Latest posts by Bryanna Briley (see all)
- How Exceptional Black Women Lead — A Conversation With Dr. Avis Jones DeWeever
Dr. DeWeever’s latest book helps black women realize their full potential- June 12, 2018
- Nick Cave’s Soundsuits Confront Racism With Radical Artistry [Video]
An exhibition entitled “Here Hear” was previously on display at the Cranbrook Art Museum in Detroit, close to Cave’s alma mater.- October 17, 2016
- Body PositiveSpeaker Malia Anderson Talks Passion, Perseverance and Paying It Forward
“What if I just woke up every morning and said ‘This is my body and I love it.’ and then I went out the door and presented myself in the best possible way?”- October 9, 2016
In his essay ‘The Case for Reparations’, Ta-Nehisi Coates makes the case for how to correct the egregious errors made due to discrimination. Seattle-based artist Natasha Marin has developed something like a first step towards reparations with her website and social experiment, “Reparations”. The site seeks to provide people of color with the various forms of assistance they may need on a daily basis.
A person of color is able to upload a “#request”, describing their need for a service or specific object. Anyone who visits the site can then fulfill the request with a single click. Individuals of any race can upload a “#offering” of a service or good they are willing to provide to someone in need. As a result, Marin has created a place where people of color can have genuine moments of kindness with white individuals.
In a certain light, this service harkens back to the episode of “Friends” where Phoebe ponders the possibility of a selfless good deed. Though “Reparations” seems to be facilitating the opportunity for white people to momentarily overcome their privilege with an act of kindness, it is almost too easy to do a single good deed with no intention to strive towards lasting change.
The “Reparations” website does have honorable intentions. The website idyllically asks,
“What if you actually did something meaningful for someone before the end of the year?
What if a stranger restored your belief in humanity, if only for a moment, by supporting you and allowing you to claim something you need in a material way?
I invite People of Color to ask for what we need to feel better, be happier, be more productive by posting in this space. These may be both material and immaterial requests.
I invite people who identify as White to offer services or contributions to People of Color in need of time, energy, substantive care, and support.”
Marin believes that her social experience helps white people to realize that they have privilege. She explained to the LA Times that, “There are people across the political spectrum who don’t understand that they have privilege. So in many ways the site lets you cash in your whiteness to help other people.”
Further, Marin argues that she isn’t interested in stoking the fires of “white guilt”. Rather, “Reparations” is supposed to be a safe place where solidarity can be established. She told The Guardian, “I’m not into polarizing. I’m into people working together for solutions. . .who can you help, who can you connect with, how can you offset your privilege.” Marin recognizes, though, that her website can in no way begin to make up for the deeper wounds caused by discrimination, such as those that sprung from slavery.
That said, one wonders what the real value is in creating a safe space. Though people of color are encouraged to submit their requests without fear of judgment, it kind of seems like they provide white visitors to cherry-pick their good deed of the day. The immediate long term ramifications of this website are unclear, though there is something appealing about instant gratification across color lines.
The website even turns a profit on its naysayers. Many have left spiteful comments or offered fake donations. Marin created a “Troll Fund” to counteract this negativity. A team of “Troll Slayers” donate a dollar every time a hateful comment is posted. The money collected will be used to help someone in need of financial support.
Marin’s motivations for this social experiment on giving reparations are certainly well-intentioned. This website seems like a beacon of hope in a sea of darkness created by virulent racism. However, it’s worth questioning whether “cashing in on one’s whiteness” should really be an aim in the collective battle to rectify racism and give back to a community that has been wounded and used time and again.