Structural racism is woven through the fabric of the most basic of human needs. While George
Floyd was denied air to breathe, thousands of people, the vast majority of color, have been
denied clean water, for months and years as in Flint. While industry pumps and seizes massive
amounts of the water in northern Michigan without payment, in Flint and Detroit the price of
water for residents is unaffordable and families are denied water for the inability to pay. This is
racism throughout the state’s water system, despite the constitution which maintains water
must be held in the public trust. We stand shoulder to shoulder with activists fighting for justice
in Flint, for a continuation of the moratorium on water shutoffs and affordability in Detroit and
against pollution of our waters, most often in communities of color. To stand for the human
right to water means we must fight for social justice and whatever impedes the right to clean,
affordable water, including systemic racism and inequality. As water warriors we recognize that
Black Lives Matter.
So what does racism have to do with the struggle to defend Michigan water. In the newsletter,
in interviews, protests and forums we have drawn the links:
- Flint residents were poisoned by an old leaded water infrastructure, by a state
administration which took away the democratic rights of the residents, appointed a city
manager and switched the water source to the contaminated Flint River. All done in a
hurry to allow private industry to privatize the water (KMG) and gauge residents
unaffordable rates for profit.
- Over 100,000 Detroit families and others around the state, have had their water shut off
and their children removed. Residents then faced homelessness, an outbreak of
Hepatitis and other water born disease, and an inability to fight Covid-19. All to make
the water profitable and ripe for privatization.
- While there is a temporary moratorium on shutoffs during the Covid crisis, we advocate
for a permanent moratorium on shutoffs, that all homes be reconnected and that water
be affordable for all. We believe water is a human right.
- We fought against the expansion of US Ecology in Detroit to push back against
hazardous waste in communities of color and the potential poisoning of the water
supply. Black and Arabic immigrant communities were the backbone of the struggle.
- And we continue to fight shoulder to shoulder with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa
and Chippewa Indians to defend their treaty rights to protect hunting, fishing and
gathering in the area impacted by Nestle’s water withdrawal.