The Flint Water Crisis: Betrayal and Racism

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Lead can harm a child’s brain, kidneys and other organs. High levels in the blood can cause coma, convulsions and death. Lower levels can reduce intelligence, impair hearing and behavior and cause other problems.” It is fair to assume that many children (and those to be born) will suffer cognitive impairment due to the lead poisoning in the water supply in Flint, Michigan.

This problem was not accidental. It is a pattern of structural and political segregation that has been in place in the United States. This is particularly stark in the wake of a governor bent on cutting taxes and saving money for political expediency and the state’s history of polluting the air quality and dumping waste in rivers.

The problem in Flint, Michigan tells of systemic racism and segregation that many think no longer exists. Unfortunately, environmental segregation is only part of the problem the Flint crisis has brought to the conscience of American people and into political discourse. There is still intractable zoning process in the country that has not helped as “white flight” to the suburbs marginalized schools, roads, housing and transportation in U.S. inner cities. These conditions have remained unsolved even as many complain of low academic performance and poor health outcomes among minorities.

One can imagine what the outcomes will be for the children of Flint. Their drinking water has poisoned them, all to save money and reward the rich. Will there be a change in environmental policy? If so, will the change benefit everyone and not just a few?

Racism remains, even though we like to think its a post-racial society. In the case of Flint, Michigan, one can only hope the state will take care of all its citizens and not only a few.

Your thought.


Submitted by Winnie Eke

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