What’s Wrong With Crowdfunding For A Trip To Vegas?

March 3, 2015  |  

GoFundMe

GoFundMe

Lots of people take great pride in not asking or expecting a cot damn thing from the world.

I find this especially true with most women.

We think it’s noble and dignified to not get what we want out of life. We say things like, “I don’t ask nobody for nothin’” and brag about the struggle we had to endure to get just a portion of the things we want. We revel in our lone-wolf independence. And our exceptional work ethic, combined with our ability to not be vulnerable at times, is the foundation of our “strength.” Or so we’re told.

But what would happen if one day, one of us strong-willed women decided to forgo expectations of strong womanhood and just asked for what she wanted?

That’s exactly what New Jersey author and aspiring filmmaker Jameelah Kareem decided to do when she created a GoFundMe page soliciting donations for an upcoming vacation. In short: Kareem is trying to go to Las Vegas in May for the Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight, and wants to partake in the festivities that will proceed and follow it.

Her pitch is pretty straightforward: “I’m cute. I like free money. You donating or naw? Lol!” Her request is accompanied by a photo of herself posing seductively on a balcony overlooking the Vegas skyline. She is looking for a few compassionate souls to take pity on a beautiful woman and chip in $1,500 towards the cause. For those who contribute more than $50, they will get signed copies of her books, All Money Ain’t Good Money: A Tale of Greed and Toxic (both available on Amazon).

The page has been up for only four days and thus far, more than a dozen people have donated more than half of what she needs for the turn up.

The page has also elicited plenty of what Mary J. Blige used to call, “hateration.” In particular, Kareem, who has a degree in journalism from Rutgers University, as well as a thriving career as an independent and published author, has been mocked on various social media sites for her financial request. She has even been labeled “trifling” and a “THOT.”

I reached out to Kareem via her fundraising page to get her thoughts on all the heat she has been receiving online. I also wanted to know if she was serious with this fundraiser, or if this was all some clever marketing ploy to promote her book.

“It started as a joke out of curiosity,” she says via email. “I saw the potato salad man raise over 10k when he only asked for $10. So I got curious and posted one [a fundraiser].”

The “potato salad man,” as Kareem affectionately calls him, is Zack “Danger” Brown, a native of Columbus, Ohio. He successfully trolled the Internet with a Kickstarter campaign to purchase ingredients to make some potato salad. He only asked for $10 and ended up raising more than $55,000 instead.

Kareem says that while Brown would serve as major inspiration for why she decided to take a chance with her fundraiser, she had no idea what would come of it. The burgeoning author admits that “once it got some attention, of course I had to throw my books up there.”

Kareem also tells me that she regularly takes trips to Sin City and has taken part in previous fight weekend festivities. As she reminds me, everyone is looking to cash in on the weekend, which attracts a variety of celebrities and ballers. That includes the airline and hotel industry, which will double, and in some instances, triple its prices for travel and lodging. Although Kareem maintains that she’s not broke, she also says that she is just not feeling the idea of spending extra money for the same ol’ Vegas trip she has taken at least five times over the last year alone. And while the whole Vegas fundraiser started out as a joke, she is looking forward to “wasting someone else’s money” for a change.

“Why pay for it if someone is going to pay for it for you?”

Well, that’s the entrepreneurial spirit…

And in all honesty, I don’t know what the big deal is. First of all, she’s not violating any of the guidelines listed on the GoFundMe website. Secondly, there are actual crowdsourcing sites like Trevolta that are made for folks seeking money for personal vacations, so the concept is not exactly a novel one. And finally, if you’re honest, I’m sure you would agree that the idea is freaking brilliant. I once considered a similar idea of crowdsourcing through travel essays to help cover the cost associated with an upcoming trip to South Africa. I didn’t follow through with it, but now I’m totally wishing I would have. Heck, I might still do it. Anybody trying to buy my book?

At any rate, while crowdsourcing a vacation is not unheard of, this sort of financial vulnerability appears to be something we frown upon, specifically when the fundraiser is pitched by a young black woman. When asked what role she felt her gender has played in the negative responses she has received, Kareem says, “Of course the reaction is because I’m a young Black woman. No one uses the term THOT but our culture. A white guy raised $2,000 to go to Vegas, but no one cared. For some reason our culture loves to scream THOT and throw shade when they’re salty.”

And if I could highlight one other distinction, I highly doubt that this young Black woman would be called a “THOT” if she was wearing Kente cloth and her fundraiser was about writing spoken word under an Adansonian tree in Tanzania. I’m certain that people would chip in a few dollars to help. I see and get tons of those kinds of requests all the time, but that kind of frivolous begging is okay for some reason. Not to mention, alleged “hos” go to the motherland too. The thriving gigolo industry in Kenya is proof of that.

Before the rise of the Internet, people used to sell chicken platters, have rent parties, and even sell weed to make a little extra cash for the luxuries they wanted life. But now, thanks to modern technology, we can take that form of street hustling to a smarter and less time-consuming level: like just asking for help online. And what’s wrong with that? Everyone is always asking for money. Even PBS likes to interrupt their programming, which includes shows about some well-off white man traveling to and “exploring” remote lands on somebody else’s dime, so that they can hit us up for some money in exchange for those stupid tote bags and umbrellas. What’s the difference? Not much if you ask me.

In the meantime, Kareem says that she has not been deterred by any of the negative reactions. In addition to begging for money on the Internet, she is also finishing her first script, which is based off of one of her books (you can watch the trailer here). She will also crowdfund to raise the finances for that as well, and she isn’t too prideful to do so.

“The Internet is powerful and people who don’t know how to use it will sit on the side and hate.”

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