This week’s news cycle has been dominated by Sundance craziness and the heated controversy over the Oscars and diversity, but amidst these media-related headlines is a severe issue that’s endangering the lives of certain Americans: The Flint, Michigan water crisis.
In 2014, the Flint government decided to switch the city’s water supply from nearby Detroit to the Flint River, which has ended up putting a population of 100,000 at risk due to elevated levels of lead found in the river’s water.
The situation has gotten so bad over the past 18 months that earlier this week the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ordered Michigan to take immediate action to address the issues with its drinking water system. Whether you’ve heard about this crisis or not, one person who is making damn sure you don’t forget about it is Flint native Michael Moore. The outspoken filmmaker has been all over the news in recent months, from bashing Trump’s anti-Muslim policies to writing an open letter to Michigan’s governor against his anti-refugee ban, but he’s never been more vital than he is in a new op-ed written for TIME Magazine.
Published to TIME’s website early yesterday, the article, entitled “Michael Moore: Flint Poisoning Is a ‘Racial Crime,'” finds the “Where to Invade Next” director lashing out at the handling of the Flint water crisis and shining a light on the issue like no publication really has.
“The people of my hometown are being poisoned,” he boldly begins the piece. “Let me not mince words: This is a racial crime. If it were happening in another country, we’d call it an ethnic cleansing.”
He goes on to explain that because Flint’s majority population is poor African Americans who have “no political power, no lobbyists [and] no money,” the government, led by Governor Rick Snyder, was able to easily sweep their complaints about the lead in their water under the rug without consequence for so long. “Everybody knows that this would not have happened in predominantly white Michigan cities like West Bloomfield, or Grosse Pointe, or Ann Arbor,” Moore notes.
“The American middle class was built in Flint,” he states later on. “Our grandparents knew that if they worked hard and the company prospered, they prospered. That was the American Dream, and it spread from Flint to the rest of the nation. Then around 1980, General Motors, a company that was making billions, figured out that it could make even more money by sending jobs to the nonunion South or overseas. This halved Flint’s population and brought along unemployment, poverty, alcoholism, broken families and other ills…Flint went through a three-decade economic and social assault. Those who could get off the sinking ship — myself included — escaped. And those who were abandoned and left behind? They got their water poisoned.”
For more of Moore’s thoughts on this pressing issue, read his entire op-ed over at TIME.