Are you planning an event and in desperate need for an "intellectual black guy" or a "cheerful woman of color" to attend so that your panel or program doesn't look as white as, say, the Oscars?
Rentaminority.com is here to help! With just a few clicks, the website offers you "a minority for every occasion." Diversity on-demand, it promises!
Of course, the site is entirely satirical. Its inspiration and purpose, however, is no laughing matter.
Rent-A-Minority was created by Arwa Mahdawi, a chief strategy officer at an ad agency in New York, who wanted to find a way to highlight the lack of diversity in tech and media. Mahdawi's goal is get people angry about tokenism and institutional inequality.
"Companies are making lots of noise about addressing diversity but aren't doing anything meaningful about it," Mahdawi told The Huffington Post. "Often they're being extremely patronizing without seeming to realize it."
Mahdawi and six of her colleagues attended the "Stupid Hackathon," an event where attendees come up with silly ideas, in New York earlier this month. There, they conceived of and launched Rent-A-Minority.
For Mahdawi, the most effective way to get across an important point about a difficult issue is through humor.
Here's a screen shot from the website with hilarious captions about the various minorities the site offers:
Mahdawi, a 32-year-old Palestenian-English woman, says her idea for the site was born out of frustration from "32 years of having small moments where [she has] felt like [she's] had to apologize for [herself] in some way." She added: "32 years of often being the only non-white, non-male, non-heterosexual person in a room."
The site, which launched just over one week ago, has attracted visitors at a rapid rate.
Mahdawi says the response has been largely positive so far, although some people missed the joke and have actually submitted their personal information to the site's fake sign-up box.
"[To be honest], I just put it there to make the site look more legit," she said. "I didn't realize so many people would actually sign up! I've had over 300 people sign up now."
Mahdawi says she will collect and share information submitted to the site's "Minority Report," where people submit their experiences being minorities in mostly-white spaces. She says she might eventually publish submissions on the site. For now, she's doing so on Twitter.
"It's always good to know other people have had your experiences," she said. "And that it represents a bigger problem that needs to be addressed...sharing experiences does that."
Mahdawi believes she's struck a chord with countless people. "It's been fun to do," she said.
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