The water situation in Flint, Michigan, where residents have been receiving lead-filled water resulting in serious effects on people, especially children, has brought to light a troubling thought: that water, or the restriction or, as is the case here, the compromise of quality of water given to poor people, is too often used as a weapon against them.
Everyone knows that in order to live, humans must have water. We are told from a very young age that people can survive longer without food than they can without water. Dehydration can cause a person to die a painful death. Water is a necessary element in order for there to be life …and yet, governments, here and elsewhere, are using their power to restrict or compromise the supply of water to people whom they do not value.
In this country, it is no secret that black, brown and poor people are not highly valued. Some of the entitlement programs, which Republicans want to pare down, were put in place precisely because black and brown and poor people were suffering because of policies designed to limit their capacity to thrive in these United States.
But as this Flint water crisis has unfolded, it becomes clearer than ever how water is being used to compromise the lives of marginalized people here and elsewhere. In Palestine, the Israeli government, which is occupying Palestine, restricts the amount of water Palestinian people can receive. They do not supply water to Palestinian villages, while they readily supply water to Israeli settlers. Palestinians must buy their water on a scheduled basis, and their water is held in black tanks which one can see atop their houses. The Israeli government is in total control of whether or not they get the water they need in order to live.
Even if a Palestinian village is closer to a water treatment plant than is a newly formed Israeli settlement, the pipes supplying fresh water have been laid so that they bypass the village and go straight to the settlements.
It is appalling.
It is no less appalling that an emergency manager in Michigan, who had power over the local government to make decisions, decided to redirect the water supply for Flint residents from Detroit to the Flint River – to save money. It is highly troubling that no such diversions were ordered for people who live in wealthy suburbs. Flint is reportedly has a sizable black residency – over 50 percent. That, apparently, in addition to the fact that Flint was financially strapped, was enough to make the emergency manager decide that the residents of Flint could survive with water coming from a different source, which was cheaper than the water they had been using for years.
The lives of the people who would be affected by the water switch didn’t matter. It was all about the money.
In Israel, it is about the Israeli government, wanting its own homeland, compromising the lives of the Palestinians.
In Flint, insult has been added to injury as the government has continued to charge residents for water they cannot use or drink, and which has already irreparably damaged their children.
The city of Flint, and other cities in this nation, are violating the basic human rights of people by sending them poisoned water and making them pay for it. The Israeli government is as well compromising the human rights of the Palestinian people, making them pay for water in their own land while freely supplying Israeli settlers as they move into Palestine to start a new life. The restriction of water is basically being used as a weapon against poor people. http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/26/us/flint-michigan-water-crisis-race-poverty/)
The situation is so sad, so wrong and so indicative of the depth of racism that pervades not only this country but this world, that it is hard to write about.
But we need to look at what is going on, and, in the case or Flint, get water to the people and filters even as we press for justice, making the local government back away from its insistence on charging people for poisoned water.
It is the least we can do.
A candid observation …