A Letter from Our Founder on Flint
Because Article One is based in Flint, Michigan, I’ve been thinking for some time that I need to write a blog post about Flint and the water crisis. I considered writing about the water crisis in general and the massive misconduct that led to the poisoning of thousands of children. I also considered focusing on the amazing things happening in Flint today, like our vibrant and close-knit community, our farmers market, our community of artists, or the heroes that live among us, like Dr. Hanna-Attisha or Senator Jim Ananich.
But I can’t do that. I can’t write about the amazing people that live here, or even about the water crisis itself, because there is a conversation that needs to begin now before it is too late. That conversation should be focused on the enormous lack of opportunity and disenfranchisement that has existed for generations in this city. Now that we have the nation’s attention and subsequent funding on its way to Flint, how can we reverse the institutionalized racism and economic depression that has plagued generations?
I am, along with everyone else in Flint, extremely thankful for all of the support people throughout the country have given us. Millions of dollars have been donated to send water to our residents, our schools, and to funds, like flintkids.org, to help with the fallout of lead poisoning.
But like I said, it is time for some of us to focus on problems that our city has faced since long before the water crisis, which in some ways worse affect our citizens than lead poisoning.
Stephen Henderson of the Detroit Free Press made a great point when he wrote, “I’ve heard so many times over the past few weeks about how the effects of drinking lead-laced water might last a lifetime, that the children of Flint could grow up to face immeasurable hurdles learning and finding productive lives. But that should provide both the rhetorical and social foundation for a much deeper inquiry into what those lives looked like before the water crisis - and it was apparently not worth the kind of attention we’re now seeing from Lansing and Washington.”
Yesterday (February 22nd) I had the opportunity to express my point of view to multiple members of the US Congress, including Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and Congressman Dan Kildee. I am so thankful for the opportunity to speak with leaders like these, and I made sure to point out the following: Even if we are able to repair all of the lead pipes in a timely manner, and if we are able to change outsider’s perspectives of Flint, and if we are able to remediate the lead poisoning done to our children, we will still be in the same position we were two years ago. We will still have one of the most disenfranchised populations in the country.
I hope that we can begin to talk about policies that will enfranchise the disenfranchised of Flint. While we absolutely need funding to be directed towards new infrastructure, we also need substantial funding to go to education and healthcare. Amongst other issues, we also need to make sure no one in our city has to travel on a bus for half the day just to get to a grocery store.
I could continue on for pages about actions needed to help the people of Flint, but instead, I will leave you with this: If you would like to help us here in Flint, please send donations to The Flint Child Health & Development Fund, created to help with the long term remediation of lead poisoning. Along with that, I’d love to speak with anyone about ways we can push policy in the right direction. If you are a leader here in Flint, or someone outside of Flint that wants to help, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org to start a conversation.
On behalf of my city, thank you very much for your compassion.
Founder and CEO, Article One