Khia On The Case
Khia Jackson is principal officer and creative lead for the J+AM Group, an Atlanta-based, multi-disciplinary design firm which, on its website, proclaims that its "members are creative both in and out of the office." Jackson's out-of-the-office creavity includes editorial cartooning. She has a knack for imagining visual ways to comment on contemporary issues.
The latest illustration in the "Khia on the Case" editorial series was provoked by her concerns about situations surrounding the 2016 Olympics in Rio, such as the treatment of the people in the favelas. She provided the following explanation for her imagery.
Welcome To Hell
So many people have rooted for Rio to succeed. It was the Little Engine That Could among the large, corporate-backed powerhouse Western European and North American nations and China with its huge, socialist, market economy.
However Brazil was fraught with its own problems that seem exacerbated by the politics surrounding the Olympics. Gone is Brazil’s image as one of the sexiest countries on the planet. In the wake of the Olympic Games we are left of an image of Brazil as embattled by crime, racism poverty and political instability
In the run up to the Olympics, Brazil was faced with creating a paradise for world to see that defied its reality of a city ridden with massive poverty and crime. So Brazil decided to cover those issues up, heaping further abuse on its citizens and city workers.
From the year 2009 until the opening of the games, 77,000 people were forcibly removed from homes that the Brazilian government deemed too unsightly for the world to see. There are images on the net of Brazilian citizens with bloody gashes in their head as they had been violently pushed out of their homes by the police. For a favela (ghetto) called Maré that could not be salvaged, a huge concrete wall was built to seal the community off from public view. The official reason given by the government was that they were protecting the citizens from “noise pollution." Goverment officials also brought in 80,000 additional personnel to temporarily suppress the crime in Rio.
The zika virus, the inhumane plight of sex workers, the sewage tainted Guanabara Bay and even the vision of human body parts washing up on the famed Copa Cabana beach created a media nightmare for Brazil. The five companies secured for construction of 10 billion dollars in contracts were all being investigated for price fixing and corruption. Construction workers were rescued from inhumane living condition provided by construction companies. They were living in sewage-infested land with no drinking water, no showers and no flushing toilets.
In June of this year, the governor declared Rio was in a financial crisis, leaving the city with no money to properly pay its workers. The police adopted the phrase “Welcome to Hell” as a warning to foreigners that they had not been adequately paid and would be unable to protect them.
With the mounting problems, many athletes opted to skip the historic competition altogether. Added to all of these overwhelming problems were the issues surrounding Dilma Rousseff, the democratically appointed Brazilian president, who faced (and continues to fight) a political coup to oust her from her position.
In my piece, ‘Welcome to Hell," I borrowed the drawing style of Duolingo (a popular language app) to show the disparity between the actual living conditions of many Brazilians and the the glossy sheen that government officials applied in order to paint the city in a different picture to the serious detriment of its people. The idea is that there is the real Rio and the air-brushed, Olympic view of Rio, with it’s fresh patina and paler skin splashed all over the tv screens. Meanwhile the people of Brazil remain in the background, doing their best to cope with their government’s decisions.