Knowledge is power.
Social Justice Tours uses tours as a medium to dig beneath the surface of what New Yorkers regularly see. We aim to engage New Yorkers in critical dialogue about the past, present and future of our city from the perspective of marginalized populations. The ultimate aim is to assist in movement building; that is to spread information, expose injustice and highlight inequality in a digestible, understandable way to encourage thought and inspire action.
In some ways, the beginnings of Social Justice Tours started in 2010, when founder Dan Kaminsky was living and working in Post-Katrina New Orleans. The organization he worked with gave tours of the Levees highlighting systemic injustice and the ways in which Katrina was a human and justice-related disaster more than a natural one.
Five years later he had a job as a tour guide on the double decker buses (while also organizing to create a workers' union). As a guide, any time he mentioned anything social justice-related, he was met largely with blank stares by tourists. While he was disillusioned with his bus audience, he very much saw the power in using tours as a medium to create dialogue, ask hard questions and spread information on histories of justice and equity that many people were not seeing in their experience of these areas.
After getting fired for organizing a union, he decided to start giving a gentrification tour, largely as a side project to plug into the conversation. The goal of this tour was to spread information amongst locals and residents who may be aware of the changes in the neighborhood, but unaware of the backstory, the policies that led to those changes and how to work to fight against them. In this way, the Gentrification in Williamsburg tour was created, ideally, as a movement building tool.
Around this time, Trump began to rise and Dan decided to add a second tour, the Trump Tour, to connect national events with local ones. From there, the demand really began to take off. He started connecting with many other guides whose stories were those of the neighborhoods, highlighting the need for tour building to be centered around neighborhood issues.
This will be the third season of Social Justice Tours and we hope to expand even further!