The people of the heavily black and working class city of Flint, Michigan, are in deep crisis. Why? Studies have shown that the city’s water supply is heavily contaminated with lead. Why is there lead in the water? In 2014, the City of Flint, under emergency management imposed by the state of Michigan, began obtaining its water supply from the nearby Flint River instead of where it had been getting water before, the also beleaguered City of Detroit. This was done as a cost cutting austerity measure. In racist, imperialist America, austerity measures always target and impact oppressed nationality populations and working class first, as a rule. We also suffer harshly the effects of capitalist disregard for the environment. This is shown here in Saint Louis by the Bridgeton landfill fire, which threatens to burn nuclear waste. The working class community residing around the landfill are expected to just suffer from capitalist, imperialist caused cancer and recklessness, and be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice when the waste catches fire, releasing noxious radioactivity and ruining entire segments of North County. This austerity water measure wouldn’t have been applied to the places where people like Rick Snyder live, nor would a toxic waste dump be on his doorstep or in his backyard. Almost immediately, the people of Flint began voicing deep concern about the quality of the water after the change. People reported having odd rashes and took note of the water’s color, metallic taste and strong odor. Flint residents began showing up to meetings with jugs of this nasty, brown water that appeared to come from a latrine, as opposed to a tap.
Despite this concern from the people and the noted, visible change in quality, officials continued to insist that this poisonous water was safe to drink. Safe to drink, yet in October of 2014, a GM plant in the city stopped using the new municipal water in production, because it was corroding car parts. Water from the Flint River is corrosive. When it travels through the old lead pipes that are used in many places in Flint, the lead in the pipes leaches into the water, thus poisoning it. This water is corrosive because for decades, capitalist heavy industry that drew black workers to Flint in the first place dumped caustic, acidic, corrosive substances into this river, thereby polluting it and boosting their profit margins. Now, the white supremacist state of Michigan decided that it was time for Flint to drink the poison.
In February of 2015, the EPA noted extremely high levels of lead in a Flint resident’s water sample. The next month, a private consultant group hired by the city stated that the water was fine. Why was the water judged as fine? Would Veolia executives or Governor Snyder’s family drink, cook with, or bathe in this? Of course not. What was meant was that this water is fine for the working class majority black population of Flint. This water wouldn’t be delivered to the wealthy areas of Grosse Pointe or Ladue or Beverly Hills or Chesterfield. This water is for East Saint Louis, Gary, Allentown, Bethlehem, and Saint Louis north of Delmar. It’s for us. What happened when the masses continued to complain and voice outrage against the poisoning of their water all throughout the year 2015? The state ignored them.
A top aide to Michigan’s governor referred to people raising questions about the quality of Flint’s water as an “anti-everything group.” Other critics were accused of turning complaints about water into a “political football.” And worrisome findings about lead by a concerned pediatrician were dismissed as “data,” in quotes.
That view of how the administration of Gov. Rick Snyder initially dealt with the water crisis in the poverty-stricken, black-majority city of Flint emerged from 274 pages of emails, made public by the governor on Wednesday.
The correspondence records mounting complaints by the public and elected officials, as well as growing irritation by state officials over the reluctance to accept their assurances.
It was not until late in 2015, after months of complaints, that state officials finally conceded what critics had been contending: that Flint was in the midst of a major public health emergency, as tap water pouring into families’ homes contained enough lead to show up in the blood of dozens of people in the city. Even small amounts of lead could cause lasting health and developmental problems in children.
Irritation by state officials over the reluctance to accept their assurances? This is almost tantamount to telling a slave that they should be content with their lot and not struggle for freedom, or telling a minimum wage worker that they should be happy that they have a job in the first place. Lead is a poisonous substance. Even small, trace amounts of it can have detrimental effects on small children, ranging from seizures to cognitive difficulties. Why should the people of Flint not be only reluctant to accept these bogus assurances, but directly and militantly challenge these ridiculous lies? Should the people sit back and watch as they’re poisoned to death to save a few dollars? Despite repeated tests from a variety of agencies and medical and environmental professionals showing how badly the city’s water is contaminated and how detrimental this is to the health of the people of the city of Flint, and continued complaints and internet posts from the people of the city detailing their suffering, the state still continued to insist that this water was fit for the consumption of human beings until the closing months of 2015. Now, the area is under a state of federal emergency, and the progressive people of other areas are buying and bringing bottled water in solidarity with the poisoned people of Flint. This is what capitalism and imperialism delivers to the working people of Flint, Michigan, the working people of the United States, and the working people of the whole world. Poison, pain, death, and suffering, all while the capitalists insist that everything is fine.
The crisis in Flint is the direct result of environmental racism and attempted genocide against the population of this majority black city. Environmental racism is nothing new. Indigenous people in the Southwest are poisoned by nuclear waste and uranium mining, and in our own backyard, East Saint Louis, the environmental situation is marked by:
one of the highest rates of child asthma in the country…lead poisoning, educational disparities, unemployment, and toxic exposure…a deteriorating infrastructure and financial vulnerability further weakens the fight against chemical industries within East St. Louis.
Governor Rick Snyder and his administration bear blame for the situation of Flint. The release of e-mails shows that he and his clique bore no genuine concern for the city or its residents, but was simply irritated and concerned about the political. The order of things that produces and props up people like Snyder, white-supremacist capitalism-imperialism, is responsible. It poisoned the Flint River for years, it buries nuclear waste under our soil, sprays experimental substances over our neighborhoods, and then decide to kill us further than they do by compelling us to work for them, to save their state budgets. Under capitalism, poisoned water, air and soil is normal, and to the capitalists, fine. They don’t have to live where it is. To defeat poisoned water, air and soil, and protect the natural resources that are necessary for our survival on this planet, we have to defeat capital-imperialism. To kill a poisonous weed or unwanted plant, the gardener must remove it and any trace of it from the soil. Governor Snyder and others who sold poisonous lies to the people of Flint should be hounded from office and spend every last moment of the rest of their lives in shame and scorn. The people of Flint should receive the recompense that they have demanded for the pain and suffering that they’ve suffered at the hands of Snyder and his system. Victims of environmental racism and attempted genocide at the hands of racist government officials and their capitalist system must unite and together work for the demise of the system that is literally driving the entire world to crisis. All progressive-minded and revolutionary working class people and students must unite to combat environmental racism, through more than just marches, meetings, and rallies. We have to seriously study revolutionary theory and engage with the masses in practice to produce truly revolutionary politics
COMPENSATION AND JUSTICE FOR THE PEOPLE OF FLINT!
DOWN WITH POISONOUS CAPITALISM-IMPERIALISM!
UNITE AND FIGHT! BUILD A REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT!