A video of a white woman's experience at a "conscious" community in Guatemala has sparked backlash on social media with users accusing white Americans of "colonizing" and "gentrifying a third-world country and exploiting its inhabitants.
The video, shared originally by TikTok user @michellerusk_, shows glimpses of the her life in a conscious community in the Guatemalan mountains called Tribal Village. Rusk is a freelance cosmetologist who graduated from Arizona State University, according to her LinkedIn profile.
The clip shows a variety of cultural activities that take place at the "eco-village." In the video, Rusk shows off the amazing scenery, including a sacred lake and volcanoes, that surround the community in addition to other shots of community members working, partying, singing, painting, "connect" with each other and even being "fed healthy meals" by locals.
In another video, Rusk describes herself as an event co-ordinator at the community and included footage of members performing a variety of cultural activities, including collaborative art, fire ceremonies, aerial yoga, playing musical instruments, meditation, dance, flow arts, workshops and tea socials.
The community describes itself as a "consciously evolving ecovillage and empowerment center in Lake Atitlan, co-creating a healthy world of abundance in symbiosis with Mother Earth." According to its website, it is also running fundraising campaigns to acquire additional land around the lake to accommodate more members..
The videos instantly went viral on Twitter, garnering more than 5 million views and racked up thousands of comments with users criticizing Rusk and white people in general for exploiting and gentrifyingGuatemala while its indigenous inhabitants are fleeing by the numbers due to poverty.
"A bunch of rich (white majority) people going to a foreign place and exploiting people because the usd is much much stronger than the local currency. So they live off taking photos of themselves and exploiting people. They also tend to buy up property that locals no longer can. This is ridiculous," wrote one user.
"White folks just can't help but run to other countries to disrupt, take from the land, it's people & it's culture. Sounds so familiar. Stay here in the US & dismantle white supremacy. Stop with the performative activism & do the work to dismantle a system you benefit from," commented another.
"There'a many like her and this community in every tropical country. What's disgusting is that Guatemalans are literally dying trying to reach the US and she is just posted up here with zero issues," opined yet another.
Here are some of the other reactions: