The Olympics and Rio's Black Poor

the real rioA Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford

The gentry-pursued Black and poor population of Chicago got a reprieve from the Olympic committee last week. Now it's Rio de Janeiro's turn to invent clever ways to clear out the shantytowns so the games may begin without the distractions of poverty. Walls are already going up around the favelas, to keep the dark hordes from spoiling the sports.
The Olympics and Rio's Black Poor
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
The city recently resorted to building walls around the shantytowns.”
For the poor, the Olympics is like Russian roulette. If your city is chosen to host the games, it's time for you to start looking for somewhere else to live. The people of Chicago dodged that bullet, last week, and now the poor residents of Rio de Janeiro have until 2016 to figure out how they will survive the world's biggest traveling urban redevelopment machine, posing as an athletic event.
Losing the Olympics was a victory for the plurality of Chicagoans who didn't want the honor, anyway. Not that the Windy City ever stood a chance. If American corporate media cared anything about elementary journalism, they would have discovered that Chicago was way down the Olympic delegates' list of places to go. If the truth be known, ever since 9/11, the United States has had a reputation of not being very hospitable to foreigners.
Gentrification is moving along at a steady clip in Chicago, without the boost of Olympic madness. Back in 1996, Atlanta wound up showing its backside to the nation and the world, arresting 9,000 homeless residents and displacing as many as 30,000 poor people, many of whom had to leave the city entirely. Now Atlanta's Black elite has taken a look around and discovered that the shrinking African American base of population might not be sufficient to keep a Black mayor in office. Gentrification and Black power don't mix.
There's nothing Rio's elite would like better than to send the favela residents someplace far, far away.”
Now the poor people's pushout machine is bound for South America, which has never had an Olympic experience. When Brazil got thumbs up this time around, there was dancing in the streets of Rio – but that's nothing new. Much of Rio de Janeiro is so desperately poor, they've got to dance to keep from crying. As many as two million people, one-third of the population, live in the hillside shantytowns called favelas, places the police treat like enemy territory and where residents build houses with cement walls six inches thick to stop bullets. There's nothing Rio's elite would like better than to send the favela residents someplace far, far away, and the powers-that-be can be counted on to undertake Olympian efforts towards wholesale favela-removal between now and 2016. In fact, 2016 is two years too late, since Rio is hosting the World Cup soccer games in 2014. So the clock is ticking on the city's poor.
The war against the heavily Black favelas has always been ugly. The city recently resorted to building walls around the shantytowns. Ostensibly, the walls are designed to protect the tropical forest, which is indeed endangered by all those poor people spilling up the sides of the mountains overlooking the city and the sea. But everyone knows the walls' real purpose is to fence the poor in. Some critics are comparing the favela walls to the walls Israel has built to confine the Palestinians.
The Olympics are advertised as agents for peace, understanding and human fellowship. In the real world, the games are occasions for world-class real estate deals and expulsion of the poor and powerless.
For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected]


Yes. My first thought was, "oh the poor poor" if the Olympics

are coming, and that the poor of Chicago got a delay....

I live in NYC and have watched the rents and renovation and removals of neighborhoods for years. I am here as long as I can...
Many New Yorkers were scared when there was talk of the olympics coming to NYC. There's a growing movement to fight back in re housing, in the various ways. ACORN scared the establishment.
There's Picture the Homeless group in NYC, too. And the WBAI radio show, "Housing Notebook" Shows are archived, free for
90 days. Note: I support the "undo the coup" movement to undo the coup at Pacifica Radio Network and specifically, my station, WBAI.

See The home page has a link to "latest news".
All things are connected.

As Glen Ford said in a talk at a joint meeting of Harlem Tenants Council (Nellie Hester Bailey) and Take Back WBAI in July, 2009
(see for video of it),
"The only thing more powerful than organized money is organized people.". ( was begun during the first coup at
WBAI 9 years ago and is back "in current action" since spring.
Both and are produced by
Don DeBar, one of the "fired and banned" from WBAI, NYC.

WBAI and sports chicanery

"NYCartist" is either blinded by white guilt or just misinformed about what she calls a "coup." WBAI was being driven into bankruptcy by the cronyism and plunder of a group of ruffians who ran the station like it was their personal property, and who were more interested in maintaining control than producing good programming or being financially responsible. The new regime is supported by a majority of listeners and a majority of programmers. Unlike the coup of 2000, this take-over has been good for the station. The last fundraising marathon was the most successful in years. Please visit
Re. The Olympics. I love sports-- both as a spectator and as a participant; I am sick of seeing professional sports intrude on people’s lives. Rutgers University expanded their football program at the expense of many women’s sports programs that were dropped; the new Yankee Stadium is an unnecessary abomination that has stolen park ground and recreational facilities from the residents of the Bronx; The World Cup and The Olympics would appeal to me if it weren’t for the costs to the cities and the citizens that host them.  I agree that Chicago’s gain is Rio’s loss.
The Olympics, like World Fairs, is a racket.

Afro-Brazilians Deserve Human Rights & Reparations

Like all slave descendants in the West, Afro-Brazilians will only rise when we establish our Human Rights inside the realm of international law and secure massive Reparations for all the damages inflicted on us for centuries by oppressive governments. Reparations means Restoration. Today in 2009 these wicked governments, especially the United States Of America, continue to impose ethnocide and forced assimilation on Afrodescendants in blatant violation of U.N. Covenants. We cordially invite Mr. Glen Ford to interview the first President of our Afrodescendant Government, Ajani Mukarram, on our quest for liberation.
Malik Al-Arkam