Ghetto tourism

With a third of the Earth’s urban population—a full one billion people—now dwelling in slums, more and more youth in the current generation are coming up in ghettos, barrios and favelas. The voice of this generation is, of course, hip-hop. The world over, urban youth are claiming hip-hop as their own—their solace, their entertainment and their form of protest. The music gives voice to youth that are ignored by the education system and government, harassed by police and demonized by the media. Youth who live in illegal shantytowns, their very presence offensive to mainstream society.

Middle-class citizens in their own countries would never dream of venturing into these areas, but now tourists from abroad are flocking to slums in what’s being tagged “reality tourism.” According to an article in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper—which sites a recent report unveiled at the World Travel Market trade fair—“safe-danger” or “controlled-edge” experiences are the hot new travel trend. From Brazil to South Africa, tourists are embarking on guided tours of the world’s poorest neighborhoods.

I have no idea what to make of this. On the one hand, it seems pretty straightforward. It’s bizarre to tour a ghetto as if it were a zoo, staring at its inhabitants like they are some exotic animals. I can’t see how any genuine sense of connection could be forged. I imagine residents end up feeling more than a little resentful at the intrusion.

But then again, who knows? Maybe the tours bring much-needed revenue. Maybe they serve to break down the immense barriers of fear that separate these neighborhoods from the rest of the world. Maybe any opportunity to demonstrate that these places are full of regular people going about their lives—living, loving, working, having families, building communities—is worth something.

Even so, you have to wonder why these people feel the need to go to foreign countries to visit a ghetto. I’m pretty sure they could find one in their own country to get involved with. If people are so intent on connecting with the world’s poor, why go halfway across the world? Why not start by going to the zip codes in your own country that folks shun and avoid?

I’m willing to bet that some rapper somewhere in the world has recorded a track weighing in on these ghetto tours. Does any know?

  • Moe Real

    Didn’t you just write about how people should go to “ghettos” so that they know what one looks like? I think every university student should be forced to go to a developing country…if only for perspective.

    Aside, there are more overweight people in the world than starving people.

  • che

    >Maybe the tours bring much-needed revenue.

    I dunno, it’s hard to imagine them getting off the bus and buying souvenirs from the liquor store on the corner..

  • P

    T, keep us posted on this

  • P

    “Aside, there are more overweight people in the world than starving people.”

    Which is also a class issue. Don’t see too many rich fat people now do we?

  • jacquez
  • derfla the hus’la

    I wouldn’t give a damn about tourist going to a ghetho unless they had aid equipment with them.

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz da’realestwritin’

    I hope the people in the hood give these so called “tourist” a first hand experience of the hood>I hope tgey get robbed so they can feel poverty and beat down to feel frustration and the plight of our ghetto youth, I also hope no one feeds they victim ass so they know what it feels like to go with out food then I want a honky cop to shoot wanna thses cocksuckers while he’s reachin for his passport so that they may feel black injustice. Tour dat you punk bitches! y’all might not see this shit but these mofos is tryna put us on exhibit like monkeys or sumin! fuck dat!! they come thru here I”m blammin! TOur dis’ fucka’s!!

  • EReal

    I hope someone gets robbed and killed on one of these tours.
    Welcome to the hood “click click”.
    How stupid are some people? If you continually bring busses of rich tourists through my hood to gawk at us, its only a matter of time before anyone on that bus is now face down with cold steel against their neck, gettin they pockets ran and we’re NOT starving.
    This is gonna be a FACT eventually when this happens and I will laugh at people’s lack of common sence.
    If you wanna help people and see the ghettos and ACUALLY help people, join the red cross or the peace corps and go down to New Orleans and help people. Dont sit on a bus with your golf visor on taking pictures of the ghetto out the windows you ignorant bastards.
    This is HIGHLY offensive to me and these people deserve whatever happens to them on theses “ghetto tours”. Thats my word.

    1 hunned.

  • content

    Ya’ll need to read more carefully. The tours aren’t viewing ‘ghettos’ in America but instead those in third world countries. And I’m pretty sure if you have access to a computer and are typing responses you’re not really living in a ghetto anyway.

    It’s funny how these e-thugs get on here and make threats through a keyboard.

    >face down with cold steel against their neck

    lol

  • Three4

    Content…I agree…

  • thoreauly77

    the whole thing sniffs of white upper-class privilege. co-sign to everyone so far.

  • EReal

    @ Content.

    Actually, tho only way I use a computer is either at the library up town or at my job. I dont have a computer at home, so I take offense to that. In all actuallity what I said would happen in my hood, if you dont believe me check the murder rate for unincorporated orange county, florida. Shit aint no joke where I live homie.
    In fact, its alot MORE LIKELY to happen in 3rd world country ghettos than the ones here. Shit, over in Haiti and Mexico, Brazil, ect. theres madd people being kidnapped, killed, robbed already. Take a busfull of money carrying tourists there and see what happens.
    I wasn’t making E-threats either, I haven’t done that in any of my posts. I was stating the obvious, that shit like that wouldn’t go down well in my hood and that’s most likely what would end up happening to ignorant bastards like that. Choose to believe what you want, but not everyone needs to act tuff on the internets for attention / bravado.

    1 hunned.

  • http://www.dallaspenn.com Billy X. Sunday

    Poor people are important images for middle class moreso than for wealthy people. Poor people make the middle class work harder and longer, just so they don’t have to be poor.

    Rap music has long since been the ‘urban safari’ for people that want to experience the virtual ghetto but ultimately don’t want to come in contact with the residents or worse still be labeled as poor as the residents.

    The biggest difference between rap music from the poor neighborhoods in the U.S. and the poor neighborhoods abroad is that outside of the U.S. they try to use rap to find solutions and bring a sense of hope. People in the U.S. treat poverty and desperation are like clothing that must always be worn.

  • content

    @ EREAL

    You seem to be genuine. It’s just frustrating to come on here everyday and have to weed through all of the responses that are simply looking for a negative response back. Judging from your last post you do seem to be speaking from the gut rather than speaking from a rap song, tv show, etc.

    Bottom line

    I disagree with the ‘touring the ghetto’ idea as well. I just want the priveleged to see the struggle and not the crime when they visit.

  • MESSIAH

    Seven 2 Seven

    Thats How We Do It In Da BURG

    these ghetto tours wont last long.
    something will happen

  • EReal

    ^ I feel you homie, and I dont blame you for callin it like that. I see alot of the kids on here and how they act, so I know alot of the time it is bullshit, so its all good.
    I think its important to see and experience pverty and despair, but I also find it to be extremely demeaning to the residents and a major security risk at the same time. I think the “ideal” behind it is a constructive one, but the “idea” of having tour busses of tourists comin thru the hood just makes me sick, kna mean?

  • My Effin’ Opinion

    EREAL .. Orange County huh …

    I would LOVE to see one of these tours stroll down Pine Hills or Parramore

  • Belize

    Str8 up..any off these fukerz try and make a tour in Belize City, dem rude bwoyz on Canal street and back in Yabra will fuk them up!

    Fukin disgrace that people wanna make us a fukin puppetshow

    Good post though Tara – even though this di piss me off!

  • CONTENT

    We have to look at who is profiting from these tours. Too often do people use a worldly issue to gain sympathy for a cause while all along their mind is on the money.

  • mannyworld33

    P Says:

    February 5th, 2007 at 9:28 am
    “Aside, there are more overweight people in the world than starving people.”

    Which is also a class issue. Don’t see too many rich fat people now do we?
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    ROSIE O’DONNELL LMAO!

  • http://www.myspace.com/16kingz da’realestwritin’

    conversation on ghetto tour bus-

    rich white man: oh! look honey the lil’ black monkeys have to ride a mass transportation vehicle to thier so called jobs where they make 5.75$ an hour! how charming!

    uppity wife: how ever do they do it! my god you mean to tell me some of these children will never make it to see 21 due to lack of eduaction and urban violence ?!

    rich white man: oh dear don’t forget the drugs were pumping into their nieghborhoods via the goverment!

    uppity wife: crack does make them quite hilarious! haha! and this what some of them feed thier families with!

    rich white man: I feel so in touch with my ghetto brethren, now i feel thier struggle it makes me want to smoke a “L” wit’ the homies!

    uppity wife: deary don’t be silly!most of these little nigglets aren’t smoking due to stress they do it because they like being suppressed!

    wife and husband: ahhhh isn’t great to be white! oops i mean right! hahhahahahaha.

    fuck who don’t agree wit’ my comments bitch wrong is wrong.period.

  • john cochran

    Every time I ride through my hood looking out the window I feel like I’m on some kind of ghetto safari. You see all kind o shit cruising through North philly 2:00 am in the morn. If these rich bastards really wanna see some shit they should ride with me. Yall can experience getting pulled over and everything.

  • SukedowN

    It is apparent you are not familiar with the extent of levels of poverty across the world when you are comparing American slums to those in South America.

    >>”Ya’ll need to read more carefully. The tours aren’t viewing ‘ghettos’ in America but instead those in third world countries.”

    Agreed, but be careful with how you throw around “third world”. It is meaningless term, since 80% of the world’s population is considered living in third world countries. What really matters is how evolved/devolved a country is.

  • qwtqwy

    didnt you go to africa to do the same thing?

    talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

  • john cochran

    Aint it funny how all those celebs run over to Africa when they wanna be seen doing something good. Not saying they dont need help, but why not bring yo ass to the hood just 30 minutes away from your big estate in the burbs feel me.

  • derfla the hus’la

    da’realestwritin’ Says:

    February 5th, 2007 at 3:18 pm
    conversation on ghetto tour bus-

    rich white man: oh! look honey the lil’ black monkeys have to ride a mass transportation vehicle to thier so called jobs where they make 5.75$ an hour! how charming!

    uppity wife: how ever do they do it! my god you mean to tell me some of these children will never make it to see 21 due to lack of eduaction and urban violence ?!

    rich white man: oh dear don’t forget the drugs were pumping into their nieghborhoods via the goverment!

    uppity wife: crack does make them quite hilarious! haha! and this what some of them feed thier families with!

    rich white man: I feel so in touch with my ghetto brethren, now i feel thier struggle it makes me want to smoke a “L” wit’ the homies!

    uppity wife: deary don’t be silly!most of these little nigglets aren’t smoking due to stress they do it because they like being suppressed!

    wife and husband: ahhhh isn’t great to be white! oops i mean right! hahhahahahaha.

    fuck who don’t agree wit’ my comments bitch wrong is wrong.period.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^
    lol…. I agree bro thats exactly how it’s goe’s down with rich people it’s jus another reality show to them.

  • blaQ

    thw white man observing the exotic black man. wot do u expect, after all darwin called the negro a less evolved species, yet people swallow his evolutionary bullcrap.

  • mista23

    Theres something a bit different but of the same essence of what your talking about Tara. A player on the Golden State Warriors Adonal Foyle wrote a song or poem (don’t know because I only heard him reading the words during an interview on the C-Span or C-Span 2 or one of the U.S. political networks) about how foreigners (basically white people) come to the islands of the West Indies and spend time on sheltered resorts only having an image depicted of the islands as a beautiful place, oblivious to how oppressed and volatile the lands are.

    These travel companies rape the islands for finicial gain where the proceeds go to the government which rarely trickle down to the people. I got family in Trinidad and shit is fucked up on these islands.

  • blaQ

    rich white man: oh! look honey the lil’ black monkeys have to ride a mass transportation vehicle to thier so called jobs where they make 5.75$ an hour! how charming!

    uppity wife: how ever do they do it! my god you mean to tell me some of these children will never make it to see 21 due to lack of eduaction and urban violence ?!

    rich white man: oh dear don’t forget the drugs were pumping into their nieghborhoods via the goverment!

    uppity wife: crack does make them quite hilarious! haha! and this what some of them feed thier families with!

    rich white man: I feel so in touch with my ghetto brethren, now i feel thier struggle it makes me want to smoke a “L” wit’ the homies!

    uppity wife: deary don’t be silly!most of these little nigglets aren’t smoking due to stress they do it because they like being suppressed!

    wife and husband: ahhhh isn’t great to be white! oops i mean right! hahhahahahaha.

    fuck who don’t agree wit’ my comments bitch wrong is wrong.period.
    ^^^^^^^^^^^6
    co-sign. haha…u made my day. u should hav done chapelle sow.

  • E AKA THE REAL NORIEAGA

    I’m gonna be loving it when your rich folks show up in Mexico City to observe the locals as if they’re animals and you gringos get robbed or kidnapped.

  • Whiteman

    Bitch what “ghetto” did you grow up in that gives you such an insite into things. People who are all into their music are sub-urban white kids like you people in the ghetto sell drugs and shoot people you dumb bitch stop trying to act like your black. Have you ever met someone from an actual ghetto other than black guys you fuck that doesn’t make you black!!!

  • 6 100

    Tara, I read but hardly ever post, but there are 6 billion people in the world. Bringin your questionable quote of 1/3 of the worlds population being poor = 1 billion wrong.

    The number is over 1/2 at 3.4+ billion people.

  • thatwhitedude

    its sorta hypocritical to say in one post that people need to visit the ghettos to learn about them and other people’s suffering yet in a later post to say that upper class people shouldnt be “touring” and observing the living situations of those poorer than them…

  • http://www.xxlmag.com TARA

    6100: You’re prob right that the number is 3.4 billion for the world’s poor. But I’m talking about people that aren’t just poor, but live in slums too. UN Habitat has that number at 1 billion.

    THAT WHITE DUDE: I don’t see anything hypocritical about suggesting that it’s not cool to take ghetto tours. There’s a lot of ways people can get involved with these communities and actually contribute something, as opposed to just doing random tourist drive-bys.

  • Bobo D

    I’m from South Africa and when I back
    to the so called “ghetto” to visit my grandma or old friends, I still find
    it strange to see mini-buses full of tourist taking photos of the lowerclass, dont you get to see shit like that on the discovery channel. But I guess it aint the same as a personal view when the show you Nelson Mandelas old home, where the
    youth protested against apartheid and Ohhh there goes KFC incase your tired
    of “ghetto grilled chicken”.

    Or maby they just wanna get robbed
    half way across the globe, any tourist is a easy target for any pickpockter.

  • The DJ Formerly Known as N-CREDIBLE

    That shit is pathetic and moronic…they did the same bullshit with my city New Orleans after the storm…they did tours of the devastated areas as if it were hollywood…listen to hollywood divorce…weezy’s verse…he makes mention of it with 2 lines…but that shit is wrong…just another way for people outside of the hoods to make money and profit from the poor…if your going to tour do what oprah does(even though she has turned her back on the at risk right here in the good ole U S of A)…when she visits she build a school…poverty can easily be reversed but that would mean the rich dont get as big of a piece as they normally would…hate and greed is the reason poverty exist in this world…dont blame the people blame the state and the wealthy…to whom much is given mush is required…The Great Bob Marley did his part all you other mega stars need to follow his legacy…

  • EReal

    @ Effin

    Yeah my dude, thats what im talkin about. Take em on down the Trail, LMFAO.
    Like I said, *click click*

    1 hunned.

  • Karim From St Thomas

    being from an island where white folks jumped off or tour busses asking us to pose for pictures i can tell you the only thing this will serve is one of them getting hurt. We were not and are not animals and dont want to be treated as some experiment or picture window. Ive seen the crowds in harlem to visit the “Black Sites” and i hear the comments of the residents. We here and in the islands know these people, they have always been there, just to come in and give some people some sad eyes and to say youve been someplace when it shows up in a movie These people are not helping anyone but themselves and their own guilty feelings. To make them think they are giving back to the communities that they and their forefathers fleeced to get the money to take those tours. Those tours are not based in the hood and none of that money gets left there, unless you want to count the guy that sells them snapples. Tourism is tourism, people go to step outside themselve for many different reasons but usually the good of the people or societies they are gawking at is not high on the list. Black life, like its music and as shown in those ” somebody needs to get fucked up for this” BLACK PARTIES, is simply something to be bought, played with, seen from a distance and then quietly put away like the “flings” that white yuppies have with us people of color then act as if it never happened. One of them always get bold and walks one too many steps in the dark side and realizes they had no business theere and never want to go back. Its like Chris rock said, Noone would change places and hes rich.

  • SilverBack Gorilla

    Being poor in Africa is totally different than being poor in America. They don’t have running water & sewers & TV’s & PS3′s, XBox etc. Not to downplay our own struggle here in the hells of North America, its just a level of extreme poverty I wouldn’t wish on any black/brown person. They don’t rock $300 outfits like we do.

    Orlando & that whole surrounding area is sick w/ crime (i.e. Crime Hills).
    & Like DA’REALESTWRITIN’ pointed out, its a show for them. Hopefully they get a sense of gratitude for their place in life & a inclination to give back to better their society, but I doubt that happens.

    ” I think rich people & poor people shoud switch places [every few weeks], that way they can see how hard it is…”
    -Tupac

  • Boner Jams 03

    Thanks for the post Ms. Mother Theresa Oprah Bono Mutombo

  • megs

    I went on a tour while staying at a resort in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. It wasn’t sold as a ghetto tour, but we did go to a sugarcane plantation, which is might as well be a Haitian ghetto. The people who live and work there have to put up with rich folks driving through their nightmares snapping photos-every day. I could see the resentment in the children’s eyes.
    How are these new “safe-danger” tours any different than what’s already being offered?
    Most times you go to a resort country and go on a tour outside the resort, you are a voyeur of other people’s plight.
    Maybe it’s just time that people take an interest in whats going on, beyond their own backyards.

  • NickeNitro

    After reading the whole article, I don’t quite see what’s so wrong with it. Honestly, the favelas are interesting, and I think if anyone’s being exploited, it’s the ones who are paying money to have a guide.

    My experience has always been if you’re not looking for trouble, you probably won’t find it, and if you don’t act like a dick, you won’t get treated like one. It’s the dumb shits who act like they’re better than people with less money and arrogantly flaunt their status that get messed with.

    If you’re not stupid about where you go, treat people like human beings and get to know them on a friendly level, you don’t need some guide. The overwhelming majority of people are civilized, even if they don’t have very much. And many poor people wish that more people would realize that and not feel like they should be scared or they’re about to get robbed. That was one of the main themes of Basquiat’s works.

    Take this part from the article, for instance: “It was shocking,” says fellow Toronto resident Yanik Baron. “The living conditions are worse, the comunidade makeup is more complex than I could have imagined . . . and the people in there are nicer than you would imagine. Real people, trying hard to make a living outside a system that merely pities them.”

    That’s important. This guy learned something, he gained some appreciation, and him being able to see the poor as normal human beings is probably going to make him more inclined to help people when he gets back home, or maybe just shy away less from being acquaitances with someone less fortunate (but do you have poor people in Canada?). And I’m sure the people he met enjoyed being able to show their culture to someone one and to show that there is more to them than just their poverty.

    In the western world, the media hides the real face of poverty as much as they can. They don’t want the middle and upper classes to realize just how inhumanely and sickly the elites are taking advantage of so many people all across the globe, because if most people took time off from their daydream lives to see what was really happening, they wouldn’t stand for it. Seems like it’s that way all over: “Historically, the Brazilian elite have tried to ignore us. Block us from view. Pretended we’re not even part of the landscape,” Quirino says.

    These global elites are the sick monsters, not poor people. It was a revelation for people in the US to see just how poorly people were living in New Orleans when Katrina was the big story (it still should be). The US may be a wealthy country, but the poor here are desperately poor. The high infant mortality rate here is criminal. So people seeing the human side of poverty firsthand (you can’t really understand someone else’s experience from TV or a book), as well seeing the true depths of the struggle, is a good thing.

    What sounds bad to me from the article are the companies that are now coming in to promote it like a dangerous expedition. Obviously, nothing I wrote above applies in that situation. That’s ignorant and offensive, and it’s going to have so many negative effects that are just going to set the residents back. But that’s what big money does. Anyone taking a “tour” on a premise like that is a dick and deserves to get messed with.

  • paul

    tara is a wigger

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