STARRED REVIEW
July 2018

A crisis caused by a thousand cuts

By Anna Clark

Make no mistake: The water crisis that has plagued the people of Flint, Michigan, is not the result of a single decision. Rather, it is the disastrous culmination of state government dysfunction, decades of enforced housing segregation and the meteoric rise and fall of the American automobile industry.

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Make no mistake: The water crisis that has plagued the people of Flint, Michigan, is not the result of a single decision. Rather, it is the disastrous culmination of state government dysfunction, decades of enforced housing segregation and the meteoric rise and fall of the American automobile industry.

In April of 2014, Flint residents discovered that the water pouring from their faucets was not only undrinkable but also downright toxic. Due to a recent switch in the city’s water supply, Flint’s lead pipes corroded. Initial reports from horrified Flint citizens were largely ignored. By the time the state of Michigan admitted to its mistake, 12 people had died and Flint’s children had been exposed to irrevocable harm. Anna Clark, a journalist and regular contributor to the Detroit Free Press, recounts the tangled series of events that eventually led to the city’s poisoned water supply in The Poisoned City. Clark avoids sanctimonious judgments, but she isn’t afraid to painstakingly show how racism and state-sanctioned white supremacy shaped the socioeconomic policies of Flint.

Flint’s water crisis extends beyond an environmental disaster; it’s a public health and civil rights issue. In a way, it was by design that Flint’s communities of color were hit hardest. Unfortunately, the narrative surrounding Flint’s poisoned water is not an anomaly. For Clark, it’s a reflection of America’s tradition of inequality—the nation’s foundations are structured at the expense of the vulnerable and marginalized. Ultimately, the story of Flint’s water crisis echoes throughout countless American cities.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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The Poisoned City

The Poisoned City

By Anna Clark
Metropolitan
ISBN 9781250125149

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