Flint and environmental racism

There are a lot of facets of the environmental
movement. Global atmospheric temperatures increasing, the destruction of our forests,
the melting of icecaps, endangered species, pollution for days and the nastyness and prevalence
of fossil fuels. But as bad as all of those are on their own, what’s worse is how they
all come together and dramatically and disproportionately affect low-income and minority communities
around the world. This is environmental racism. And in my mind, it is the single largest issue
the global community is facing right now. So let’s talk about Flint, Michigan. Perhaps
the most visible case of environmental racism right now. What happened? I’m generalizing a bit here, but like nearby
Detroit, when U.S. car manufacturing started to nose dive lots of people and lots of money
left the area, seriously damaging the city’s economy. Also, Michigan has a law that allows
for the appointment of emergency managers in times of crisis, like a financial crisis.
They can basically do whatever the f they want without going thru the normal, you know,
voting thing. Flint’s first emergency manager was appointed
in 2002. And there is a messy and confusing history
of emergency managers between then and now. Then in April of 2014, the emergency manager,
Ed Kurtz and Mayor Dayne Walling decided to switch water supplies from Detroit’s to
the Flint River. And that’s when Flint citizens noticed a
change in the look, smell and taste of their tap water. So what’s wrong with the Flint River water?
Well there are a lot of ways bodies of water moving thru a populous city can get polluted.
But there are a few concrete ideas going around. Investigations are now ongoing that GM dumped
a load of crap and chemicals into the Flint River in the 60s and then buried it up. Interestingly
enough, GM actually switched water sources in 2014 when they noticed the water from the
Flint River was corroding their machinery. Additionally, the Flint River could have gotten
full up with Chloride as a result of the salt-laden runoff from deicing streets. The runoff from
road salts settles to the bottom of pipes and clogs them up real good. We’ve seen
this build up in all sorts of snowy areas, with chloride concentrations in northern US
states approximately doubling from 1990 to 2011. Michigan is known to be particularly
salty, with high levels of chloride in streams near urban areas. When Flint switched their
water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, they suddenly found themselves facing
eight times the amount of chloride. You’d think the water on its own would be
enough of an issue. But because it was full of corrosives, the water began to strip and
erode the pipes — which because they were installed before people realized how awful
awful lead is, were full of lead. Normally this kind of issues is solved with orthophosphate,
or another corrosion inhibitor. They work by increasing the pH, decreasing the acidity,
of the water and coat the old pipes to keep them from corroding and leaking terrifying
things like lead into the water. For some inane, possibly cost cutting reason, Flint
stopping using a corrosion inhibitor when they switched water sources, letting all that
toxic build-up flow freely into people’s homes. They’ve switched water sources back
now, thank goodness, but too much damage has already been done. Flint residents have been demanding help and
action since right after the switch. But as Hillary said: HILLARY: If the kids in a rich
suburb of Detroit had been drinking contaminated water and being bathed in it, there would
have been action. And she’s right. This is the crux of the environmental justice
movement. Though government officials were aware of
resident complaints as early as JUNE 2015, and arguably long before, a state of emergency
wasn’t declared until January 5, 2016. And all that time, government officials told the
public that their water was safe. FLINT RESIDENT AARON STINSON: People knew
that the water was going to be poison. People knew that we were going to get sick. People
knew that there were gonna be backlash. PROTESTERS: What do we want? Clean Water!
When do we want it? NOW! LEEANNE WALTERS: Broken policy and procedures
are smothering the outcry of an entire community suffering, financially, physically, mentally,
and emotionally. FLINT RESIDENT: It’s sad that this city has
come to this, this is a great city, it’s sad that it has come to this. PROTESTERS: Flint lives matter. Flint lives
matter. Nearly 9000 children under the age of six,
most of them children of color, have been exposed to lead from Flint’s water. Lead
exposure is dangerous for people of every age, but is particularly hazardous for young
children. Any amount of lead poisoning in children can lead to permanent learning disabilities. Also, for all those folks, asking why anyone
would be so stupid to drink brown or red or muddy water. For the most, what changes the
color – isn’t what’s gonna hurt you – thats mostly do to iron from pipes – a relatively
harmless, and often useful mineral. You can’t see, or smell, or taste lead. The water could
run clear, and in some places in Flint it did, and still have lead in it. Plus saying
things like this assumes folks have the resources to purchase bottled water or filters which
simply isn’t always true. Water, clean water, is a recognized human right. And its important
to remember that. So what about Flint’s future?
Housing values have plummeted. Would you ever consider moving to flint now? For some people
whose only equity is their home, it is now worthless. And an entire generation of children has lead
poisoning – a neurological poison – are we still going to be helping and talking about
flint when the water is clean but thousands of kids need a customized education that will
help them live and learn with whatever disabilities might arise? This is a race and environment thing – not
/just/ an infrastructure or old pipes thing, not just a bureaucracy thing. this didn’t
happen because paperwork was ‘accidentally’ misplaced. or because government is just slowwww.
This happened because in the united states, black people in particular have been disenfranchised
and effectively segregated long after Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Black people
and people in poverty have been pushed to the outskirts for decades. And it is even more obvious zooming out from
flint. Lets think about how cities are constructed. This is a heat map of apartment costs in the
greater new york city area. The darker the red, the more expensive. Now i’ll lay in
the demographics. No big surprise, the darker red matches up pretty well with the majority
white areas. Now look what happens when I drop in highways, sewage plants, other sanitation
facilities, chemical producing factories, airports and power plants. It is pretty easy
to see the reality of this systemic problem. And it gets worse. Because going ‘green’
is more or less in vogue now politically and culturally – so we see some hopefully well-intentioned
responses. But if i lay in the cities green spaces and eco friendly air cleaning solutions
and other initiatives those fall in the richer, whiter areas. The places that by comparison,
need these kinds of solutions, don’t get them. And this isn’t just a nyc thing. It happens
in almost every major city. Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit, and DC, among hundreds of others. And as bad as environmental racism has gotten
in the U.S. it would be naive to not look at this issue in a global context. The U.S. and Europe effectively export our
pollution. We ship the nastiness of clothing production, manufacturing, waste management
and a lot of fossil fuel energy production overseas. And it just keeps getting worse. Global temperature
rising is associated with sea-level rise and island-nations around the world are being
flooded. Communities that have done NOTHING to contribute to the global climate crisis
are the first to suffer the consequences. Island nations like Tuvalu and the Marshall
Islands will likely be underwater within the century. And we see indigenous communities and their
lands destroyed by ventures to extract fuel or build pipelines. But there is some good here, some progress
is being made. The new PM of Canada, Justin Trudeau just agreed that all new pipelines
would be subject to a serious climate test and will directly consult with First Nation
communities impacted by the proposed Trans Mountain and Energy East pipeline projects.
And around the country and globe, local initiatives bringing green spaces and environmental solutions
have expanded. The events in Flint, especially, have begun
to create a national conversation about environmental justice. Both democratic nominees for president
have spoken loudly, and incredibly publicly during the debates about the Flint crisis
and environmental justice In light of all this, what can you do?
For flint – I’ve included links below for resources to donate bottled water, filters
or money – as well as loads of links to learn more about the crisis. For your own city or town, you can attend
council meets and vote to ensure that greening and eco friendly initiatives are built where
they are needed and conversely, waste plants and other factories are not concentrated exclusively
in low income areas. Although it took far too long, the citizens of Flint were loud,
and continued to speak out until the country and the media took notice. Let their activism
be a shining example for how this kind of institutional and environmental racism can
be combatted. And globally, we can all work together to
hold our nations to their word from the Paris Climate talks and not to allow the global
atmospheric temperatures to rise more than 2ºC.
Thanks so much for watching I hope you like the video. Let me know if you have any questions
or comments down below. Subscribe if you want to see more things like this, like the video
if you liked it, and I hope you’re having a fantastic day. By333!

Comments 63

  • Feel the Bern!

  • This video is so frikkin great and informational! AND THE EDITING. I CRY EVERTIM.

  • Communities who have done nothing to contribute suffer the most, this was so informative and helpful

  • this was so informative and beautiful! I really hope that people, including myself, don't forget about Flint as we move forward because as you said the damage is permanent

  • It's like….when people find the intersectionality….I cry

  • WHAT A GREAT VIDEO!!! Not to lessen the terribleness of Flint, but it makes me frustrated that we had to wait for a large (and visible, tbh we have had a lot of environmentally racist problems in the US that didnt get as much nat.l news) injustice like this to happen in the U.S. before a real dialogue around environmental racism and environmental justice was created, but I guess thats the way of things now. Your videos is actually so great. What editing software do you use? V impressive, so well written.

  • What I find most impressive about your videos is the thoroughness and transparency of the sources you use. You must put days of background reading into each one. This videos really do deserve more views than they are getting. Keep going!

  • Want to get even more depressed? Read Kozol's Savage Inequalities. One of the most depressing books I ever read.

  • This was so well explain. I am going to feature this in a class presentation.

  • This was so well explained. It's so true that more money is spent improving rich areas versus the areas that need it most. Well done!

  • Yes. Such a perfect video. Thank you so much!!!

  • Great video!
    For anyone that wants a more comprehensive timeline about the flint water crisis

    I really blame Rick Snyder and his whole policy of cutting budgets no matter the cost to the people who live there (especially if they are people of color and live in the old auto manufacturing centers). That attitude is what was put forward in flint, it is the reasons they switched water sources and did not (despite running tests prior to switching) put the required chemicals into the water to make it safe. It is outrageous that the people who caused this are not facing jail time and that the people of flint are still stuck and being forced to pay for water that they cannot use.

    Another water crisis not that far away was in Toledo, Ohio back in the summer of 2014 when the microcystin levels rose to crazy high levels making the water toxic (boiling made it worse and water filters do not filter it out). Toledo is another low income city that was hit hard by the loss of steal jobs and car jobs. And this environmental disaster will continue to hurt Toledo every summer once the algae blooms start. Toledo's solution to this is to put more chemicals in the water that will get rid of the microcystins. The state of Ohio and Michigan could fix this problem by educating farmers about how much fertilizer to use and when best to use it. But instead Toledoans are now paying more in water bills to fix this problem that it totally preventable.

  • great video! keep preaching.

  • So true….I am from Ohio, have been to MI many times… It would take a lot of love, but still possible to pick back up! <3 Thanks for sharing! New subscriber!

  • This is an absolutely incredible video! So informational, eloquent, beautifully edited and shot. I will be sticking around to see what else you do! great work and keep it up!

  • I feel so much more informed about the situation now. Great information!

  • Ayy you're in Hank's video for like half a second! Also, great video as usual

  • Thank you.

  • How does this video have less than 1000 views?!?!

  • Hi! New subscribee, I loved this video/channel so much I sent it to my professor and it was featured in class. So thanks!

  • I just finished watching all of your videos. Your videos are amazing. Never stop!

  • Nice video, very informative. Definitely a problem that isn't getting the attention it deserves.

  • I'm so surprised you don't have more subscribers. Your videos are wonderful and so informative.

  • I'm from Michigan, and this is a fantastic video, thank you.

  • Fascinating information. And amazing enthusiasm. 🙂

    I doubt anything will ever change, but it's good to know about. It's pretty clear the island nations are done for, and long before the end of the century. Along with people living along the coast in the southeastern USA. There's going to be a lot of moving inland for the next 70 years.

    Regarding power plants. One thing worth exploring is the chicken/egg issue. Were the power plants built in low income areas or did the low income areas build up around the power plants?

    Clearly the situation is messed up in Flint, though. I mostly avoid the news and didn't realize flint was (1) poor and (2) full of black people. The tiny bit of coverage I've noticed only showed white people worried about their health and the amount of money they were paying for poisonous water. I'm guessing the chance of special ed for lead-poisoned black kids is about zero, though. But I'm a cynic.

    Anyway .. for your enthusiasm alone I think I'll search out other of your videos. 🙂

  • You deserve WAY more subscribers. You're amazing!

  • Thanks for this. And all the others.

  • What are you looking at above the camera? An environmental refugee holding up teleprompter cards?

  • Love your videos; great stuff, keep it up. However, as a favour, could you slow down a little; I can't hear that fast.

  • What Flint and the state of Michigan truly needs is to find a way to have the Governor IMPEACHED for the crimes he and his greedy administration has commented to the citizens of this state. Flint is just one of the victims of this man. Do you know a few years back. They turned water off in Detroit because, people had problems paying their bills. Canadians came to Detroit and gave them clean water.
    This state is a mess and thank you for bringing attention to my state.

  • love this channel

    Only just saw this video now tho
    Keep it up with the great, informational content! <3

  • I can't believe this channel has so few subscribers. The videos are so well made.

  • omg what this video is so good you're gonna have to teach me to edit like that holy shit

  • This is amazing. The message, the editing, your awareness of the issue, and your brilliance in expounding on it. Found you through Riley Dennis's video of you two!

  • Thank you. I hope we can work together to end systemic racism. And fix Flint's water crisis, which is still ongoing, and in some ways continues to get worse.

  • Sucky video, but holy moly that editing is freaking amazing

  • this video is AMAZING. What editing software do you use? Your channel deserves millions of views! THANK YOU!

  • Very well done. Environmental Racism is a classic example of inequality of treatment – a result of the disparities we face socially and politically.

  • 4:22

    "Are we still going to be helping and talking about Flint once the water is clean but thousands of kids need customized education?"

    Haha. Water's not even clean yet and we already stopped talking about it

  • That's what decades of democratic mayors and city councils result in

  • look up garbage mountain in india.
    u realise MOST race issues are a western society thing? otherwise its a class or tribe issue. but that doesnt get clicks does it hero?
    Find a better target and or go help a bird or tree. blacks DONT need help from whites living in nice houses feeding of parents and loser utube fans :O
    lemme guess, triggered?
    humans sicken me and your a human 😉

  • you're flopping it so far

  • It is not racism, just not enough whites around to keep things working. Just stop talking and start giving your resources to the "impoverished minorities".

  • you look like a pale young Joe dirt

  • Oh GOD!!!

  • environmental racism is fake

  • I agree with the fact that those politicians are assholes but I feel like it would have taken just as long if it was a well of white neighborhood. Politicians are politicians and don't give a shit about people they only care about money or getting what THEY want.

  • even tho i dont believe in environmental racism. you explain it way better than AJ+

  • This situation is not racism. This is simply a downside of living in metropolitan areas.

  • Racism is a bit reaching unless you provide more evidence. Katrina seems more accurate. I just think this country doesn't care about poor people.

  • I thought you was a dude

  • Flint was the fault of the government which was run by democrats. This isn't racism, it's just greed. White peoples were affected by this too

  • if blacks, whites, and everyone is affected then how is that racist

  • I live by flint and I understand the government made a big mistake but it wasn't a racial thing white and black kids got affected, also black people tend to be more poor and live in this ares due to "bad decisons" I'm not saying they all do bad stuff, also white people get affected by the bad environment, so I don't understand how all this is a racial thing…. Please respond I wanna talk more on this topic

  • This isn't about racism, it's socioeconomics. Land and homes near sewage facilities, and waste treatment centers tend to be cheaper than clean neighborhoods. You buy what you can afford regardless of race. To say that environmental racism exist shows how ignorant you are. Are we gonna say next that food is racist because people of lower income can't afford organic items? Your argument is so invalid

  • Except: there is one problem there. Flint, like Detroit, is run by the Democrats.

  • Young lady – I must say – you did an Incredible job with this Video!!! You brought forth to the general population on YouTube a Crisis that is really Horrible. I am watching this because of a crowd funding campaign called Project for Awesome 2017 (P4A). It was run by these 2 Brothers that are brilliant – and produce Amazing educational content – and one of them has written Incredibly popular books!
    I backed the campaign because my son asked me to do it for him – and my son is Incredibly Gifted and Brilliant, and this is not me being just a proud Dad and bragging – since he has worked this past summer as an Intern at a National Lab, working with a Physicist on proof for particular Atoms – and he developed Python programs as part of the work for data analysis. In the end, this P4A campaign had as one of its rewards – a guy who listed his Top 25 Favorite videos – and yours is One of them. Am sure this will also help get you a Lot more views of your Video!

    So – again – GREAT Job and Good luck with your videos and helping to Influence Humanity!

  • this is such an incredibly well scripted and edited video on a very serious and complicated subject. thank you so much

  • You're A Great Credit To Our Future . . Too Bad You're So Outnumbered By Cavemen in The Congress and Senate

  • Seems more like a socio-economic issue than just strictly a race issue

  • I'm currently doing a thing where I pay to have trash removed from the Ocean for every so many subscribers I get. If you give me permission I'll post a link.

  • Seems you didn't learn your lesson after your crash course fiasco.

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