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87 4 VIOLENT POLICING AND DISPOSING OF URBAN LANDSCAPES eu bato contra o muro duro esfolo minhas mãos no muro tento de longe o salto e pulo dou nas paredes do muro duro não desisto de forçá-lo hei de encontrar um furo por onde ultrapassá-lo i beat against the wall hard i scrape my hands on the wall i try to jump over it from far away i bang against the wall hard i don’t give up trying to force it i must find a hole to get through it Oliveira Silveira,“o muro” (the wall) i have been locked by the lawless. Handcuffed by the haters. Gagged by the greedy. And, if I know anything at all, it’s that a wall is just a wall and nothing more at all. It can be broken down. Assata Shakur, excerpt from “Affirmation,” 1987 88 VIOLENT POLICING AND DISPOSING OF URBAN LANDSCAPES The Wall “Omuro,”a1982poembyAfro-Brazilianpoet-activistOliveiraSilveira, embodies various meanings for the black majority in Brazil, who confront multiple social and economic barriers to their survival and advancement . The term muro may allude to the thick glass ceiling in the job market, university entrance exams, police barricades, gated communities ,oreventheguardwiththemetaldetectoratthebank.Thewall isametaphorforunderstandingthegenderedracialandclassinequality that governs Brazilian cities—for example, the fact that black women represent the largest segment of unemployed workers (Rezende and Lima2004;Wilding2012).Findingaholeinthewall,orevenattempting to climb over it, becomes a lifelong struggle for black people and, even more so, for poor black women. Attempting to break down the wall is potentially dangerous and likely to lead to injury or even death. In Gamboa de Baixo and throughout the city of Salvador, actual concrete walls have come to signify racial boundaries, legitimate and illegitimate ownership, and segregation, and Contorno Avenue is the most important wall structure in the spatial, social, and political formation of the Gamboa de Baixo community. Since the street’s construction , walls have evinced exclusion as much as they have suggested inclusion, resulting in the “production of included and excluded bodies ” (Razack 2002, 10). Conflicts surrounding the recent construction ofOMoradadosCardeais(TheHouseoftheCardinals),athirty-sevenstory luxury apartment complex, and current challenges to maintaining positive neighborhood relations provide glaring examples of the social, physical, and economic segregation between rich and poor and black and white residential communities in Brazilian cities. A glimpse into the daily lives of Gamboa de Baixo residents illustrates some of the social meanings of walls, specifically as they relate to the unique political dynamics of urban redevelopment in Salvador’s city center. These conflicts must be understood within the context of current urban renewal practices, which many social movement activists argue privilegecoastalandverticalconstruction(high-rises)forwhitemiddleand upper-class Bahians. Although blacks have composed the majority of the coastal population since the slavery period, critics of urban developmentpoliciesmaintainthat “thecoastwillbeforthosewhocanafford it” (A Tarde, March 15, 2007), meaning those who are rich and white. VIOLENT POLICING AND DISPOSING OF URBAN LANDSCAPES 89 Income in Brazil is measured by monthly minimum wage. The current minimum wage is R$678 per month, which is the equivalent of US$317. Sixty-one percent of families in gated communities earn R$12,440 per month (US$6900), or about twenty times the minimum monthlywage.Abouthalfoffamilies in poor neighborhoods like Gamboa earn the minimum wage of R$678 per month or less, placing them below the poverty level (A Tarde, March 15, 2007). According to Kia Lilly Caldwell, black women, especially those living in the poorest urban neighborhoods, traditionally have been consigned to a “de facto status of non-citizens,” occupying not only the spatial margins of cities but also the socioeconomic margins as the poorest of Brazil’s poor (2007, 135). Walls, whether physical or symbolic, push women and blacks to the margins and create disposable subjects. Walls are the first visible sign of the disposal of black coastal neighborhoods during urban redevelopment . As Katherine McKittrick and Clyde Woods state, “Black and poor subjects are disposable precisely because they cannot easily move or escape” (2007, 3). Among Bahia’s white elite, urban development also encourages self-segregation behind the physical walls that surround luxury condominiums. The act of policing is central to constructing, maintaining, and disposing of black marginalized landscapes and the people who occupy them (Fikes 2009). Black feminist theorist Patricia Hill Collins points out that blacks’ heightened “visibility can bring increased surveillance ” (1998, 51). The increased visibility of Gamboa de Baixo as a target of urban removal and then as a politically organized neighborhood fighting expulsion...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780816687978
Related ISBN
9780816683246
MARC Record
OCLC
862745988
Pages
224
Launched on MUSE
2013-11-28
Language
English
Open Access
No
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