If the election of America’s first black president was meant to usher in a new “post-racial” society, what does it now mean that Donald Trump, a candidate endorsed by prominent white-supremacists, will soon be the Leader of the Free World?
For Natasha Marin, negotiating that paradox has become a full-time job.
In the days since Trump was elected, the Seattle-based artist’s website has been flooded with requests from minorities to help to fund an escape from racism and bigotry that’s flared throughout the country.
And their appeals are being answered – and funded – by an unlikely source: white people.
In July, Marin began a project called Reparations, as a way to process her feelings of helplessness in the wake of multiple police shootings of black men. The website very specifically offers people of color a platform to request things they need to heal from people who have historically been an instrument of their oppression.
In turn, white people can offer skills, money, compassion, a home cooked meal or simply support to a stranger, all in an effort to collectively restore “belief in humanity, if only for a moment.”
“It’s the only way we’re going to survive together.”
That notion of surviving together is what drew 35-year-old Iris Misciagna to post to ‘Reparations’ in the wake of Trump’s election. As a white woman, Misciagna acknowledged that her privilege insulates her from the fear and anxiety minorities are experiencing, but she felt like the very least she could do is listen to their fears.
Misciagna dismissed the notion that she was acting out of “white guilt,” and insisted that acknowledging the pain and injustice is the only way to move forward as a country and heal.
“If I’m going to receive the gifts and the blessings of my ancestors … then I feel that I have to receive the burdens too,” she said.
But more than money, Marin said what’s needed most is mental health care. From counseling sessions, to massage therapy, to even just an offer to lend a supportive ear, Marin says the most frequent request is essentially a plea to talk to someone and know their feelings are validated.
“People are wondering, are there still people in the world who do care?” she said. “It doesn’t seem to be a country full of caring individuals right now, a lot of people feel written off,” she said.
“If you’re not interested in the rhetoric of bigotry, if that doesn’t represent you, then there’s a whole community of people waiting to see how generous and gracious you are,” she said.
“People are devastated by this in different ways, and I don’t know that we’re that different from each other.”