Flint, Beyond the Crisis

160121213624-flint-water-crisis-lead-gupta-dnt-ac-00031308-large-169Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib at The Baffler:

TO CALL WHAT IS HAPPENING IN FLINT, MICHIGAN a “water crisis” feels both exact and not. I’m not sure there’s other language that is as definite, short, and sharp for what was a massive institutional failure on many levels, spanning several years. The story, well documented, is jarring: in April 2014, Flint changed its water source. The city switched from treated Detroit water, sourced from Lake Huron, to water sourced from the Flint River. Officials didn’t apply the necessary corrosion inhibitors to the water, which resulted in eventual lead contamination. Lead from old pipes filtered into the water supply leading to dangerously elevated levels. In short, the city’s water was poisoned. The percentage of Flint children under the age of five with elevated blood-lead levels shot up—from 2.5 percent in 2013 to 5 percent in 2015.

It’s vital that we look at a place as more than just the violence that has been done to it. The word “crisis” is a funny one, even when it most closely describes a situation. I hear “crisis” and I think of something that simply arrived, engineered by no one. Something that couldn’t be helped, though it turned the lives of everyone in its path upside down. I hear crisis and I think weather, some uncontrollable element, sweeping over a place and leaving nothing.

more here.