My Hangups about asking for money

Christmas_pix_3x2x150During most of 2013, I wrote letters and emails asking people to help me complete my Transforming Hate Project installation and The Proposal artist book publication with tax-deductible donations of money through Artspire.

To me, the process of raising money for projects was taking time away from my real work. Today I am learning to modify that concept.

Background: I grew up, in the 1940’s and 1950’s, in a poor black working class neighborhood outside Washington, D.C. Asking someone outside the family for help or for money was seen as bringing shame on the family. If the family could not provide what you wanted, then you were to “do without.” But the hardest part was what went on inside our family. Asking my father for a dollar was asking to be humiliated. You never saw a man get so pissed off and angry. And you never forgot his words or the way he screwed up his face.

Even if times were tight and bills overdue, money was whispered about. All kinds of unspoken deeds were done so that our large family’s needs were met. But body language and looks say a lot more than words; so at a young age, I figured out ways to earn money for school supplies and things like that in order not to ask for money.

Today, even asking for money that owed to me is not easy to do. When I support causes, with no expectation of anything in return, I feel good that I can help. But when I ask for a donation or contribution, even when the money is not for one of my projects, I feel like I am begging and that makes me feel bad.

So I was really surprised when an artist asked me why I had not asked her to donate to my Transforming Hate project. Knowing that she did not have that much for herself, I had not approached her.

But she said to me, “I like to support things that I care about. Your project would give me an opportunity to help with something that matters to me.”


If you would like tax-deductible donation, visit this link: Artspire Fundraising Page