How much is white privilege worth? Ask the woman crowdfunding it

A satirical Go Fund Me campaign is offering donors the chance to help a woman buy a slice of the American pie by offering in return the "neat perks" of being black

Yaya M … for $200 she will dress as a cop and 'harass you in the street for no reason'.

Yaya M … for $200 she will dress as a cop and ‘harass you in the street for no reason’.

Priya Elan | TheGuardian | July 27, 2014 – There’s a recent strand of crowdfunding projects that has turned into something of a subversive art form. First there was Zack “Danger” Brown’s potato salad (“basically I’m just making a potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet”), which has raised $50,000 (£29,500) on Kickstarter, and then there was The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart launching a fake campaign to buy CNN ( “If Rupert Murdoch buys Time Warner, CNN will be for sale! So let’s buy it and, and … do something with it. We’re not sure what yet”).

Now there’s Yaya M. The mysterious Ms M is attempting to acquire some white privilege because, according to her Go Fund Me mission statement: “Layered oppressions have affected my ability to access my slice of the American Pie™.”

In return for helping her to reach her goal of $135,000, she offers some of the “neat perks” of being black. For $5: “I will agree to be the black friend you are referencing when you tell people, ‘I’m not racist, I have a black friend’; for $65: “You may touch my hair, enabling you to potentially absorb some of my magical afro power”; for $75, you get a mixtape of urban music; for $100, her grandmother’s recipe for collard greens (“When you cook it, you may also claim that yours is better than hers”); and for the summit of $200: “I will dress like a cop and harass you on the street for what seems like no reason. Earn some steet cred amongst your friends!”

But Yaya’s comedic stylings hide her bigger message: “It was one of my intentions to foster dialogue about a serious issue in a light-hearted way,” she writes. Barb Howe, a contributor who donated $15 to Yaya and studied Peggy McIntosh’s privilege-defining essay The Invisible Knapsack at university, agrees. “I really like creative ways of illustrating social problems,” she says. “It’s important that we continue to talk about race and how it really does have a real impact on someone’s personal life. ‘Privilege’ is not just a nice concept.”

The campaign has clearly ruffled some feathers. Army veteran Kevin Miles has set up his own Go Fund Me project Selling My White Privilege!, a blow-by-blow parody of Yaya’s campaign. Kevin’s offers include, for $250, a trip to his hometown of Louisville at night, with this assurance: “You will feel safe and no cops will bother you! I’ll even introduce you to a couple of them.” So far he has yet to get a single donation.

Yaya herself has got some harsh words for the online haters: “Hopefully, sometime soon, I will also spend prime daytime working hours harassing strangers,” she writes. “Although, to be perfectly honest, I’d probably just waste it looking at cat videos.”

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