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The Poor of Flint Were Left Under the Cover of Darkness


The Poor of Flint Were Left Under the Cover of Darkness

Leonard Pitts Jr.

“Them that’s got shall get. Them that’s not shall lose” —Billie Holiday

It was in April of 2014 that the water turned bad. Residents of Flint, Mich., reported that the stuff smelled. It was yellowish brown. You drank it and your hair fell out. Or you developed a rash. Or you were nauseous..

Again, this was in April.


And it is not until this week that yours truly is writing about it.

Laudably, Pitts includes himself among those who have, for whatever reason, shrouded the plight of "the least of these" in darkness. Acknowledging one's own mistakes is the first step toward revolutionary change.


Thank you for quoting that amazing Billie Holiday tune. Its lyrics remain poignant.

Back in l990, like other aspiring writers with vision, I penned a portrait of the world's future... set for the target date of 2020. Implied in that date was a balanced vision, meaning the left brain and right brain which reciprocally relate to Yin and Yang would cooperate and life would reflect far wiser values and consequent forms of stewardship.

One of the protocols in my story was that a time came when land title HOLDERS became (land and other assets) title GIVERS.

Today, as study after study shows the appalling fact that a relative handful of persons own more wealth than entire nations, more wealth than HALF of living souls... I think it's time that anyone with assets over say $200 million start to give back. They can earn past that sum so long as what's earned is recycled back into "the commons" to serve The Greater Good.

When amoral souls like the Koch Brothers can use their family fortunes to fund campaigns that lie about global warming and support morons who obtain public office only to cut wages, environmental safeguards, and union rights... then it's time such scoundrels' fortunes were used to offset their long list of would-be illegal acts were ours a functioning Democracy under rule of HONEST law.

In other words, where is the billionaire that would step forward to remedy Detroit's water and thereby save a community of children from lead poisoning and brain damage? Where is the billionaire who understands that for all that cash, he's got a LOTTA karma to work out and a LOTTA explainin' to do... on this plane, or the next one?


No grocery stores? It's bad there but, please you don't have to make things up. There are several in Flint, Kroger being the main name and there is also Meijer (similar in size to Walmart). I visited there a few months ago staying at friends, checked my car in the morning and saw that the rear window was shot out. Not the best community in the world.
PS The Miejer may not be in Flint city proper but I believe at least 2 of the Krogers are.


Exhibit A in the "I'm Okay, You're Okay Do-It-Yourself Psychology of Revolution."

Pay no attention to the growing influence of the Military-Industrial Complex and the dominance of weapons contractors and oil barons in U.S. foreign AND domestic policy.

Pay no attention to all those armed gendarmes now given a legal mandate to spy on civilians' conversations, emails, and habits.

Pay no attention to the increasingly toxic food and water.

Pay no attention to the costs of a higher education, or health CARE (not to be confused with playing head-games with insurance company bureaucrats) access.

Make it about THE individual's naval gazing.


Instead of speaking to the horrors the author exposes, you want to make the issue whether or not he had cause or the opportunity to write about it... before now?


It seems to me that "holders" is not the sine qua non in the "givers" dynamic. In the aggregating of capital, costs are taken out, costs are cut, externalized, etc. so that the increase of the 'take' is essential in order to be a 'holder' that give back.
From equitable remuneration for labor straight through to tax avoidance arguments taking is the scurrilous dynamic as well commonly considered opposite to the the idea of giving. The most recent decades of 'taking' particularly in the supply chains (hint, hint as to the mind set) and in the taking of lands, resources, rendering increasing aspects of life 'sacrifice zones'- a particularly barbaric mode of 'taking' based on the solipsistic arguments of a system perpetually dependent on deeper and more extractive forms of taking, is particularly emblematic in the case of Flint. Lessons of empire not only not learned but apparently oblivious of lessons existing.
Some laughter along the way can help...

I do like your closing paragraph on the karma question. It strikes me as a timely indicator pointing at the breadth of communities becoming increasingly wise to the benefits of refining the documentation alliances and speaking in unified voices across all sorts of falsely imposed notions of schisms.
Bring on the tipping points and the rebalancing of the scales.


Bill Thomas Halo Burgers is still there. Don't know about the Varsity Carfeteria where we'd go for peanut butter malts.


I believe we live multiple lifetimes.

I don't believe that all persons are alike

Some people have specific endowments of talent, and typically, these are the fruit of efforts cultivated in earlier incarnations.

I preface my comment in this manner to suggest that EVEN if a society gave total equal sums to each member, a Bell Curve formation would eventually show up.

Some people are savvy at certain things, others remarkably talented at others. And then there are some who are pretty average types.

I have no problem with that Bell Curve applied to financial logistics. I think it's natural for some to have a little less and others a little more... but what is profoundly OFF the charts and beyond the formation of any Bell Curve is the actual fact that currently about 200 families own more than do half the world's people.

THAT is the problem. We can call it by all sorts of terms. It is what it is.

This problem didn't arrive by accident or caprice. It was orchestrated by elites and the derivatives and swaps scam unleashed after the wall signified by Glass Steagall came down.

The vast levels of inequity need to be remedied. NOW!


Yeah, I really found that comment about no grocery store in all of Flint rather odd...


Knowledge begins and ends with self-knowledge, the source of empowerment. Pitts does not distract from the culpability of tyrants when he acknowledges his own failure. To the contrary, we free ourselves from tyranny to the extent we recognize and reverse the little victories of tyrants in our own consciousness.

Those who are entirely blameless, incapable of introspection, have no hope of escaping tyranny, and no role to play in the revolution.


Speaking of "cover of darkness"....just how may Flint residents (and others receiving the Flint River water) were made aware of the change of water source or given the opportunity to voice their thoughts/opinions on the proposed change? I would venture to guess that NOT a one. The officials overseeing the change did so in the darkest reaches of their minds, the basements of their offices, and right next to the gates of Haedes. It's just poor black folks, after all...and that thinking though not voiced is sickening. Pure evil at work.


"Family Fun Night & Lead Testing" = activity announcement billboard outside Eisenhower Elementary Community School in Flint, Michigan.
(Just saw that on MSNBC's crisis update. Flint has 1,600 miles of water mains; how much of these will have to be replaced remains to be seen. If all, cost would be in billions of dollars.)

You may be ascribing an evil motive where none exists.
No, I do not deny that racism exists in America. Today, racial issues have a lot to do with the instances of police brutality, and police shootings, and the tilting of the scales of justice in the favor of whites, and in opposition to blacks and other identifiable minorities. Beyond race, the scales of justice are tipped further in favor of the wealthier classes, and in opposition to the poorer classes no matter their racial heritage.
Yes, I can testify that race was used in Flint in the past to create a schism between working class whites and working class blacks. I grew up in and Flint and attended the public schools there straight thru my high school graduation. It wasn't something found in the school system exclusively. It was a constituent component of the American culture of the times. The same strategy was used throughout the industrial north that is now identified as "Rustbelt."
In terms of the Flint crisis, it's my guess it has less to do with race, and more to do with ongoing policies being used to transfer the wealth belonging to the middle class, the working class, and the poor "class" of America, upward into the hands of the wealthiest amongst us.
In the case of predator species in the wild, predators go after the young, the elderly, the weak member of a herd. They're the easiest to pick off. In America over the course of the recent past we've witnessed how our politicians have been working to establish policies that do the same thing. By cutting the benefits provided by society to the young, the elderly, the victims of illness and injury, they have a bigger pie left to hand out to the wealthy, corporations, the military/industrial/prison industry, executives, and special interest groups.
Flint happens to be a community that's been written off by the larger society. There's not much news that comes out of Flint that reaches the national news media. IMO, the right wing government of Michigan looks upon Flint as easy pickings that can't do much to stop the economic abuse that gets heaped upon its Residents. It's not so much that Flint has a lot of black residents that can be mistreated. It looks to me like the republican governor and his cronies look upon the souls living in Flint as easy prey that can do little to protect themselves from the looting.
I just read some biographical stuff about Governor Snyder last night. Wasn't aware he's a Certified Public Accountant. That's not surprising; just fitting.