Stephanie Reist is pursuing both a Masters in Public Policy and a PhD in Latin American Studies at Duke University. Her research looks at center-periphery dynamics, urban belonging and citizenship, and Black cultural production in Rio's Baixada Fluminense Suburbs.
Brazilian and US police have much in common. Both are waging an increasingly militarized War on Drugs that, despite similar levels of drug use across races, largely imprisons and kills young black men. And in both countries, a culture of police impunity has led to high levels of distrust between police and predominately black communities. A recent Human Rights Watch report on Rio, "Good Cops Are Afraid," found that of the 3,441 police killings recorded between 2010 to 2015, the Attorney General only filed charges in 15 cases. Similarly, since 2005 and as of January 2016, only 13 officers in the US have been convicted of murder or manslaughter in on duty shootings.
Center-periphery dynamics characterize not only Rio’s relationship with its favelas, but also the city’s relationship with the surrounding metropolitan area. Niterói, the city across the Guanabara Bay, is known by some tourists for its numerous buildings designed by famed architect Oscar Nieyemer. However, other cities in Greater Rio like Duque de Caxias, Magé, and Belford Roxo are stigmatized in much the same way as Rio’s favelas: tourists are encouraged to avoid them and some cariocas scoff at the idea of living or even venturing farther north than Maracanã stadium.