It's Yari here (EIC, w/ curls and glasses). So, in my recent trip to LA where I visited friends and interviewed some fly/dope women, a friend of mine mentioned a website called reparations.me where white folk are helping black people with numerous things, in other words: providing a form of reparation.
Of course I was intrigued! I thought things like this only existed in Chapelle sketches. Immediately I went on my phone to look at the site, and sure enough I saw what she meant. People of color can request services (like therapy or child care) and white people can offer those services in addition to posting what they're willing to also give for free (groceries, mentorship, elderly care). So I hit up the MOB and asked for their opinions on the site, and this is what a few of them had to say:
I mean the website is sweet, I guess. But personally this still seems silly to me.
Like if it's at all possible that these one-off niceties can replace the large scale changes we need to rid this nation of the residual effects of systematic racism. Changes we need to see at home and across the world.
A site "that pays it forward", like this one, should exist by its own merit because -- as humans we should want to do well by one another. I don't think for a second that just because I need someone to take care of my grandmother, for instance, and white people "owe" me, they should be the ones to take on that task.
I need these changes to start from the top down. From our government down to our neighbors. From the beginning of our dark history to the textbooks of today. No more lies and no more pacifying what happened.
I want white people (who move to OUR neighborhoods) to not shutter when a black or brown person sits down next to them on the subway. I want black and brown boys and girls to walk down the street without fear. I want to not worry about my brother coming home when he goes on a McDonald's bender at midnight. I don't want pity in the form of chicken dinners or fucking homework help. I want real justice.
Justice served on a golden platter. I want this justice to trickle through the system like a leaky roof that before you know it -- the ceiling is caving in. I want it (the shitty ghettos they built for us; the welfare system they created to keep us there -that white folks actually use more than we ever have) to all come tumbling down.
Then, and only then, may we rebuild.
This site will never take place of true reparations. It's a deliverable too daunting to exist merely as a simple URL created by one well-meaning person.
There is no from of reparation that can undo or assuage hundreds of years of oppression. There is no service that can bring the black lives lost as a product of racism, discrimination and hatred in this country. However, I’m still here for this site (to an extent) because I know some people are in need and some people are looking for a way to give.
I think the reason white people have a hard time talking about/dealing with/honestly acknowledging slavery, prejudice and racism in America is because they don’t want to think of themselves, their families and/or their friends as bad people. And truth be told I’ve met more cool ass white people than asshole white people. I think the people offering services on this site are looking for a way to show that not all white people are bad people. With the current state of race relations in America, I can understand the need to want to change perceptions.
The Problem With the Giver
Donating this service is a simple a way to make the giver feel better about something they feel bad about. To feel bad about it, you have to accept and agree that the way black people are treated in this country is wrong. You have to realize that the donation of baby clothes or a meal doesn’t elevate you above the fact that fucked up things are done to black people by white people and none of them have really been able/or forcefully tried to stop it. I’d prefer they spend their time working with us to find real solutions to end black and brown oppression in America, than offering up casserole and a onesie.
Reparation.me gives black people a platform to ask for help without sacrificing their pride. Today, people are so afraid of judgment and rejection that they go without the things they need in order to preserve their dignity. I believe that receiving help in the form of reparations could make a person feel more deserving and less ashamed when asking for help.
The Problem With The Receiver
This is the same problem I have with the families who take government settlements after their family members are killed due to police violence. They (white people in power) want to take away your right to say you were wronged. They want to make your struggle less valid, because “at least they gave you something”. They expect you to approach with your hands out and this site allows you to feed into that expectation. So to my black people, I implore you to please take without shame but only if you are truly in need.
If they aren't able to find someone to pay off my students loans then I don't care. Interesting idea, and I see it was coming from a good heart.
Lots to think about here, and we want to know your opinion on it if you care to share it. Leave a thought in the comments or send us a tweet at @thegirlmob. We're going to keep an out for this site and see where it goes.
(image cred: glossier)