April 24th, 2017 marked the third year that residents in Flint, Michigan have been without clean water. What many call genocide has proven to be yet another case of Black people’s welfare being systematically ignored and the neglect turned into full-blown abuse. The majority has always found ways to marginalize groups throughout history using legalized loopholes to continue oppressing those too poor, tired or uneducated to fight. Flint is a perfect example of environment racism, where a predominately Black (nearly 83%) and poor community faces a health crisis due to negligence and budget cuts all too familiar in urban areas. Misinformation continued the denial of lead poisoning levels and how toxic the water really is in Flint despite cases of long-term effects on its residents hindering remedies to the ongoing crisis. With a breakout of Legionnaires disease which can lead to pneumonia (lung infection) and the mental/physical effects of lead water poisoning (irreversible damage in child development including brain damage), residents are left trapped without clean water, restitution and now are even asked to pay pending water bills or face foreclosure.
Recently the head of Michigan’s health department, Nick Lyon, has been charged with involuntary manslaughter along with four other officials so far amounting to 15 officials in total. Failure to right the wrongs and actively obstructing justice couldn’t possibly be ignored any longer when u place the bottom dollar before human lives. To save money, people in charge have put its residents in grave danger by switching water sources which lead to the disgustingly damaged pipes despite complaints from experts, scientists and doctors. The denial was real. One official even resigned after saying the Flint water crisis was caused by “N*ggers Not Paying Their Water Bill”. But we have seen these incidents countless times from Katrina to the Dakota Access Pipeline leaks in which the government failed the people during environmental disasters due to political chess or financially motivated counteractions. These failures of emergency response usually center around Black people or people of color especially in areas below the poverty line. This country has a history in various communities of color of where hazardous waste is dumped or left sitting adjacent to where kids play and freshwater sources.
Politicians have shown their greed along with what corporations and billionaires lace their pockets to support environmental destruction in our lawmaking in favor of stockholders and revenue. Even our Commander-in-Chief has stake in these companies like Energy Transfer Partners that are willing to harm and displace the locals to satisfy investors. While celebrities and the like have pitched in to help Flint’s citizens during this crisis, water bottles only go so far when a family can go through over 150 bottles in a single day for cooking and bathing. A court agreement was reached to where 18,000 water pipes would be replaced by 2020 but how can a family or FAMILIES get by during that waiting period? Many can’t afford to move, houses are unsellable in these conditions and the donations aren’t that overwhelming especially when coverage isn’t placed as high priority. It is dependent on us the people to get the word out, keep our people in Flint in our minds and hearts and do what we can to help stop this genocide. We can’t sit by and allow the rich to bankrupt what little resources we have as the world remains quiet to our struggle. We need to address environmental racism more.