Thursday, February 4, 2016

Last Call For In Like Flint

Flint, Michigan's water crisis is a dangerous and immediate problem, but it's a symptom of a much larger issue of urban structural racism in America that affects all aspects of communities with large populations of black and Hispanic residents.  It's as much economic racism as it is environmental and social.

“It costs money to move,” said Sandra Ballard, a 62-year-old retiree who lives on the impoverished north side of Flint. Shesaid she struggled to pay her $350 a month rent for a three-bedroom apartment with a patched ceiling. “You’ve got to put first and last month’s rent down. Believe me, I wish I could get out of here.” 
People in poor and crime-ridden pockets of cities like Detroit and Baltimore often share the sense of being trapped because of market forces and limited resources. But the people of Flint have a special urgency about leaving. 
Because of the health crisis stemming from their tainted water, they spend their days dealing with the consequences. 
They use bottled water for drinking, washing their hands and preparing food. In between, they shuttle children to pediatricians for blood tests, lug bottled water home from firehouses and install and change water filters on their home faucets. (Even so, city and state officials warned Friday that lead levels were still so high in some homes that the filters might not be strong enough to be effective.) 
Yet many people here have no alternative but to stay. 
I couldn’t rent out my house now if I wanted to,” said Joyce Cruz, 35, a homeowner and the mother of five. “Who would want to move to Flint?”

Republican misrule in Michigan and in dozens of other states makes that increasingly clear.  Even if there wasn't mass incarceration of black and brown individuals and a two-tiered public education system that's designed to close the poorest schools, now we're seeing black and brown communities being denied basic services and human rights.

I don't want to make light of the brutal situation in the West Bank or Gaza, or of the completely indecent and utterly inhumane conditions that Palestinians are forced to live in, but you look at cities like Flint and you wonder if America isn't going down a smilar path yet again in its dark history of internment and apartheid.

And in many ways we never left that path.

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