When the racists rally together: The real grifters

It is common for people who do anti-racism work to be referred to as grifters, and it’s one of the more commonplace insults that has been hurled at me over the years.

Depending on my mood, it can actually make me chuckle, since I can say with certainty that anti-racism work is not exactly lucrative. When I took over Community Change Inc. in 2014, our average annual budget (for a respected 45-year-old nonprofit) generally fluctuated between $160,000 and $180,000. For an organization to be that long-lived and do that much work and not even crack the $200,000 level in revenue is extraordinary. My predecessor used to regularly forgo his salary to ensure that the staff was paid. It was a rather horrifying discovery several months into my position. 

Over the years, I have grown our budget. We hit an apex in 2020, when for the first time ever, we brought in over $500,000 in revenue. It only took a moment of global horror and a pandemic to reach that place—a place that didn’t last long. Last year, we barely cracked $200,000. Mind you, I am not the only employee.

Growing up at the intersection of poor and working class is a valuable skill when running an organization with a footprint far larger than its financial resources. I make programmatic miracles happen regularly given how small our staff is. No one who works for me long term is in it for the money. We do it because we care about changing the world and dismantling white supremacy. 

Even running BGIM Media is a financial slog. I bring in enough to pay the bills and earn a little extra, but at 15 years old, the site is still well below the projections I created several years ago. My hope had been that BGIM Media would allow me to create a steady revenue stream that I could use to keep on a regular staff of writers, pay off my student loan debt, and create some level of retirement plan. 

Those loans are still not paid off, and my current retirement plan is to simply kick the bucket when I can no longer work. If a day comes when I am in ill health and too old to work, I can only hope that one of my kids likes me enough to take me in and feed me something, even if it’s kitty chow. 

I have been asked why I do this work given the fact that I could just as easily work for more financially lucrative outfits that offer things like retirement plans. And work with a lot less stress, mind you. After all, as my son recently pointed out, I have a job that is literally aging me—stressing me out to the point of health problems and for extra perks, I get the occasional death threat. I don’t know, but I guess it is because in the end, the work that I do matters. It makes a difference, and for whatever reason that matters more to me than if I went into the corporate nonprofit sector or something else more “mainstream.” 

I say all this to say that while there may be a handful of DEI experts who are raking in the big bucks with corporate training, I am not living that life and neither are 99% of people working in anti-racism circles. It is also no secret that I am not a fan of most DEI efforts. Rarely are they about structural change; they are about assimilation into a faulty system with a level of awareness. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t care less about white folks acknowledging their privilege if they are not prepared to do something with that knowledge, such as giving it up or using it in service of the larger anti-racist movement. 

I also don’t think that most white people who profess to be anti-racists are ready to use their material resources in support of dismantling racism beyond token efforts. 

However, what I do know is that active racists and white supremacists have no problem using their material resources in support of their beliefs. It is a given for them. They literally put their money where their mouths are, and I have to say that I tip my hat to them for their commitment.

Like me, they clearly believe in living their values. Even if their values are oppression and disenfranchisement.

Unlike me, they seem to access money more readily.

I was reminded of this today when I came across a story about a Go Fund Me campaign for Sarah Jane Comrie. 

Comrie is the latest viral racist white woman. She is a healthcare professional at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital, who recently went viral for her exchange with a group of young Black men over a rental e-bike. In the video that has been circulating, we see Comrie attempting to take a bike from a rack that a young Black man says he paid for,

Comre, who is pregnant, decided that—rather than talk to these young men and get things sorted out like a normal non-racist person—she would yell out for help. After all, nothing helps a white woman get her way faster than yelling help when surrounded by a group of young Black men. A fellow white hospital worker came to her aid, and initially suggested that the young Black man let Comrie have the bike.

The problem though is that by almost all indications so far that I’ve seen, the young Black man paid for the bike and it was on his account—so, rightfully, he wasn’t backing down. At which point, Comrie decided to play the white woman tears card, which the young Black men called her on. In the end, Comrie didn’t get that bike, but the exchange was recorded and, well, in 2023 such recordings make their way across the internet. 

Comrie’s employer is now investigating the matter and she has retained an attorney who claims Comrie has receipts proving she was in the right. As others have pointed out: If that was the case, why didn’t that exchange happen when the incident was occurring? Why yell out for help, thus putting the young Black men’s lives in danger? Why pull out the crocodile tears? Why remove and try to conceal your identifying hospital badge when you realized you were being recorded?

Why not have a civil conversation with the young men who in the video were being quite respectful despite the fact that Comrie was trying to grab one of the men’s phones out of his hands.


Because it’s usually easier to weaponize being a pregnant white woman to get your way than it is to actually take a few minutes to get to the heart of the matter in a way that does not dehumanize or endanger the lives of the young Black men. 

As I have said many times, white women are uniquely positioned. They can be both the oppressed and the oppressor. Crossing one of them can and has had deadly consequences for many Black men. 

However, many white folks see Sarah Jane as a victim of a campaign to brand her a racist and jeopardize her livelihood. And to help her out, her Uncle Bob started a Go Fund me campaign to help with her legal expenses. He set it at $50,000 and in 24 hours, $42,000 had been raised. 

This is not an anomaly. Whenever a white person is accused of racism, their fellow racists rally to their side with cash. In fact, I would say that harming or killing Black and brown people is a lucrative gig—far more financially lucrative than trying to dismantle racism.

Daniel Penny, Kyle Rittenhouse, and many others before her have all received an oversized outpouring of support, including financial support. Those of us who call out this behavior, such as journalist Monique Judge, can expect to get a healthy dose of racial slurs and stress from defenders of racist whites.

Most certainly, no will set up a Go Fund Me unprompted for the general wellness of Black folks engaged in anti-racism work. At best, you will be thanked for providing awareness and the occasional white person might offer a Venmo to buy you a much-needed drink or meal. If you are really lucky, someone might sign up for your Patreon. I don’t know—it seems to me the real grift is being a racist white person behaving poorly in public. Book deals, large amounts of cash—a racist white person can parlay their actions into a whole new career. It begs the question: Who is really grifting?

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Image by Tim Marshall via Unsplash