I promised that I would blog about Flint’s water crisis and here it is. It’s going to be long, ugly and at times controversial. So, if you came here for a light-hearted post or are easily offended, I promise not to get angry if you decide to leave now.
Now, that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about Flint, shall we? The water crisis isn’t the first problem that has occurred in Flint. It’s been a boil that’s been festering for years now and finally burst. It was loud enough that it finally caught the world’s attention. I say that the world should have been looking into Flint’s problems years ago.
Decades of political corruption, racism and a declining economy have wreaked havoc on a once great and proud city. First, we had GM pull out of Flint. That left behind countless unemployed. Real estate value dropped, business that had been in the city forever closed their doors, the schools became neglected. Worse of all, we forgot that the city is full of people. People who are living, breathing and feeling, just like the rest of us. In short, people whose lives matter just as much as those in Bloomfield Hills and Rochester, the more wealthy cities in Michigan.
I never truly realized the scope of the problems until I became a paramedic. I was assigned to Flint. It was a happy time for me. I thought that I could make a difference. I was going to go in there and make a change. Help out the poor and lift up their spirits.
What a stupid, white, privileged woman I was. It wasn’t until I held the hand of a grandmother, who was weeping, that I saw how wrong I was. She had been beaten by her own grandson, because she’d refused to let him sell drugs from her home. All I could do was pray with her, for that is what she requested.
Then there was the time I went to a home of a poor, white family. Their baby was having an asthma attack. The home was filled with cigarette smoke. They didn’t even realize that they were adding to the problem, because the hospital lacked the funds to teach them about such things. Now, I know that some of you are saying that was just a common sense thing, but they really didn’t know that simple fact.
Or I could tell you about the numerous pregnant women I picked up. When they hopped into the back of my rig and I asked them why they called, I was told they needed to have a simple pregnancy checkup. Why did they call us? Because the hospital was their only option for free prenatal care.
Then, just when I thought that things couldn’t get worse, they did. The city closed two of their four hospitals. They told the public that they were consolidating them into one bigger hospital in Grand Blanc. All of us in the EMS community knew that was bullshit. All four of the hospitals were filled to their capacity. On weekends, some patients even had to lay on cots lining the hallways of the ER. There was no way that they could drive to Grand Blanc. Even if they did, none of their family members could afford to come and be with them.
So, once again the city officials did what they did best, offer the people of Flint false hopes and straight-out lies. Sorry if I sound a bit bitter about this, but watching a once beautiful city turn to shit over the past two decades has left me mad.
The citizens of Flint don’t stand a chance from the moment they are born. They aren’t given good medical care as children. From day one, their school system is below standards. Do you know that some students graduate from high school, yet they can’t even read?
So, what does the higher government do about all this? They continue to close their eyes and turn their backs to these people. So I guess it is left up to individuals like you and me to take up the fight.
We must fight for the prosecution of these corrupt officials. Demand better education and medical standards for Flint youth. Most of all, we must continue to fight for equality of all Americans.