Favelas Demand Olympic Attention

Favelas Demand Olympic Attention

The displacement and mistreatment of poor communities characterize the dark side of the Olympic games.
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There are two types of development in Rio that characterize two vastly different lives. You can see the contrast on google maps. There's the organized grids that line the coast. Then there's the favelas. Growing out of the hills of Rio, these favelas are homes that were built by people who couldn't afford the developed housing. Brazil has one of the largest national income inequality gaps and it is evident in the communities of Rio. Many of these favelas were founded by freed slaves. The slave trade to Brazil used to be eleven times greater than the United States. Just Rio alone had a greater slave population than all of the south before the United States Civil War. As Rio continued to grow, the demand for labor also brought in many workers from other regions that added to the settlements in the hills. Favelas are fully functioning cities within cities. 25% of Rio residents live in these communities. Since these favelas were not built under permits, they also have make-shift electricity, sewage, and water systems.

Favelas lack of governance leads to community led networks that tend to be especially conducive to vibrant streets filled with art and strong community networks. But many of the top dogs of Brazil see the poverty as inconvenient to development goals. Carlos Carbalhi, owner of over of 6 million square meters of land in an area known as Barra, has developed this land to the current Olympic park. The mayor of Rio has also directed tens of billions of tax funds towards this new infrastructure. His vision was for Barra and much of Rio is to have a city that is cleared of poor communities. He said in an interview with the guardian, "We think that if the standards were lowered, we would be taking away from what the city – the new city – could represent on the global scene as a city of the elite, of good taste. For this reason, it needed to be noble housing, not housing for the poor.” The infrastructure of the Olympic housing operation was meant to accentuate just that. This development will also become luxury apartments after the games. Maybe it has to do with his generous checks to the mayor's campaign or his financial investments in the game, but his goals of relocating the poor came quickly.

It began with bus routes changing. Northern Rio, where the poorer communities live, stopped having access to the iconic southern beaches. Caralhi and other wealthy elite didn't want barefoot people, poor people, hungry people from the favela slums to challenge the value of their real estate investments. People near the areas of planned developments began finding eviction notices on their doors. Relocations of favela communities happened in masses. People were moved inland far out of sight of the tourists. Many people accepted the new housing and checks from the government easily. Since the announcement of Rio hosting of the Olympic games, 200,000 people have been relocated away from their homes. This is a map of the communities that were targeted.

But not all of the communities wanted to leave so willingly. Villa Autródromo is an area that isn't in Olympic park, but is visible from the borders of it. It had 600 families that came together during the relocation and stated to the city that they did not want to move. So the city responded with force. In the United States, there has been a vehement dialogue relating to police brutality. However, the rates of death are nothing compared to Brazil. In the U.S. there is 1 death out of every 37,000 arrests, but in Brazil that number is as high as 1 death in every 23 arrests. Although many of the homes in Villa Autródromo were destroyed, people still refused to leave and are still resisting even today.

Now there are only 20 families left. For those last 20, the city finally allowed them to stay on the condition that they have their old homes rebuilt into new more aesthetically pleasing homes. Is this the real face of the legacy that the Olympics brings a nation?

The displacement and disregard of locals seems to be one that has characterized the history of the Olympics. It happened in Bejing, London, Athens, Atlanta and just about every place that has ever hosted. Concerns about negative international attention have historically caused the relocation and hiding of poorer peoples. In the book The Best Olympics Ever?, Lenskyj argues that hosting the Olympics causes privileged members of society to benefit largely and the underclass to bear a disproportionate load of the burden. They face gentrification and therefore displacement. They economically far worse off after the games than before. There have been protest groups like Canada's 'Bread not Circus' that successfully opposed the reallocation of healthcare, welfare, and environmental budgets to the Olympic games. The Impact of the Olympics on Community Coalition (IOCC) arose in Sydney to protect the poor and the environment. This has been a pattern of the Olympics because of the government commitment of money to these games while neglecting urgent social needs.

The recommendation that the IOCC protests for are calls to protect the people through accountability and transparency. They ask these three things:

1. Give the People a Choice (not just the elites)
2. Provide Information on the true costs of the bid
3. Maximize Benefits for Local Citizens

But instead these communities are met with a wall, built between them and the road from the airport.

Thank you to Vox for the amazing two part documentary covering these events. I used their on-the-grounds research and some of their photography for this article. Specific citations are linked, but check out these two videos for full coverage of the dark side of the Rio Olympics:

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Cover Image Credit: Vox

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I'm The Girl Without A 'Friend Group'

And here's why I'm OK with it

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Little things remind me all the time.

For example, I'll be sitting in the lounge with the people on my floor, just talking about how everyone's days went. Someone will turn to someone else and ask something along the lines of, "When are we going to so-and-so's place tonight?" Sometimes it'll even be, "Are you ready to go to so-and-so's place now? Okay, we'll see you later, Taylor!"

It's little things like that, little things that remind me I don't have a "friend group." And it's been like that forever. I don't have the same people to keep me company 24 hours of the day, the same people to do absolutely everything with, and the same people to cling to like glue. I don't have a whole cast of characters to entertain me and care for me and support me. Sometimes, especially when it feels obvious to me, not having a "friend group" makes me feel like a waste of space. If I don't have more friends than I can count, what's the point in trying to make friends at all?

I can tell you that there is a point. As a matter of fact, just because I don't have a close-knit clique doesn't mean I don't have any friends. The friends I have come from all different walks of life, some are from my town back home and some are from across the country. I've known some of my friends for years, and others I've only known for a few months. It doesn't really matter where they come from, though. What matters is that the friends I have all entertain me, care for me, and support me. Just because I'm not in that "friend group" with all of them together doesn't mean that we can't be friends to each other.

Still, I hate avoiding sticking myself in a box, and I'm not afraid to seek out friendships. I've noticed that a lot of the people I see who consider themselves to be in a "friend group" don't really venture outside the pack very often. I've never had a pack to venture outside of, so I don't mind reaching out to new people whenever.

I'm not going to lie, when I hear people talking about all the fun they're going to have with their "friend group" over the weekend, part of me wishes I could be included in something like that. I do sometimes want to have the personality type that allows me to mesh perfectly into a clique. I couldn't tell you what it is about me, but there is some part of me that just happens to function better one-on-one with people.

I hated it all my life up until very recently, and that's because I've finally learned that not having a "friend group" is never going to be the same as not having friends.

SEE ALSO: To The Girls Who Float Between Friend Groups

Cover Image Credit: wordpress.com

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5 Tasks The Detroit Pistons Must Do To Change The 8th-Seed Stigma

After speaking with my lawyer, blackmailing Tom Gores into selling the team is off the table.

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The Detroit Pistons returned to the NBA playoffs following a three-year hiatus. Unfortunately, the newest acquisitions to the coaching staff and roster weren't enough to change the narrative of Detroit Pistons basketball and first-round playoff sweeps. Milwaukee dominated the Pistons into a third-consecutive first-round playoff exit since 2009. What can the new titleholders of the NBA consecutive playoff game loss record do to revitalize their early 2000s reign as tenacious contenders within NBA's Eastern Conference?

1. Don't trade Andre Drummond

With the 9th pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons selected Andre Drummond from the University of Connecticut. Throughout Drummond's six years in the NBA, he continues to adapt, learn, and overcome the adversity surrounding his athleticism and play-style.

The 2018-2019 NBA season was arguably best offensive and defensive season for the 25-year-old center. Trading the three-time NBA total rebound champion that led the league in defensive win shares the past two years is not the answer to our problems.

2. DEFINITELY (and I can't stress that enough) trade Jon Leuer

Jon Leuer received a four year, 24 million dollar contract in 2016 under the management of Stan Van Gundy. As Pistons fans suffering slowly comes to an end, we still have an opportunity to trade Leuer to acquire a player or draft picks that are basically guaranteed to prove more beneficial than Leuer's inconsistent run as a backup power forward.

The Detroit Pistons trading for Thon Maker mid-season was the nail in the coffin for Leuer's run as a Piston, finishing the season averaging 3.8 points, 2.4 rebounds throughout 41 games. We're already paying Josh Smith $5.3 million to sit at home and watch us get swept in the playoffs, we don't Jon Leuer sitting on the bench doing the same thing.

3. Acquire size, strength and defense on the wings

Whether it's in the NBA Draft, a trade (hopefully involving Jon Leuer) or even a free agency signing this off-season, the Pistons desperately need to establish depth of wing players. Currently, the Pistons don't have a single small forward on the team.

The Pistons current depth chart (considering we do not re-sign any expiring contracts) is made up of a single point guard, five shooting guards, three power forwards and one center. A wise man once advised the Pistons to use their size and strength to "form a fuckin' wall." Without small forwards, forming a wall isn't an option and mismatches will be an easy exploit for larger teams.

4. Weigh every option with the 15th draft pick

Due to our past drafting history, it's crucial for the front office and coaching staff to weigh every option before we use our 15th overall draft pick. It's common knowledge Detroit has struggled when it's come to the NBA Draft. The narrative began after skipping over talents like Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh in 2003 and most recently with Donovan Mitchell, Devin Booker, and Giannis Antetokounmpo in recent drafts.

Trading the pick away, trading down in the draft, even trading up in the draft must all be considered. Shopping the draft pick should rank above using it specifically based on our shameful lack of cap space. The Pistons' picks in the 2019 NBA Draft are the only elusive assets Detroit has left until 2020.

5. Find a legal way to force Tom Gores to sell

Since blackmail is illegal, how about brainwash? Tom Gores bought the struggling team in 2011 for $325 million since then not much has changed. He's proved he isn't capable of responsibly owning the team after allowing Stan Van Gundy to take over as head coach and president of basketball operations on top of approving ridiculously priced contracts for players. I'm grateful he gave the Pistons a shot to prove themselves when rumors of relocation circled like vultures but it's time to move on.

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