On Slum Tourism

So, I watch some of these slum tourism videos on youtube sometimes and often have to debate with myself on whether i agree with it or not.  There is the argument that funds from the tours go to building up some of these heavily visited poverty stricken areas.  That may be true, what also may indeed be fact is that it is a good way to completely understand more fully a city and country.  I get that and support it as well.  I guess what I have a problem with is just the passing through looking at other human beings as if they are animals in a zoo.  the “ooooo aaaaah” look how they live, pointing and whatnot.  It must be an interesting psychological situation to be  on foot in a favela, or a township in South Africa, or maybe somewhere in Southeast Asia.  You are placed eye to eye with some of the poorest of the poor people, but you are paying to be there, and you have the opportunity to leave while they are stuck there.


I lived in what you could classify as a slum in Panama, but that happened because of circumstance and what i thought were my best options for survival at that the time in a foreign country earning low wages.  I lived 10 months in a condemned, roofless, power stealing, mold producing, rat infested building in the neighborhood of Calidonia.  I was with a woman who I loved and respected as an equal, and all of the people that I associated with in that neighborhood were treated as equals in a real way, whether i agreed with what they did or not.  When I saw tourists come around there I got the feeling that the same respect wasnt shared.  Mainly because I could understand their english and could here the things they would say.  Always laughingly gesturing, and culturally ignorant the world is almost viewed as their oyster of entertainment.  My experiences living there and dealing with foreign tourists who didn’t know that i could understand them left a sour taste in my mouth for what could be called “slum tourism”


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