A question about race and asking for money.

This question is mainly for people from the Southern U.S., since I think that it’s as much cultural as racial, but everyone is welcome to chime in with their thoughts.

It’s becoming more and more common for strangers to come up and ask for gas money, claiming to be stranded, and trying to give the impression that they aren’t beggars or scammers, but ordinary folks in a temporary fix.

Now, I would be happy to help someone in a fix, but I don’t want to be taken for a dupe. I find myself a lot less likely to want to help if the person asking is black. I talked to my husband about this, and we share a belief that if there are a mix of black and white people to ask in a public place, a black person in a temporary fix would not ask a white person for money.

What do you guys think?

I think that mentality is completely obtuse.
My philosophy is give them some pocket change if you can spare it. Weather or not they are “duping” you is irrelevant. At least I can rest easy knowing I did the right thing.

In my experience, bums ask everybody they come past no matter what the color (of bum or mark). Sometimes they ask the same person twice. I’ve haven’t noticed ‘race’ making any difference since the '60s. I’m thinking specifically of the bus and train stations of Mississippi.

That you’re a racist?

I appreciate that you are trying to give a logical reason as to why this is not racism, but the crux of your argument is that you trust a white person asking a white person for money more than a black person asking a white person for money. Basically you’re saying it’s ok because you assume that the asker is racist and so not to be trusted if they are not of your race. :dubious:

My solution is when asked for money for something is to offer to go buy it for them. It seems to work most of the time. Keep in mind though I’d not do this in a isolated place at night as going with them then might be a tad dangerous. Even during the day it could be dangerous, but it is a risk I accept.

I think that since it’s almost always a scam, you’re better off not being racist and simply giving the money to none of them.

Southern Doper here, and I agree that in the South, you are less likely to see a black person in a temporary fix approach a white person for money and vice versa. I do not think that makes you a racist for noticing, I think it makes you culturally aware.

For those who took the time to simply call you a racist without even bothering to read the OP, let me clarify – in the South, there is a lot more rampant racism than elsewhere in the US. When a black person approaches a white person to ask for money, they know full well that they are likely to be perceived as just another welfare recipient/drug addict/conman than if they approach another black person to ask for money. Someone in a temporary fix would be less likely to put themselves in that position.

Now, personally, I have only been approached twice by people trying the “I need gas money” bullshit routine – both were white and obviously strung out. Obvious to me, as I have sold, done and been around a lot of dope in my time. Both times, they were told to fuck off before I called the cops.

I say do the right thing and tell them all to fuck off and keep the money for your own and your family’s needs.

What **RickJay **said. White scamsters take advantage of the fact that some people see them as more trustworthy. Limit your offers to help to offering to call police, AAA, etc. from a public place where you feel comfortable.

I think your logic is flawed. Both black people and white people beg for money.

I bypass this problem altogether by not giving money to people who ask for it.

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s that I’m tired of feeling either like an asshole for not giving money, or a fool for giving money. So instead I just take whatever I would have given and donate it to a worthy cause.

When I was working in a predominately Black neighborhood, I was panhandled by Black guys until I wanted to scream. The story never varied: “My pickup truck is out of gas; it’s just a couple of blocks from here and my wife and baby are waiting for me to try to get a little gas money. Can you help me out with a few bucks?” I swear to God I often heard that same story five to six times a day; I finally told one of them that there must be a hell of a big vacant lot only a couple of blocks away, with a lot of wives and babies sleeping in pickup trucks that were out of gas. I believe it was the closest I’ve been to getting into an actual fight in the last forty years. The guy looked at me with as much hatred as I’ve ever seen; it was as if I were depriving him of something he was owed and had coming to him. I will swear though that the story never changed and the guys who were panhandling had it down pat, as if they had practiced it. I’ve been panhandled by white guys too but they have never tried to run down some bullshit story on me.

Thank you, Litoris. So far, I think you are the only doper in this thread to get where I’m coming from. I’m not comparing panhandlers of different races. And I’m not claiming to be totally without bias, but people, this is the South. We have history. We have issues. It’s just plain silly to pretend otherwise, and what Litoris said is 100% correct. Black people who are native to the South know they are facing that history and a certain amount of potential prejudice in every white stranger they meet, and those who have spent a lifetime trying to overcome it by earning their way are loathe to reinforce stereotypes. Maybe this is less true for younger people, I couldn’t say. But in my experience, most adult black people who are from the South would prefer to try to get help from another black person and not invite possible racism by doing anything that might give a white person a reason to think they are anything but self-reliant, hard-working and honest.

I’m not so sure. I think that a white, middle-aged lady is seen as someone who wouldn’t judge a black person so much, and so a black person in a temporary fix would not shy from asking such a woman. Especially if she reminded that person of a teacher from school, you know?

Anyway, I reckon maybe I don’t see it the way you do is because I came up in a small town with no panhandlers. So, anyone asking you for money was going to be someone you knew, or someone whose kinfolks you knew. We already knew who was telling a story or not.

Outside of that, the only places I’ve been exposed to that kind of thing are bus & train stations. All the panhandlers there seem to also be mentally ill, so I guess I really don’t know the answer to your question (even though I’ve lived in MS for almost 50 years). :slight_smile:

“Sorry I don’t have any cash on me. Poor starving graduate Student already in Debt”
To pretty much anyone who approaches me regardless of race or situation.

Unless she’s really cute. =(
But that’s never happened unfortunately.

decides to actually address the OP this time
I’ve been asked for money from both black people and white people about evenly. And they pass my “l have no cash but I’ll buy it for you” test at about the same rate. So, in my experience, assuming my test does filter out scammers, black people are no more likely to be scamming me than white people.

For reference I am a white male from a southern city.

So you like sexy bum bums?
To the OP, seems to me you are a racist, sorry, but that’s how you are portraying yourself with what is written. I’ve been in the position where someone has used the same line of crap. I asked him what kind of car he drove and it just didn’t match up with having half a tennis shoe and all… Your choice should only depend on whether you believe this person or not, or if you just want to get them out of your way. Turning someone down because they are black is simply being racist.

What if for instance a black man came up to you, between 18 and 20, clean cut, dress shirt and tie with slacks, company name badge, and provided proof he owned a vehicle, would you still turn him down because he is black? I guess he’s just a better scammer than those other ones huh…

I say, I say, this reads like you done got to the end of your post and thought, “Hmm. What if he doesn’t believe I’m from the South? I’d better go back and Southern up that second paragraph a touch!”


Interestingly, a couple friends of mine in DC got ripped off with just this technique. They lived in a controlled access building, and stepped out for dinner. A couple young, conservatively dressed & groomed young black gentleman asked their white neighbor lady to buzz them into the building. She did. They broke into my friends’ apartment and stole everything of value they could carry. My friends were only gone a half hour or so, and the guys must have been casing the place. She shouldn’t have let any strangers in, but she didn’t want to appear prejudiced, and they did seem nice.

These kids could have easily been to Mexicans, Whites, Filipinos, Homosexuals… It doesn’t matter.

But wait, it does, because if 2 white kids did this no one would ever hear about it. Since 2 black kids did it this story is spreading like wildfire and more bullshit will be thrown at the black community. End of story.


I don’t give money to anyone anymore, even if I don’t get the vibe that they are scamming me for drug/booze/spending money. I don’t care how good their story is…I think I’ve heard them all.

Recently, a friend and I were coming out of a grocery store and a fairly nicely dressed, middle-aged man (white, ftr) was outside the doors asking for money to fix a fan belt. My friend wanted to help him, even suggested offering him a RIDE somewhere, since it was raining, and I, a passenger in her van that day, said, uh, no. If you want to, fine, but I’ll wait here. Sorry, but that’s just INSANE, imo, for a woman to allow a strange man into her car.

She ended up not doing anything, but she was so sure he was on the up and up because he was well dressed and white and seemed harmless. Not me. I smelled his scam a mile away. Seen it too many times. Anybody can go to Goodwill and get a decent suit and shoes (yeah, she says, but he had nice shoes…bums don’t wear shoes like that! Um, and prosperous business men don’t hang around a supermarket exit hitting people up for spare change to fix a fan belt…they make a phone call.)

To the OP, well, you probably ARE a bit racist, since you base your judgement on race, so by definition…but I see your point; you are saying that you think it less likely for a Black person to ask you, being White, than for another White person to, assuming both were in equal, legitimate need. You’re probably right, if only because the Black person assumes you will judge them based on their race. And/or see their overture as a threat. So they are less likely to bother.