I’m not sure which is worse – the tour operator perpetuating to be a “real” Bronx Tour company and profiting like any other poverty pimp on the economically disadvantaged or the tourists who shell out $45 dollars to get a taste of an “authentic New York City ghetto”.
Over this past weekend, The New York Post (I promise I do NOT read this “newspaper”) published an article on Real Bronx Tours which has apparently been bringing mostly Australian and European tourists to the Bronx so that they can get a taste of a “real” New York City ghetto. The Post goes on to say that they promise walks through “Pickpocket Park” and even see folks lining up at food pantries. What the fuck? ! Does this individual not know that we’re actually safer than most places of its size and population across the country including Boston?!
And it’s not just me who is a little furious over this but friends, colleagues and total strangers (including NYC Mayoral Candidate Joe Lhota, the former MTA Chairman who was raised in the Bronx). Here is just a few of the comments that folks have been tweeting about this:
(Don’t forget to sign the PETITION against this tour operator!)
People are literally in DISBELIEF that this is actually a real thing, so much so that when they tweet about it they preface it with the hashtag #NotTheOnion. Then you have people like Johanna M. of the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx who has this to say when she posted the article on Facebook:
I hate New York. I think it is the biggest hellhole on earth. Entering the subways is like entering the very intestines of the Devil, and he has diarrhea But I love the Bronx. Why? Partly because it does not pretend it is anything it is not, but mostly because there are people here actually working to change things in a more grassroots manner than any other place I have known, people who throw everything to jam the gears of a machinery built to ignore the borough and its people, and when they have nothing else, they throw themselves in. And in the oddest, strangest patches, you find a beauty wilder than manicured Manhattan and planned hipster Brooklyn can ever manifest. THAT is my Bronx, so fuck you, tourists.
Now I know Johanna so for her to speak like this you really have to push her buttons and she’s definitely not alone in her sentiments.
It’s crap like this that has been going on for years why we began to take over our own story and not let others handle our narrative. If it were up to the rest of the world, we would have been written off a long time ago. It gets emotionally exhausting not only trying to deal with the realities in our borough that need to be addressed but to also have to deal with this when we can be dedicating our time and efforts to real world solutions to what does ail us. For years I’ve wanted to give the world tours of the REAL BRONX and show them that we are not what the media portrays us to be. It is one of the very reasons why I began welcome2melrose.com and subsequently welcome2thebronx.com – because I was sick and tired of the abysmal portrayal of our borough. If you want to provide tours on our borough then why not tell the tale of our resilience and how we turned around the Bronx from the decay that our own politicians left us to rot in? How the Bronx is home to the ONLY “green” neighborhood in all of New York State?
There are over 1 million tales to tell on the Bronx and what Real Bronx Tours does is not one of them.