As of today, December 9th, Flint, Michigan now has a clean water source and the water infrastructure is being replaced. However, this is a multi-year process so Flint’s residents must continue to rely on bottled water during construction. Except, Flint’s Mayor, Karen Weaver, just issued a statement that water distribution sites could close next month.
Today is December 9, 2017 and resident homes, businesses, and city buildings in parts of Flint, Michigan still do not have potable tap water. To date, fifteen public officials have been charged with felonies including, involuntary manslaughter, misconduct in office, tampering with evidence, violating Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act, willful neglect of duty, conspiracy to commit false pretenses, felony false pretenses, obstruction of justice, lying to a Peace Officer, and misconduct in office. Flint has spent $23 million+ on legal fees. The EPA just published its official report after 18 months of investigation. And, Lifetime, in true Lifetime fashion, produced a completely unnecessary, completely underdone film. 1,322+ days of contaminated water later, Flint’s residents are unequivocally sure of two things;
- It is easy to harm Flint.
2. More government dollars have gone to identifying culpability than restoring clean water or providing social services to mitigate the collateral damage resulting from two years of poisoning.
So, in the midst of these revelations, what exactly does justice look like for Flint’s residents? Is it a check for each resident? Is it the indictment of all of these public officials? Is it a confession of wrongdoing?
Well yes, obviously.
Money always cushions the sting of injustice because being alive and oppressed is expensive. It costs a king’s fortune to be marginalized. But, the American government can easily foot that bill. There is satisfaction when someone faces consequences for their transgressions. There is vindication and relief when something is taken away from the people who took everything from you. But, neither emotion recompenses the time and energy spent fighting or being angry. Apologies are a nice gesture when they are sincere and backed with behavioral changes, but they rarely are in government. Environmental racism is not new. It’s an American epidemic. Flint is not only community suffering from the affects of contaminated water or surging water rates.
I’m not from Flint. I can speculate but I cannot speak on the behalf of anyone in that community. I can only elevate the voices that do and those voices; nurses, activists, journalists, and regular citizens, tell horrifying stories that lead to one conclusion:
The decision to switch water sources is a multi-generation issue for a community that was in jeopardy long before this assault.
True justice is the restoration of trust between constituents and public officials. ~ Cory Lancaster
The government isn’t doing it’s job in Flint. Flint’s citizens were, and still are, paying for services that aren’t being rendered. The entire activist community is putting in hours towards the unpaid internship that is reforming Flint. Constituents across America, and abroad, are donating services and supplies that should be funded by taxes. Women are miscarrying at alarmingly high rates, birthing children with deficiencies, or unable to become pregnant due to the chemicals in the water. The rashes, hair loss, gums decaying and teeth falling out is still happening. Flint’s residents have given up on their government because the government has clearly given up on them a long time ago.
So, justice is more than clean water, clean pipes, and social services. Justice is restoring trust in this community. This can only happen when we the people become the leaders we expect to see in government. It’s easier to become the person in charge than to charge, or change, the people who hurt us with no moral conflict.