, DADT, etc – and more on the intersectionality of progressive social justice issues.”

Alok explained the goal of the fliers as follows:

These fliers were posted to inspire conversations about how heterosexuality and whiteness are constructed as ‘norms’ in society. Most white and heterosexual people unintentionally assume that their identities and experiences are default, and sometimes it takes a few controversial fliers to point out how other people see the world the perspective of different identities.

When asked if he thought that the campaign had been successful, Alok said that he did:

We think it’s been successful – the fact that Fiat Lux wrote about it and that that post was followed by many comments demonstrates that we got a discussion started. The queer community and communities of color have been most enthusiastic about this project, but we want everyone, including white and heterosexual students, to be engaged in the conversation. That’s our next step.

I also asked the group’s presidents what they thought about people who were offended by the sign’s statements. Holly expressed surprise that anyone would be offended, saying:

It’s hard to understand how any white or heterosexual person would be offended by these signs. It was interesting to see that many of the commenters on Fiat Lux assumed the signs were posted exclusively by queer people of color – I’m white and the project was my idea.

Holly continued, explaining the choice to focus on “white and heterosexual privilege”:

It’s not about accusing white and heterosexual folks of being racist and homophobic, it’s about everyone – queer people and people of color included – recognizing the ways in which we have benefitted from certain societal privileges that cause us to view our experience as the normative one. We were not saying that all white people and all heterosexual people are privileged all the time; rather, we were pointing out that there are certain advantages that white and heterosexual people have that they might not even notice until they read about it on a bollard.

So that’s SSQL’s side of the story. What do you think? Did these fliers spark productive discussions? Did white and heterosexual people become more aware of their ‘privilege’?

Alex Katz blogs at Fiat Lux and is the editor-in-chief of the Stanford Review. He is a member of the Student Free Press Association.

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