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Conceptual Artist Creates Website to Facilitate Reparations

A Seattle-based conceptual artist named Natasha Marin is facing controversy over a website she created to help facilitate free offers of services to ethnic minorities, according to a report by David Ng in the Los Angeles Times. The site allows people of color to request help or services from a white person, who would then fulfill them with no monetary compensations involved. Marin has stated she created the project, which initially launched on Facebook in mid-July, as a social experiment intended to explore “white privilege,” noting “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.”

After going live with the site, the artist claims she received a large amount of negative feedback, including death threats, racial slurs, and messages calling her a “whore.” Requests on the site are moderated, and Marin tries to facilitate exchanges herself. She has said she isn’t officially affiliated with Black Lives Matter, which on Monday published a political platform calling for slavery reparations, but said that she supports the organization. Her intention rather was to address current race relations: “I never actually intended to have any kind of commentary for reparations on American slavery.”

A few recent requests on Marin’s site include a Native American woman looking for travel money in order to explore her cultural background; daily expenses for parents who said they are struggling financially; and art supplies for disadvantaged students. White visitors to the site can post unsolicited offers and presumably only people of color can then reach out to them to take up the offer. Marin has noticed though that the requests and offers posted so far haven’t necessarily aligned with the site’s initial prescription for people of color to make requests and white individuals to offer their assistance: “What surprised me was that people of color were the first people to make offerings.” She has stated she initially intended to keep the site open through the end of the year, but may end the experiment earlier given the negative feedback she has received so far.

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