Lessons from a water crisis, an eight-year-old boy and a bunch of high school students
Tackling Racism in My Classroom and My Home
This drawing by high school student Cam Hartley depicts poisoned
water from a hand labeled, "Land of the Free."
|Flint, Michigan. By Nick Gregory|
|Flint distribution site by Nick Gregory|
Trying to describe the situation to my son left me angrier about a system that allows this to happen. Flint is about 60% Black and more than 40% of its residents live in poverty according tot he US Census Bureau. It would be far too simple to claim the Flint Water Crisis is all about race or all about poverty, but those statistics remain a big part of the story. I told Kavaun that this should never happen to anyone, anywhere. He agreed and we drove fifteen miles home trying to make sense of what we had just witnessed.
Teachers Should Influence the Conversation about Racism
“It is not sufficient to view the pumping of contaminated water into the homes of Flint families as an engineering failure.”
A water bottle floats down the Flint River. This was one of the images from
“Perhaps the clearest message of how Flint viewed black people’s 'position' was the one sent by the Bernston Field House public swimming pool. Six days per week the pool was for the use of whites only, while black children were relegated to sprinklers the city would set up across the street.
Blacks were allowed to use the pool only on Wednesdays. Every Wednesday night the pool was completely drained and everything was cleaned, so the facility would again be ready for those who were allowed entry on Thursday morning. The 'necessity' to empty and clean a swimming pool based on the skin color of the previous users was an outright symbol of racism.”
Going there to get there
Protestors at the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing, Mich.
By Nick Gregory
Fortunately, several students in my high school were asking the same question about trust, but there question was about more than Flint. With incredible precision, our talented students brought hundreds of people along with them on a journey to explore racisms grip on our nation.
How can they trust?
Waiting & the Flint River. The man on top is walking away, out of the frame,
as the man sitting by the water waits. By Nick Gregory
|Flint in crisis, by Nick Gregory|
"... have been subjected to unprecedented harm and hardship, much of it caused by structural and systemic discrimination and racism that have corroded your city, your institutions, and your water pipes, for generations."
Help racists get on the road to recovery
Never underestimate the power of ideas. Human beings have incredible capacity to grow.
The racism and hate others have learned is not their burden alone. The hate and baggage others carry is my burden too. It is also your burden. It is the burden our nation has been living with for centuries and acknowledging that truth is an important first step.
A wall built in Detroit to segregate black and white neighbors. This wall was
featured in my photo-essay titled, "Split" that is linked here.
The Water Crisis Through the Eyes of a Child - Flint street art.
By Nick Gregory
A message expressed in street art, Detroit.
By Nick Gregory