Natasha Marin, the Seattle-based conceptual artist who created the donation website Reparations.me, which gets tens of thousands of clicks daily from all over the world, remains surprised at the number of people in need and how relatively little it takes to help.
“You think you know what’s going on,” she says, Facebook notifications dinging incessantly on her computer. “Then suddenly you’re facing this portal—like, wow, there are a lot of people out there that have no choice but to take a chance on this project. There are people who are dollars away from having their lives saved short-term. That’s shocking.”
The site works like this: People of color can request goods or services (a massage, groceries, a ride to Spokane, tutoring) or whatever they need to “feel better, be happier, be more productive.” And those in a more privileged position can offer to fill those needs in some way via “time, energy, substantive care, and support.” “I called it ‘Reparations’ because the word itself means to help, to repair,” Marin says.
Created in mid-July amid high-profile police-brutality cases and the tragic mass shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the website serves two purposes: It’s an outlet for people to donate directly to those in need and, Marin says, it centers the needs of people of color. “Many of us are feeling pretty fatigued right now,” she says, breathing heavily four days after the election. “It’s hard to get into the holiday spirit.”
Right now, though, might just be the perfect time to lend a hand—or $50. In an age of open institutional racism and discrimination (see: Trump, Donald), it’s never been more imperative that those with privilege (wealth, time, energy, whiteness) leverage it to help those who don’t. And Marin’s site allows for just that. In the four months since its inception, Reparations.me has raised over $12,000 in donations and aided in numerous services.
“The project launched in the middle of the summer, and since then I’ve been continually amazed,” she says before telling the story of a woman from the Virgin Islands in need of baby clothes for her soon-to-be adopted child. “And she got those clothes! People want to help.”
When Reparations.me began, however, the artist envisioned it lasting only through the end of 2016. But whether or not that remains, Marin is right when she says, “There’s no time like the present to try it out.” reparations.me