As we commemorate this historic day, I am mindful of how unprecedented the times we live in have become. From the water crisis to the pandemic, the people of Flint are enduring one trauma on top of another. While COVID-19 would seek to keep us apart, this community is still coming together to support one another and stand in solidarity. Seven years after the fateful day that our water supply was switched to the Flint River, Flint is still not whole. Flint is still fighting for justice!
“Through seven years of heartache and hope, we’ve seen heroes and heavy-duty warriors who would not give up the fight for what is right,” said Jay Cummings, a member of Woodside Church. ”I have seven years of appreciation for all who I had the chance to be within the marches, meetings, and struggles for justice. I’m thankful for a people and a city that would not quit. I’m looking forward to joining the work yet to come”.
While this disaster did not occur under Biden’s administration nor Governor Whitmer’s administration, it is now their responsibility to fix what was broken. We are tired of politicians coming to Flint seeking our vote and then turning around and without putting forth the legislation and direction needed to make Flint whole. They want our votes but not our problems. But we know that if we can vote them in, we can vote them out just as easily.
Our city has made progress replacing lead service lines, but we aren’t done yet! We implore our Federal Government to invest in infrastructure projects to address water accessibility and affordability. While Governor Whitmer touts fixing the damn roads, the people of Flint are still asking to fix our damn water!
Fix our water treatment plant! Fix the water mains that were damaged from the same corrosive water that GM was privileged to stop using while our health, our community, and our future corroded.
The Emergency Manager Law that created this man-made disaster is still on the books. Despite the fact that residents across the State of Michigan voted down the Emergency Manager Laws by ballot vote. Make no mistake; Flint was poisoned by bad policy. Unless there is change, the Emergency Manager Law will continue to harm Michigan.
“Many can attest to this after 7 years or even 17 yearS,” said Flint resident Tamia Pearce. “The residents of Genesee County are still tormented by the water crisis to the point they will forever remember how they were not able to cook, clean or drink the water from the faucets of their own homes or apartments."
With criminal court cases pending and little progress on accountability, we are growing weary of whether the legal system can deliver justice. The 642 million dollar civil settlement is a start, but it’s not enough. There are parties who aren’t even willing to come to the table to recognize or acknowledge their role in the poisoning of Flint. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has yet to settle amends with Flint residents. The Biden administration wants to progress on environmental justice and climate change that change can start right here in Flint. We need environmental justice in Flint.
“The devastation of the water crisis has taken way longer than anyone expected to resolve. Most of us hold uncertainty in our hearts each time we hear about another proposed settlement,” said Pearce. “Before anything is agreed to, the people who were exposed to the poison in our water and suffered, as a result, need to be able to review all of the details in writing. We need to know who would be covered, how it will affect our healthcare, and what the timeline would be.”
Water is not a privilege; it is a human right. Water is the essence of life. Flint still does not have clean, safe, and affordable water. Many rely on bottled water from charitable distribution sites.
“Over the seven years as a Flint resident, this crisis has been a huge inconvenience and still is since I am not able to use water freely in my home,” said Givaunni Jackson. “I have to keep water bottles on hand, which is costly over time, not to mention the high water bills every month. I'm not sure I'll ever trust the water here”.
The water crisis in Flint is not over. We are a community that is experiencing one public health crisis underneath a pandemic. On this 7 year commemoration, we reflect on where we have come and plan for our future. We are Flint Strong, and we will keep fighting for justice, dignity, and democracy!