The latest Kickstarter-style fundraising effort to get attention is being held on GoFundMe by Yaya M, with a header stating, "I need some white privilege!" Her humorous page shares the reasons she needs this.
I am writing you today to ask that you assist me in acquiring some white privilege. Although I have layered oppressions that have affected my ability to access my slice of the American Pie™, no issue has affected me more readily than my lack of white privilege. From being assumed to have "cheated" my way into programs for gifted children AND college (via affirmative action), to having my natural hair viewed as unprofessional amongst professional peers, to having people make negative assumptions about my competency level, interests, and job knowledge, to being viewed as naturally dangerous or threatening, my lack of white privilege has created numerous obstacles as I've struggled to successfully compete in a white dominated workforce. I am hoping that, through this campaign, I will begin to make some headway towards closing the gap that white privilege has created in my life.
On the heels of the ridiculous viral Kickstarter campaign where a guy raised over $30,000 to make potato salad — for real — I welcome using crowdfunding to get topics that actually matter into the spotlight, aka our Facebook feeds. What can I say? I enjoy viral stories with a heavy side of social awareness.
As of late Thursday night, Yaya M had received 300 donations totaling just over $5,000 toward her $135,000 goal. At only eight days into the campaign, that's not too bad. Greater than the money is the social sharing. The campaign has been posted to Facebook over 13,000 times.
Yaya understands a donation means something, and her perks are just as great as her campaign. For $5, you'll get a black friend: "I agree to be the black friend you are referencing when you tell people, 'I'm not racist, I have a black friend!'" If I had a dollar for every time I heard/read someone say/write that before following it up with something racist or stereotypical, I'd be able to cover her entire GoFundMe. And I'm white.
For $35, Yaya will translate five words from "AAVE (African American Vernacular English aka Ebonics) to White American English for you." For $65, you can touch her hair. For $75, she'll make an "urban" mix tape for you, with express permission to sing "that" word out loud. "You know which word I mean," she writes.
For $200, she'll "dress like a cop and harass you on the street for what will seem like no reason. Earn some street cred amongst your friends!" It's funny because it's true, which makes it not funny.
Each "perk" for your donation touches on a major stereotype or issue that many black people face.
White privilege is "a set of advantages and/or immunities that white people benefit from on a daily basis beyond those common to all others. White privilege can exist without white people's conscious knowledge of its presence and it helps to maintain the racial hierarchy in this country."
To learn more, I highly encourage everyone to read "White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh.
For some reason, when faced with discussion about white privilege, a lot of white people like to say things like, "I refuse to feel guilty for being white." Awesome. Me too. I have exactly zero guilt for being born with my skin.
But guilt has nothing to do with the fact that white privilege exists. Listen, I get that it's not always easy to emerge from a comfort zone of privilege to recognize that people of color face very real struggles that white people won't personally experience. It didn't just happen overnight for me either. But until I'm followed around a store for no reason, have to worry about Driving While Black or am told I'm "angry" for simply expressing my feelings, I want to keep talking about white privilege.
Because humor is often a great way to make tough topics palatable, I think Yaya M found a clever way to bring attention to an important topic. And with crowdfunding being the current thing, it's a great vehicle to at least get people talking about white privilege. What do you think?
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