By Korinne Nickings | Terra 360 — Global Exchange
My trip to Brazil this year reinforced a lot of my fears about the world. Being in a place where I could spend little to no American money and get the best of goods and services, and trying new extraordinary foods really dawned on me the huge difference in capital between the north and south of the globe.
Working as an amateur reporter as part of the community journalism program with Peninsula 360 Press; high school friend Ofelia Bello, and I were treated with reverence as foreigners, getting gifts, desserts, and help from the kindest locals I’ve ever met.
But the immense disparities that we were situated in were exigent. Our hotel had a top-notch biometric, 2-door security system, covered in security cameras. It protects you from the ghetto that surrounds it, but doesn’t grant you entry inside the actual hotel until you are recognized or pass security measures.
One night, after a highly unpleasant dinner in a clearly upper-class area of São Paulo (evident by the extravagant housing, and pricey shopping district), we attempted access to a bougie rooftop lounge. There were foreign cars parked on the sidewalk, people dressed for an un-present red carpet, and everyone there stared at us like we couldn’t belong. The model-like women in front of us turned around and eye-balled us from toe to head disgustedly as we watched them. They fake smiled when they met our gazes. People had to be on a list to get in, so we gave up and caught an Uber 15 minutes away to our hotel, where we drove past hoards of cracked out people of color filling the streets like there was a midnight parade happening.
We were safe, never attacked, or threatened, that particular night.
I understood then why these elections are consequential. Seeing, meeting, and interacting with the local Lula fans was enlightening. It reminded me of hope, change, and passion. People wear stickers, dance, smile, love, chant, sing, live for transformation because of Bolsonaro’s oppressive air. We interviewed a handful of people throughout the backstreets of Avenida Paulista and most of them mentioned how scary it is to display Lula pride because of police violence. The police drove nearby a voting center where we conducted a few interviews, and people who were selling Lula gear on the corner a few blocks away hastily ripped all of their merch down. It gave Ofelia and I discomfort.
So many people crave change that you’d think it would come, but Brazil will undergo round 2 of elections in 4 days. All I can do is have optimism that people will show up twice as much as they did when I was there, so they can elect a President who won’t let the cracks grow so deep. Someone who appears to care about ALL kinds of people, and the condition of our planet. Someone like Lula.
I would travel the world experiencing other ways of life and reporting on the realities of being Afrolatina in the world. Other views of me are fascinating and sometimes hard to confront. The most fulfillment will come from proving people wrong and opening their minds to millions of possibilities. I thank Global Exchange and Peninsula 360 Press for the opportunity to go there and get the story from the people as they live it. This work is incredibly important because the world needs perspective and understanding. Let’s give it something to listen to.