GSI: Elizabeth Gilbert
The Flint Water Crisis and Implicit Racism Imagine consuming and using water that is not clear, but yellow in color. This is a harsh reality that the people of Flint, Michigan experience every day. The Flint Water Crisis reflects the structural and environmental racism towards African Americans in the United States government due to the disproportionate exposure of lead and other toxic chemicals in the water and their lack of political power. The difficult question I am trying to address is: “ If Flint were rich and mostly white, would Michigan’s state government have responded more quickly and aggressively to complaints about its lead-polluted water (Eligon 1)? To do this, …show more content…
Since 1995, Genesee Power Station, located next to an elementary school, has been releasing many chemical compounds into the atmosphere including nitrogen dioxide, lead, and carbon monoxide, all of which are results of burning wood covered in lead-based paint (Craven 1).Through the disproportionate exposure of lead and other toxic chemicals to the African-American community, this issue deals with not only class, but race. Companies have been planting their factories and unloading dangerous chemicals into the atmosphere and water sources, affecting the poor communities. It would be unusual to see this type of treatment towards predominantly white, affluent communities with power; they just would not let this happen to their community. However, this issue is not black and white. Others have said that the lead poisoning was due to factors other than pollution, including bad diet, second-hand smoke, lifestyle, or lack of health care (Craven 1). Nevertheless, the main cause of lead poisoning is the pollution as it directly and disproportionately affected the Flint population.
Due to a lack of political power, African-Americans living in Flint were disproportionately affected. Most environmental decisions are connected to government and the larger …show more content…
In my opinion, I think that events similar to the Flint Water Crisis and Hurricane Katrina are vulnerable to occur again. However, these issues can be mediated or even prevented with an increase in representation in government, empathy, and social media. There is a lack of representation in United States government, as most of the current government consists of affluent, old white men who have lived in their own bubble consisting of other white men. Our current government is becoming more diverse in terms of race, but there is still a need for more representation from people of color who can provide their unique point of view into the national conversation. We need more people of color who can lend and use their voice for their communities. With more diversity, we can open a dialogue in politics about protecting all citizens, regardless of race or class. To help prevent these disasters from occurring again, not only the government, but society as a whole must listen to the pleas of others who need help. Case workers and nonprofits can help and listen to these people's’ stories and empathize with their struggles in order to properly understand their situation. By doing so, we can have a better understanding of how to approach their situation and find ways to help. In addition, with social media, we can leverage the voices of the oppressed and quickly spread information to people