The Flint water crisis and the poisoning of black children is yet another example of violence waged against African-Americans each and every day.
Sometimes, the crimes take the form of bullets (from police or otherwise) riddling innocent black bodies. Other times, the acts of torture are protracted, prolonged and gradual — like Flint, Michigan.
Someone needs to go to prison for it.
The predominantly black children of Flint are inflicted with Third World problems in the wealthiest nation on earth, in a region surrounded by water from the Great Lakes.
Instead, they were provided with swill, waste water that even GM refused to mess with because it was corroding the car parts. But it was fine for black children, because some officials may view them as thugs and animals anyway or likely to end up in jail.
Lead poisoning will haunt these girls and boys for the rest of their lives.
This disaster demonstrates that, once again, black people are sitting targets, accused of being a criminal element yet suffering as perpetual victims of crime who never find justice. A few days ago, seeking clarity on the situation and hoping to vent the outrage and frustrations of people out there, I decided to tweet about it:
Somewhere a kid is in jail over a dime bag of weed. But no one is behind bars for poisoning an entire city of children. #FlintWaterCrisis
— David A. Love (@davidalove) January 18, 2016
And based on the feedback I received, I’ve decided to expand on this idea.
There is no shortage of black people, particularly black men, who are in prison over nonviolent drug offenses, targeted exclusively for arrest, prosecution and prison, even as whites and blacks consume such substances, including marijuana, at similar rates. Billions of dollars are wasted on millions of race-based marijuana arrests, according to the ACLU, with blacks 3.73 times more likely than whites to face arrest
A Jim Crow justice system — which operates on the presumption that black folks, as slaves, are no good and need to be punished — reserves certain criminal laws for black people, criminalizing activities that are only associated with black people or are considered criminal solely when practiced by black people.
This is the story of institutional racism and implicit bias, the story of America, of racial attitudes and stereotypes translating into policy. Martin Luther King called them “unjust laws.” The power structure, those who write and execute the laws, subjects the poor and people of color to policies that do not apply to the majority interests calling the shots. This affects so many facets of life for people of color.
Meanwhile, what of the real lawbreaking taking place in our midst? Flint native Michael Moore has called for the arrest of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder. And he’s onto something:
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) January 7, 2016
Snyder apologized for the water crisis, but apologies are not enough.
And certainly, there is enough blame to go around — including the state and local officials who celebrated the change in water systems by toasting to a glass of Flint water, the corrupt state authorities who covered up the scandal when they knew Flint resident were drinking poison and told people to stop complaining and just take a sip, and the EPA officials who were sleeping on the job.
But apologies are appropriate when you accidentally bump into someone walking down the street. Criminal sanctions are necessary when people are injured and killed. And that rarely happens when white people are involved in crimes against black folks, which is why Flint is so important.
If we are not careful, Snyder will emerge from this tragedy as the “comeback kid” who cleaned up the mess and fired some people, all while denying the existence of environmental racism or any culpability on his part. But he was the governor who was hailed as a hero by conservatives and the media for sticking it to black and poor folks and thwarting the democratic process by taking over predominantly black municipalities through a sweeping emergency manager system.
Some even considered Snyder presidential candidate material. Now, all this man has to show us are redacted emails, and apparently some important emails are missing. He and others need to see the inside of a courtroom.
Follow David A. Love on Twitter at @davidalove