UPDATE: Visit Maryland has now removed the video from YouTube. Twitter reports that it is also gone from Baltimore’s Penn Station. @visitmaryland is so far quiet on the subject.
Visit Maryland has air-brushed African Americans out of Baltimore. If the above official tourism promotion video, playing on an endless loop in Baltimore’s Penn Station, is to be believed, more giraffes live in Baltimore than African Americans.
Black people should not be deemed too scary to feature in videos touting any part of Maryland. Nevertheless, their absence is especially glaring–and I imagine galling–in a video about majority-black Baltimore City.
Del. Jeff Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery) noticed the video during a visit to Charm City and has written the Commerce Secretary to demand its removal from public circulation:
Beyond the blatant racism, the video is also economically foolish. African Americans have a lot of tourism dollars to spend. As Del. Waldstreicher points out, there is enormous cultural and historical richness in Baltimore black history. Don’t we want African-American tourists to think of Baltimore as a potential destination?
Whitewashing Baltimore is not going to make Baltimore more appealing or its well-known problems go away.