By now, you’ve probably read stories of celebrities and local heroes donating thousands of clean water bottles to the residents of Flint, Michigan.
This comes after the national uproar of the city’s roughly 100,000 residents being exposed to lead-contaminated faucet water that have disproportionately infected small children, elders, and poor communities. So as a short-term solution, celebrities such as Cher, Pearl Jam, Puff Daddy, Meek Mill and Mark Wahlberg, have donated excessive amounts of bottled water. Small non-profit coalitions from Philadelphia to Chicago have also chimed in on the efforts and have gotten great press and social media buzz.
If only it was that simple. Mathematically speaking, Americans individually use an average of 50 gallons of water a day for standard household living, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). That would equal about 200 bottles of water per person daily (yes, we use that much water to wash dishes, our bodies, clothes, food, and more).
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With about 102,000 Flint residents, donating 100,000 bottles (which many celebrities have been doing) would only individually give a resident enough water to wash their face once. In other words, donating water is a small ripple in a huge sea of problems that beg for our attention and activism on this crisis. The first question we should all be asking ourselves is how in the hell could something like this happen in America. Then we should start focusing on those who should be held accountable.
It’s no surprise that this would have us looking at the Governor’s mansion with Republican leader Rick Snyder in charge. The Michigan governor has allowed for this human rights crisis to go on for two years and hasn’t done anything in legislation to resolve it.
A national call for his resignation should be pushed for immediately and those more concerned about the water rather than the politics behind it should reprioritize. Worrying about donating water bottles is low-hanging fruit to an issue that is larger than that. This issue wasn’t a temporary devastation that was caused by a natural disaster – but a gross negligence of public service to civilians who deserve better. The way most Americans are treating this issue is almost as if Flint was a third-world country on the other side of the world. “Pray for Flint,” someone on my Facebook timeline wrote.
“Those poor people must be devastated.” Those “poor people” are fellow Americans that are experiencing something that could happen to any one of us at any moment – especially if we are in non-affluent urban communities. Let’s stop prescribing to the pathetic humanitarian/savior complex that positions us above those less fortunate than us. We are Flint. Flint is apart of our society.
Only donating water bottles and praying is pandering at the most basic levels. We are capable of raising awareness to a higher degree than just simply making this a quantifying measure of service. Stop wasting the plastic bottles and start investing your time to getting restorative justice for Flint residents.