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Former Flint, Michigan, Emergency Managers Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose are being charged with criminal activity for their role in perpetuating the water crisis. Earley and Ambrose are just two of several city-appointed leaders who co-signed to switch Flint’s residents to a water supply that was found to be 19 times more corrosive than the water in Detroit, causing lead to leach from the pipes. The move was made two years ago in order to cut costs. 

Without water, people cannot survive — and although the United States is considered to be a first-world nation, 2016 has revealed that our first-world status should be severely scrutinized. How can our country still consider itself to be a world contender when it is  unwilling to provide a clean water supply to all of its residents?

Related: Why Standing Rock Will Always be About Natives

The large and coordinated effort to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline was one of the brightest moments of 2016. But if water is life, how did we as a nation allow the water crisis in Flint to go on for so long? One year ago, a state of emergency was declared in Flint due to the high rates of lead found in children’s blood. The Washington Post  released an article around the same time that stated:

The proportion of infants and children with above-average levels of lead in their blood has nearly doubled since the city switched from the Detroit water system to using the Flint River as its water source, in 2014.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there is no safe level of lead in children’s blood, and even low levels can affect kids’ IQ, their ability to pay attention and their academic achievement. The effects of lead exposure are irreversible.political-cartoon

Today, more than a year after this declaration of emergency, Flint’s residents are still being poisoned. This is antiblackness manifested into government policy. Located 70 miles outside of Detroit, Flint, Michigan, is a city whose population is 56 percent African-American, and about 41 percent of its residents live below the poverty line. The fact that Flint’s residents have been getting poisoned water for more than two years shows how much Black lives really matter in the grand policy scheme. 

As criminal charges continue to be doled out, what can we do for the the families of Flint now? It was great to see the mass coordinated effort for the Dakota Access Pipeline, but how far does the public outrage extend to residents at Flint? Click here to see how you can support Flint residents access clean water — because as historic and present-day events have shown, the government certainly won’t save them. 


Heather was born in Chicago and raised in Pasadena, California and proudly claims Oakland as her adopted home. She has a B.A. in African-American Studies from Smith College (proud Smithie), and a Masters in Education Leadership from New York University. Heather's spent the past decade working in the field of educational equity and advocacy. She currently teaches Child and Adolescent Development at San Francisco State University and manages a blog called What's Happening Black Oakland? She also contributes to Blavity, a blog for black millennials. Heather's committed to writing interesting and relevant stories that aren't being covered by the mainstream media, while straying away from the single story that is usually imposed on people of color. In her free time she enjoys traveling and going to live shows.

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