Things that Frost My Shorts – Owning Class Arrogance Edition

I cannot begin to say how wrong this is. A fake slum. For tourists. In South Africa.

I did not grow up in poverty. My parents did. They worked every damn day of their life to make sure their children would not go through what they did. I visited grandparents, who were living a lot better because my parents sent them money. I remember the lectures from my mother, not about being “grateful”. Not about how some deity blessed us so we didn’t live that way. The lectures were about hard work, and a society that made it possible to succeed. And that society did not view all people that way. Not all people had the luck or freedom to be able to work hard and live in comfort. And that it was the responsibility of all people who benefited from society to help others who didn’t.

But I digress. The main point was that my mother, when she could, wanted nicer things that she had as a child, or things period that she didn’t have as a child. Isis’ poignant story about her and her brother’s attitude towards food (must read, really, you must read this) rang true with me.  I did not live that, but that my mother did. I can just hear my mother’s scorn for a tourist slum.

What do children who visit this place learn? That poverty is fun? That food is always available, as is wifi? They do not see that poverty is a scary mix of violence and fear and illness and hunger. I do not care if it gives people jobs (as one commentator at Gizmodo said). I do not care if this is “just another theme park”.  It’s not. It trivializes real problems that real people have.

I leave you with this image.

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