Hidden Cash St. Louis Is Upsetting and Weirdly Racist, But Who Cares, Free Money

Categories: Blowback

2. People's motivations for hunting for hidden cash reveal just how hard life can be.

Which leads us to a larger question: Why would anyone give up an afternoon for the slight chance of finding an envelope stuffed with a few twenties or tens?

Some people searching for cash say they'd spend it on treats, like the doctor who said she was buying herself some ice cream. Some are paying it forward, like the lady who bought $60 worth of coffee for people in a coffee shop with her winnings.

But the more you read about how people hope to spend their newfound money, the more the whole thing sounds like a farce staged by Occupy Wall Street to highlight the struggles of the working class. As costs for health care, transportation and food continue to rise while workers in real estate and e-commerce apparently earn more money than they know what to do with, money, even a little, goes a seriously long way on a paper-thin budget:

And if that weren't depressing enough, apparently people are flooding the original Hidden Cash account with hundreds of desperate requests for money.

"Let me say right now -- don't ask me for money," the anonymous benefactor, who has given away $10,000 so far, tells the Huffington Post. "I am giving more than most people in my position already, through various means."

3. We're even more worried about who isn't searching for hidden cash.

But the deep, inescapable irony of hidden cash has more to do with who isn't searching for cash than who is. The poorer or more socially vulnerable you are, the less likely you are to find an envelope of your own, it seems.

Let's start with the most obvious barrier to entry: The only people able to participate in Hidden Cash's secret drops are those with constant access to social media. Winners need a smartphone with Internet access and a fluent understanding of Twitter, Facebook and, now, Instagram to access clues, which are released in driblets so the organizers can hide the money without being seen.

So hidden-cash games immediately exclude the 20 percent of Americans -- mostly the elderly, poor and minorities -- who have almost no access to the Internet. For the other 80 percent of Americans, it's hard to even fathom life in 2014 without at least a dial-up connection on a desktop; that doesn't change the fact that 60 million Americans live without the Internet (let alone a Twitter account.)

But even if you have a smartphone, Internet access, social-media fluency, reliable transportation and several free hours, there's still one thing you have to get right in order to get the money: geography.

4. Oh, yeah, it's weirdly racist.

St. Louis is a notoriously segregated city, and geography here has deeply entrenched racial overtones. So far, Hidden Cash St. Louis has made drops in overwhelmingly white St. Louis suburbs: Creve Coeur, Clayton, Maplewood and St. Charles.

The anonymous donors behind Hidden Cash St. Louis constantly ask followers to suggest new locations for money drops, so it's no surprise they chose four affluent and tech-savvy neighborhoods rather than, say, Fairground Park, for the first drops.

There's still time for Hidden Cash St. Louis to add some racial and economic diversity to it's drop locations. (May we suggest Florissant? Forest Park Southeast? We'd be happy with almost anywhere in the city, really.) But so far, it seems that any treasure hunter living in a poor or black neighborhood is simply out of luck.

Luckily for Hidden Cash St. Louis, few really seem to care about the racial or socio-economic implications of their cash drops:

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at Lindsay.Toler@RiverfrontTimes.com.

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83 comments
Sarah Lange
Sarah Lange

So you admit that a cash drop at Fairgrounds Park probably isn't the best idea? Why is that? Are you saying it's a bad neighborhood? Why is it a bad neighborhood? Why don't we address the reasons behind the inequity instead of scapegoating Hidden Cash? How about you do a cash drop at Sarah & Labadie, or at Penrose & Kingshighway? When I see you out in the hood instead of spouting off righteous indignation from your loft in the Loop, maybe this won't ring so empty.

Dan Kelemen
Dan Kelemen

I am so sick of everything being racist. Somebody is always going to be left out deal with it!

Cheryl Thomas
Cheryl Thomas

I really couldn't care less if it's insensitive. Reality is harsh I suppose.

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

I can't get behind the Hidden Cash thing either but not for these reasons.

Cody Eichelberger
Cody Eichelberger

Holy shit Terrence Strong that is the most intellectual version of Bullshit I have read/or heard... well perhaps ever. You are right. Reverse racism does not exist, only racism does. "Racism" actually has a dictionary definition, you should look it up and stop kidding yourself. I don't care how you package it, or rationalize it, racism is disgusting. This is true EVEN IF the offender is of a minority race. Shame on you for justifying such ignorant behavior.

Adam C Gabor
Adam C Gabor

I "like" RFT because I do, in fact, Like them. The complainers do realize there's this nifty button called Unfollow on Facebook, right?

Tom Davis
Tom Davis

Blah blah blah, cry us a river RFT

Brandon Herges
Brandon Herges

I'd unlike RFT because I get absolutely nothing out of it, but at the same time, I enjoy seeing some of the ridiculous things they grasp at. I run adblock, anyways, so it's not like they're getting any money for my click throughs - All I'm doing is sucking up precious bandwith ;)

Cheryl Thomas
Cheryl Thomas

Yes it's always racist. Everything with RFT is racist.aybe they should drop the cash on the north side and watch people kill each other for 30 dollars. That sounds like a fun experiment. Idiots.

Tim Corkill
Tim Corkill

please drop some ladue money on the southside please...

Katey Smith Pittman
Katey Smith Pittman

RFT is weirdly racist! They could find a way to make any topic a race issue.

Rob Compton
Rob Compton

Of course it's disturbing that we live in a society where shit like this occurs. But shitting on the people giving away money isn't doing anybody any good, you're just stirring the pot of publicity.

Marc Richey
Marc Richey

So much shiz about racism RFT, give up! I don't think about race and don't want to

Mark Bland
Mark Bland

RFT is mad they didn't do it first. Listen if Hidden Cash sends the RFT some free $20 Starbucks gift cArds, they will find it hipster and like them again.

Jason L. Baños
Jason L. Baños

Drop money wherever you want! Leave it to imbeciles to complain... it's fun and free! RFT makes up another where did you go to high school issue again. No one has said that to me in years. I'm a city resident and could care less if they want their scavenger hunt for money in the county then let them have fun how they want!

Dan Carthen
Dan Carthen

You could save a babies life and people would bitch about it because "we'll he only did that because the baby is white". I can't believe this hidden cash thing is getting this kind of flack. Chill out. Calm down. Stop reading into things so deeply. It's NOT that serious.

Andy Knight
Andy Knight

They're using the wrong twitter handle. It would be more accurate if they were @hiddencash636

Ryan Stufft
Ryan Stufft

Helping is one thing, expecting a handout is another. I myself would prefer to earn what I have than go looking for handouts-let alone expect anyone to do it in STL.

Tyler Garrett
Tyler Garrett

Some guy is making a game of giving away money, and your bitching about it!? FUCK YOU RFT!

Lisa Eastman Gutterman
Lisa Eastman Gutterman

It's all in fun...it is his or hers money to do with as they please... I don't think she/he is trying to save the world from unemployment or solve world hunger...they are just bringing a little joy to a few...the "game" Is fun...stop finding reasons to hate and praise the do gooder

Melissa Kassly-Scovitch
Melissa Kassly-Scovitch

But it's ok for the RFT to base their "best of " by how often / much restaurants advertise with them . The restaurants who cannot afford to advertise don't have a chance . Hmmm..

Aaron Bland
Aaron Bland

You guys throw that term "racist" around an awful lot! Hmmmm, seems like maybe you are the racists.

slfournier
slfournier

WOW. I find myself very dissapointed with this article, although the undertones are understood.  It's unfortunate that you would seemingly complain about such a generous opportunity extended to those in the St. Louis area. This anonymous benefactor is doing this from the kindness of his/her heart. I understand complaining about a public charity or business not extending equal opportunities to all, but come on.....  So people with internet access or smart phones should be punished? This game should be shut down because 80% of society, fortunately, DO have access to these "luxuries?"  Get real! All this grumbling is what keeps people from doing nice things these days! 

........Some people will always find something to complain about! You, unfortunately, are one of them.

Jason M Parker
Jason M Parker

Racebait sells and everyones buying. What really outrages me from this article is ... "60 million Americans live without the Internet".

Nathan Kromat
Nathan Kromat

It's stupid. Let's drop money in predominantly white "safe" area's.

Deb Woods
Deb Woods

So you really want credit for something you did as a kid, Randy? LMAO. OK - well I was a girl scout so pin a badge on me and call me AWESOME. smdh...

John L. Williams
John L. Williams

RFT. I'm going to stop following you. I used to read your articles because they were entertaining and fun. It seems like every other article you post is trying to perpetuate racial bickering. Be positive and show the good that happens in St. Louis.

Brandon Herges
Brandon Herges

Yea, and if they dropped in the north or east side, you WOULD have an incident.

Lindsey Pandamonium
Lindsey Pandamonium

Thats funny...the drop a few days ago was by the st charles jail, court house, and drug testing facility. And the person who found it looked like she really needed it. Its anyones game really. Stop your belly aching!

kindlyunspoken09
kindlyunspoken09

This article is ridiculous. Let me first say that where the drops are made do not necessarily determine the people that show up. And I would like to see someone search for money in North St. Louis or East St. Louis good luck! It is not racist to be safe. And if not by social media, then how? Would you like them to hire a blimp and give clues that way? Get real. Just because people are not living in the poorest of the poor neighborhoods doesn't mean they are not struggling.  Also, I do not know how many of you have been to or are from St. Charles but the city of St. Charles is not a wealthy place!! Just because not every building you see is boarded up does not make it wealthy. The only subsidized housing you can find in the St. Charles COUNTY area is in the city of St. Charles. So everyone quit getting butt hurt that people that cannot afford to drive forty minutes to St. Louis got a chance. Lastly, I find it overly annoying that people assume someone who is out looking for money does not have a job. Let me tell you that I am a full time student, I HAVE A JOB, and was on my way home from volunteer work when I decided to go look for the cash in St. Charles. Why? Because it seemed like a fun thing to do! And you know what it was. So every one stop being a big bunch of negative F&%$*!G NANCY S and just enjoy yourself. This society is laden with people who care about nothing else then making other people miserable. Grow Up St. Louis!!

Jason Hodge
Jason Hodge

RFT , I followed ya for years , used to love your articles , as of the last two , maybe 3 years , your magazine has gone to shiet .... article about bartenders (wrote by a bartender who has a bad name for being a douche) , a article on different areas of STL (wrote by a washed up wanna be hip hop artist that turned it into a race issue) , and now this ...... is your editor and owner even aware of the crap you put in print ? Do they even read the mag ? Smh ... and you wonder why STL is behind the times.......

optinstl
optinstl topcommenter

"A stunt by OWS"-- that is brilliant.  And spot on.  So many people that I talk to and interact with everyday is feeling this economic desperation.  I don't pay for the data plan on my phone, or I would have been one of the hoards.  Our government's (local, state and federal) commitment to "business development" and private wealth is draining the rest of us. 

As for the white suburban aspect, of course it is in those neighborhoods.  People with enough money to do this don't seem to know or visit any of the urban black neighborhoods of our city.

On another note, I feel certain this idea was inspired by geo-cachers. St. Louis has a robust thriving geo-cache community. And every person that I know, including myself, when hearing about geo-caching, was disappointed to learn that it was cache and not cash. ;)

John Crusen
John Crusen

Not at all racist. RFT, stop with the race war baiting already!

kindlyunspoken09
kindlyunspoken09

Also, there is NO DIGGING IN THE TRASH. Not once has an envelope been put in the trash. They even specify in their hints that it is not in the trash. Get your story straight.

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