As you should know about now, the good people of Flint have been drinking bad, dirty, filthy and toxic water for over a year. Yes, children, their parents, the elderly, the sick, and the weak have been drinking, cooking, bathing and washing their clothes in toxic, contaminated water. The question is “What are we going to do about it?” Flint can be your city; this can be your family, your mother, your grandmother and your children drinking nasty water simply because the government did not care.
In a move to save money in April 2014, the state of Michigan disconnected the water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. The city of Flint was taken over by the government to fix the so-called economic problems in the city. They fixed it alright by “flipping the switch.” Flint has a population close to 100,000 people and over half of them are Black and poor. Consequently, it was easy to disconnect the flow of good water and allow these poor people to drink from the polluted Flint River. Yes, the governor needs to be ashamed of himself and all of his appointees who were directly or indirectly involved in this reckless matter.
“The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) incorrectly advised the city of Flint that corrosion control treatment was not necessary, resulting in leaking of lead into the city’s drinking water. The EPA regional staff urged MDEQ to address the lack of corrosion control, but was met with resistance. The delays in implementing the actions needed to treat the drinking water and in informing the public of ongoing health risks raise very serious concerns,” said Joel Beauvais, acting Deputy Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Water. Yes, this is more than a tragedy; this is a crisis in leadership and it could be happening in a city near you and it will happen, if we don’t stand up and fix Flint!
I have preached in the city of Flint on many occasions. I know many of the pastors and leaders in the state of Michigan. At a Pastors’ Conference that I hosted last week in Tallahassee, Feb. 1-3, I invited a pastor from Flint to share with the conference pastors and laity about this bad water crisis in Flint. What Pastor Mark Jones shared with us was very heart-wrenching and heart-breaking. He mentioned the number of people who are complaining about rashes, headaches and downright depression from using this contaminated water. It should be clear to all of us that the impact of drinking high lead, toxic water will affect the health of children in particular, for years to come, and probably for the rest of their lives.
This debacle is an injustice; this travesty is environmental racism at its worse. Medical experts are saying that because these children had to drink this messy, muddy, bad smelling water, it will have a detrimental impact on their motor skills, speech patterns, the texture of their hair and skin, etc. Listen, the big question is “What are we going to do about this?” The governor has appropriated a meager $28 million dollars to try and fix this problem. No, governor, it is going to cost more than $28 million dollars to fix Flint. The governor will leave the governorship in a few years from now, but under his watch, because of governmental neglect, children will suffer and many will live with brain and behavior disorders for many years to come. What is the cost for losing and destroying the lives of innocent little children? What is the cost for a deliberate decision to allow close to 100,000 people to drink poisonous water?
At the pastors’ conference, the theme was “Save the Family Now!” The future of Flint must be about saving the family and saving the family now. The pastors agreed to hold a faith-based summit in Flint, May 19-21, to keep the pressure on the governor, the legislature and others to let them know that many of us are not going to walk away and go back to business as usual. When the media have left, we will not, because these children and families of Flint will have to deal with the side affects of drinking dirty and polluted water for the rest of their lives.
We are going to bring together a coalition of leaders to challenge this kind of irresponsible decision. We must encourage the state and federal government to replace those old rusted and diseased pipes. Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said it will cost as much as $1.5 billion dollars to fix the city’s damaged water distribution system.
We are going to encourage the Democratic and Republican Parties do a resolution at their upcoming conventions this year to condemn what has happened to the good people of Flint. We are going to ask the leading candidates of both political parties who are running for the presidency to come to Flint and smell the water, to taste the water and listen to the hurting people and suffering children. Let me be clear: we need to make Flint better again. We must all stand up and fight to fix Flint. Flint must become a movement and not a moment.
You ought to make plans to join us in Flint, Mich., May 19-21to save the children and save the family. FLINT LIVES MATTER!