In a world where people have turned to crowd-funding for such absurd ventures as making a potato salad, producing Breaking Bad sequel fan-fiction starring Val Kilmer and Slash, and continuing to justify Amanda Palmer's wretched existence, Yaya M. (above) had the brilliant idea of using online philanthropy to finally get herself a piece of that white privilege that she's been missing her whole life.
As far as online-performance-art-as-scathing-social-commentary goes, I think this one's pretty fantastic (sorry, @horse_ebooks) (I'm still kind of mad about that). As she explains:
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.
In return for paying for my white privilege, I would love to give you some "black privilege" in return! Yes, it is difficult being a black person but there are some neat perks, as you will discover if you donate!
Speaking as a cisgender heterosexual able-bodied male of European descent aka a position of white privilege, I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who are better qualified to examine the nuances and intricacies of this campaign, and hell, probably expose some potentially problematic aspects and blah blah blah. I bet those same people have some valid points, too. Perspectives that I didn't consider, and are probably worth thinking about, and if you are one of those people, I'd love to hear them. But from my point of view as a privileged dude who tries to be an ally and remain vigilant in my awareness of this kind of stuff — I think this is pretty great. Yaya even goes as far as to break down the math explaining her fundraising goal of $135k (black females making approximately 70% of what the average white male makes for the same work, times 15 years in the workforce, adjusted for taxes, inflation, etc. It's not a perfect equation by any chance but hey, I appreciate the transparency).
Now, will this open peoples' eyes to the concept of privilege? Probably not, but hopefully it engenders conversation. If she reaches her goal, will she actually obtain the benefits of white male privilege? Again, probably not, although she will have some financial advantage, which then leads us into an increasing complex conversation about class, and how that intersects (or not) with lines of race and gender and so on. Is someone going to accuse her of being "yet another black person asking for handouts?" I'm going to say definitely although I don't know for certain because I scrolled back through the comments and I couldn't make it past, "...sell that awful hair to a merkin factory, you bell pepper nosed pavement ape. Lol look at this pow wow of unemployed anthropology majors who got a degree in worthlessness in the comment section. So glad to see so many of you struggling. Keep whining on the internet hashtag slacktivists, while we in the real world 'hustle' as our brooding missing link host put it. :)."
For my sake, I'm giving her $5 so that she can specifically be the "black friend" that I'm referring to when I say "I have a black friend!" — but of course, I'm doing this for explicitly selfish reasons so that I can alleviate myself of any potential white guilt that I might feel when I do inevitably find myself saying "I have a black friend!" in reference to an IRL friend who is also black, which in turn would mean that I was exploiting that legitimate relationship by reducing said friend down to a stereotype that only serves a specific function in my life (that is, to make me appear as a diverse and liberal individual). At least by donating $5, I know that I'm exploiting a friendship with a black person, and that she's in fact complicit in that exploitation — which means it's not actually exploitation and therefore it's totally fine and everything's good to go and so I can continue going through life as if I'm walking through a fluffy white cloud of privilege!
And there I go, down the never-ending rabbit hole of cultural rhetoric. I'll see you on the other side.