"The Virgil": What the Microsoft ‘Avoid the Ghetto’ App Must be Named

 This way a good soul never passes. 
The Inferno, Canto III: Virgil to Dante at The Gate of Hell

“The Virgil”: The only logical name for Microsoft’s “avoid the ghetto” app

Every city with a sizable Black population has one. Out of politeness, we’ve been trained to call it “the bad part of town,” or we implore friends who must drive through this area to “lock their doors and, even if you hit someone, don’t stop driving.”

It has many synonyms (ghetto, inner-city or high-crime area, economically disadvantaged or blighted community, etc.), but the one correlation whether you are in Dallas or Houston, Texas, Baltimore, Md., Birmingham, Al., Cleveland, Ohio, or Seattle, Washington, these “bad part of town” with few businesses is an extension of the Black phenotype.

What else can explain the ostensibly innate ability that Black people seem to possess – regardless of the region of the country – to force the closing of businesses, malls, and a swift property depreciation when their numbers overwhelm a city? High Black crime rates force the businesses to close, and high Black crime rates are still found in these same cities once the businesses have fled.

Around major metropolitan areas like Milwaukee, Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Charlotte, rests isolated pockets where the Visible Black Hand of economics has downgraded a once thriving business community or subdivision into a “ghetto.” Courtesy of Black people.

For this reason, Microsoft has stepped forward and offered a savvy solution for those hoping to drive around and avoid these unpleasant reminders of racially unmentionable realities:

Want to avoid the ghetto? There’s an app for that. 


A Smartphone app to help people avoid unsafe neighborhoods has been accused of discrimination.

The application, which is being developed by Microsoft, has already been nicknamed the ‘Avoid The Ghetto’ app.

But critics fears the app could damage local economies and steer tourists away from historically significant neighbourhoods- just because they have a high crime rate. 

Sarah E. Chinn, author of ‘Technology and the Logic of American Racism,’ told AOL the app is ‘pretty appalling.’ 

‘Of course, an application like this defines crime pretty narrowly, since all crimes happen in all kinds of neighborhoods.’

‘I can’t imagine that there aren’t perpetrators of domestic violence, petty and insignificant drug possession, fraud, theft, and rape in every area.’ 

Opponents fear the data-operated app could damage minority communities and hinder economic development in the areas most in need of it.

Pretty appalling? What’s appalling is the type of behavior that is found in predominately Black neighborhoods in Portland, Oregon; in Kansas City, Kansas; in St. Louis, Missouri, etc. Yes, crime is found everywhere, but intense levels of violent crime, rape, theft, murder, assault, etc., are prevalent in heavily Black areas. 
And outside of Title Loans stores, liquor stores, Headstart offices, beauty parlors, and a fast food chain, what type of economic hit will these “ghetto” areas actually incur? And a loss of tourism dollars? What, so people can see where the Wal-Mart or Sears used to be before the Black Undertow forced its closing? Outside of an underage kid trying to score a fake ID from some Rastafarian, what type of tourism could one hope to find in the ghetto?

The patent filed by Microsoft patent simply reads this way:

According to the patent filing, the technology will help a user avoid passing through an “unsafe neighborhood or being in an open area that is subject to harsh temperatures.”

What a wonderful service! Using algorithms to compute readily available neighborhood crime statistics for real-time data mapping will undoubtedly save the lives of countless people.

But what to call this “avoid the ghetto” app? Mencken has put forth the ultimate name for an app that would guide one away from a “bad” area; Virgil, the noble Roman poet who was Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory in The Divine Comedy.

So anyone reading this at a creative agency that can pitch names to Microsoft, take note: Virgil is the perfect name for this app. For those brave souls foolish enough to dare venture into areas which Virgil would instruct against, this electronic guide would assist in helping you navigate through neighborhoods that the imaginative Dante would be hard-pressed to dismiss as another journey into hell.

Virgil: A Guide from the Damned. Okay, so that slogan probably wouldn’t fly, but Microsoft should pounce on the name.

 This way a good soul never passes.

And with the Virgil Microsoft App for your GPS, iPhone, or smartphone, neither will you. Thanks to the guide that steers you clear of the ghetto. Or, for those brave souls daring to see the ghetto Black people he advises you avoids you, the Virgil App will command thee (prior to entry) “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here…”

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