A curious white person representing a small philanthropic group asks to be shown around a community - and they’re willing to pay well.
There are no strings attached, but is it all good?
“Slum tourism,” as this is called, happens all over the globe to poor Black communities. It started in England's Victorian era when wealthy Europeans decided to experience poverty “first-hand.” They wanted a discussion topic for their dinner parties and to bring attention to how the poor were treated.
But there’s a deeper issue.
Many believe slum tourism is another way to exploit Black people's pain and poor living conditions. Similar to human zoos that once existed for the sole entertainment of white people, these slum tours put the economic conditions of Black people on full display.
However, many locals aren’t upset by this at all.
These tours are a way to make money. They connect the parts of cities tourists usually spend money in with the poor spaces often hidden away. The tours provide opportunities for locals to make money as tour guides, cooks, and nature experts.
This scenario isn't new for many Black people experiencing poverty. Whether slum tourism is a zoo or a come-up, remember that poverty isn’t the enemy. The systemic racism and colonialism that created slums in the first place is!