Flint is a city in Michigan with a population of 99,000. 57% of the population is black and the amount of residents below the poverty line is 42%. These numbers have led to great controversy – “Was Flint neglected because its population is made up of mainly blacks and 42% of the people are poor?”
Back in 2001, Flint River Assessment enlightened the people with information concerning the river’s conditions. They bluntly said the conditions of the river were low. The river had “fecal coliform bacteria, oils, low dissolved oxygen, plant nutrients, and toxic substances,” yet back in 2014, the city decided to change the city water source to this toxic river.
“Why,” you ask? Because the city wanted to be cheap.
One company provided safe, efficient water from the Detroit River and Lake Huron, while the other was in the process of building pipe lines to connect Lake Huron to Flint. So as a temporary fix, the city chose to compromise their civilian’s well-being to save a couple bucks.
But the problems didn’t stop there.
You remember some of the germs I mentioned earlier that were in this toxic river? Well one of the bacteria, coliform, is known to cause organisms such as E. coli. But wait. They had another brilliant idea. Instead of simply switching the water source from the river, they decided to be cheap again and use chlorine to sanitize the water supply.
In February of 2015 a Flint resident contacted the EPA, informing them on the high levels of lead within their home’s water. A few weeks after this, test results showed that Flint water without corrosion was slightly above the hazardous waste level.
Here’s where the idea of racism comes into effect:
The issues of racism, classism, and injustice have enraged students. Had it been some other city with riches, a thing like this would have never happened. This still leaves us to wonder, “Was this a racial issue?”
Students from a university were forced to confront the reality of race and power. “I don’t want to see it as a black or white issue,” said a student named Al. “But living in Flint has made me more conscious of this. I am white, but during this crisis I was black. I was ignored by the governor because I didn’t count.” “Nah,” said another student. “You can leave Flint, and you’re white again. This is about race, about being black and invisible.”
But wait, I’m not going to stop there!
Michigan’s attorney general has filed criminal claims against six state employees regarding the lead poisoning. Eighteen new criminal charges have been placed on the six employees. Three with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and three with the Department of Environmental Quality. The current and former DEQ officials were also charged with misconduct, conspiracy to tamper, and willful neglect of duty. There’s also more charges being speculated.
But hey, look on the bright side. The black community is finally getting justice. They just had to get lead poisoning to do so.