i’ve got to know why

touring the favelas of rio is some new cute tourist activity. i need to know what the deal is. is it just an issue of cheap lodging? is poverty simply so fascinating that the visitors have to go see how the other half lives not in their own nations, but in latin america? are people actually working in these communities to change them, like grupo cultural afro reggae?

i ask because i’m black. & i come from salt-of-the-earth, hard working black folks who worked hard as hell to get everything they’ve ever had — just like most of the world’s poor folks. i don’t know what it is, but i don’t see a whole lot of these same do-gooders trying to stay in the states & help folks in the hood here. i don’t. i do, however, tend to see folks with purportedly activist & altruistic leanings trying to get me to sign up for save the children while i’m on my freaking lunch break. i bristle at the mere notion that organizations like dialoguedirect are hiring young folks here & putting them to work to raise money. it bothers me that direct action doesn’t seem to be an option for folks anymore. & maybe it is; perhaps i’m not in the right circles. i could be kind of removed from the activist community by virtue of my day job. i’m not certain. maybe the widespread notion that white folk just cannot be trusted is really ingrained in my head & i have yet to shake it off.

but touring the hood? like that shit is cute? i really, really hope that’s not the case. the police maim & kill however & whomever they want to. it’s not a secret. it’s a lot harder for police here to get away with that shit. & i’m not implying that the lack of safety in favelas (or any slums, or squatter communities anywhere) should be a reason withhold help or to stay away altogether. but, let’s be for real: some of these same folks (nicknamed ‘poorists‘) are not tryna crash in or near the now-defunct cabrini-green homes when they go to chicago. they were never trying to hang around the 4th ward of new orleans. never.

some of these same folks will just gush about the humanity of the people, & the beauty, etc . . . then make a nasty face at the black kids sitting near them on the subway. come the hell on. hell, when they come teeming from gringolandia into the city where my family lives, it’s not about anything other than shopping & maybe picking up a hooker or running some drugs. but you go into a store like marti’s (btw, a white man, i believe an american, owns that store) & hear all the cooing about what’s so cute, how _____ is so authentic, and goddess knows what else. it makes me sick.

i try my damnedest not to be that woman, the one who gives kids money because they’re just so cute & it must make their day to get coins from an american. i don’t want to be the lady who loves la raza so much when i’m there but shuns the dude who’s bussing my table at vietnam palace.

i dunno. i’m rambling.
but my original question still kinda stands: what’s up w/ that?

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. PretaMulatta
    Aug 27, 2007 @ 12:56:00

    i admit it. and i want 2 correct it. i’m MUCH more apt 2 give 2 folks when i get back 2 brasil than folks i see on the corner in my neighborhood. is it cultural? do i identify with brasilians more than i identify with the people on my street? maybe. can i relate 2 the poverty in brasil? absolutely not. can i relate 2 the hanging out on the corner because u have no other place 2 go? absolutely not.

    i’m not a favela visitor. i’ve been only once, and that was 2 do some photography work, talk 2 some people… i’m not the kind who goes 2 baile funk parties when im there. but people in this country are offered chances, opportunites, hell, SERVICES that just arent available in brasil. and 2 have someone walk up 2 u when u’re drinking a bottle of water, and they are thirsty, and they know u want your water… hell, it’s 99 degrees outside, and this person WHO HAS NOTHING, is thirsty too. they’ve come up 2 me & just said, will u just POUR SOME IN MY MOUTH?

    THAT is not the same thing as people hanging on the corner. that is inherently different than some of those who can afford 2 get on the subway. i’m not saying that one is better or worse than the other, just different. i’m guilty of ignoring what is directly in front of me, and looking all the way toward Brasil 2 offer help. i wish it werent true, but now u’ve put it in my face, so i cant ignore it anymore.


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