Since the 1970s, research has been compiled that links low income communities that have majority populations of people of color with an increased likelihood of lead poisoning; air pollution; and proximity to landfills, incinerators, and hazardous waste treatment facilities. This connection is known as environmental racism, and it lies at the heart of the Flint water crisis. The city is nearly 47 percent African American—with 41 percent of residents living below the poverty line—and hasn’t had control of its finances since 2011. That’s right. Every financial decision in Flint since 2011 has been made at the state levels rather than by the city council or mayor thanks to a Michigan law that allows the state to appoint an emergency financial manager to handle the city’s budget. In total, about 50 percent of Michigan’s African American population is under the control of an emergency manger who doesn’t need to be elected to the position. During the ten-year period between 2003 and 2013, expected revenue was cut by nearly $55 million. That’s a problem for a city plagued with an aging water infrastructure system that would cost an estimated $767 million. In comparison, cities with majority white populations and economic problems like Troy, Hazel Park, and Pleasant Ridge never came under financial oversight.
Videos Regarding Environmental Racism
Source: MiLK; images from Detroit Free Press, Sam Owens, and AP