“Water is a human right!” read signs held by angry residents in Flint Michigan1—a majority-Black city where 40 percent of people live in poverty—complaining of unsafe drinking water. In April 2015—one year after residents started complaining—an independent test done by Virginia Tech researchers found lead levels at 13,200 ppb (water is considered hazardous waste at 5,000 ppb). High lead levels are especially harmful to children and pregnant women, can cause severe learning disabilities and in some cases death, asserted the World Health Organization.2 That same year, General Motors announced it would stop using Flint River water, fearing corrosion in its machines.3What’s maddening to residents is how their dire situation is largely ignored by national media sources. Only after two years did stories start to appear informing the public of the crisis. “Troubled Waters” is an allegory depicting those who have been and are being affected by the contamination of water here in the U.S., and it serves as a foreshadowing of things to come if all attempts to prevent further damage to our waters fail. But, what if no one cares and the issue threatening our community is ignored? Machines are protected, but people are not. Under such dire circumstances, can we still appeal to or expect civility? – Timothy Muehlhoff
Cite this article
- Jake May, “More Than Fifty People Protest Flint’s Water Quality in Downtown March,” MLive, February 14, 2015, https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2015/02/flint_residents_protest_citys.html.
- World Health Organization, “Lead Poisoning,” October 11, 1921, https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/lead-poisoning-and-health.
- Roger Fonger, “General Motors Shutting Off Flint River Water At Engine Plant Over Corrosion Worries,” MLive, October 13, 2014; updated January 20, 2019, https://www.mlive.com/news/flint/2014/10/general_motors_wont_use_flint.html.