Friday, May 06, 2016

Flint and Heroism

A young black female child Mari Copeny (who is a great person) wrote a letter to President Barack Obama to come into Flint, Michigan. Soon, the President came into Flint, Michigan on Wednesday, May 4, 2016. He spoke in Flint before an audience of about 1,000 people at Northwestern High School. He did show arrogance and contempt of the truth. Such acts are common among his administration and the corporate elite who executes reactionary policies toward working people, who are suffering from the devastating effects of lead in their drinking water. The President wasn’t alone there. He was with many state and federal officials, who even oversaw the disaster, like Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, and Democratic Congressmen and Senators. The President issued promises and platitudes. He noted many certain symptoms of the social crisis in America (like crumbling roads and bridges, aging water pipelines, failing public schools, etc.) without acknowledging the role of his administration in presiding over this disaster. There are pallets of bottled water standing in a lot across the street from the venue of President Obama’s speech. The President urged the people of Flint to resume drinking the city’s water. Yet, test results showing the persistence of dangerous amounts of lead. He also dismissed the serious short and long term effects of the poisoning of Flint children by lead-tainted water by him saying, “The kids will be just fine.” President Obama cited the spurious example of children accidently chewing on lead flakes from paint. He noted that perhaps he had ingested lead as a child. Obama also urged Flint residents to begin drinking the water again, which in many areas is brown and still contains high levels of lead. At one point in his remarks he asked for and drank a glass of filtered water, while proclaiming, “This is not a stunt.” This is a disgraceful conduct from the President. LeeAnne Walters, an activist whose actions played a pivotal role in exposing the lead poisoning of Flint’s water, walked out of the event along with her husband. She said that: “Obama’s speech was a complete atrocity. To sit there and tell a city of 100,000 that lead poisoning from drinking water compares to Obama eating paint chips as a kid is incredible. To compare drinking lead poisoned water to paint chips is like comparing apples to toxic waste. We were devastated. We were told our kids don’t matter—not just my kids, but all the children here. We’re talking about the long-term effects…He told us to drink the water. That means the programs for filters and bottled water will stop.”

We see the increase of the class struggle in Michigan that coincided with the visit of the President in Flint. There have been protests led by teachers in nearby Detroit, Michigan over the intolerable conditions in classrooms and attempts by authorities to rob them of pay. This also comes with the start of mass water shutoffs in Detroit for households with “delinquent” bills. There were many Flint residents waiting for the Obama motorcade. Some people held up signs that wanted the federal government to help the city. Many people are angry over the sluggish repairing of Flint’s water system, which barely begun. There are estimates of repairing Flint’s antiquated piping system as high as $1.5 billion. Many Democrats in Congress have advanced proposals of a few hundred millions of dollars at most to handle repairing the pipes. The President made vague promising in fixing Flint’s pipes, specifying no concrete dollar figure. The President touted the work of non-profits, charities, and philanthropists in providing assistance to Flint residents. He even cited approvingly the $2,500 raised by a group of prisoners in Indiana. There is a massive cover up of the criminal responsibility of government officials at all levels of the disaster. He made a point at the beginning of the speech of noting the presence of Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and chastising those who responded by booing. “We’re doing business here,” Obama said. President Barack Obama blamed the crisis on “poor decisions” claiming that no one “consciously wanted to hurt the people of Flint.” Instead, officials simply “weren’t attentive to potential problems” when acting under budgetary pressures. “This is not to sort out every screw-up that resulted in contaminated water.” We know that to be false. Officials didn’t just make “poor decisions.”

The people involved in this crisis actively conspired to ensure that the water source was switched to the Flint River, despite ample warnings of the consequences. There are documents that show that state environmental officials altered reports in order to minimize the dangers of lead in Flint’s drinking water. When residents began to complain of the contaminated water, local, state, and federal officials worked to discredit these complaints and cover up their responsibility. The federal Environmental Protection Agency moved to isolate and silence Miguel Del Toral, an EPA official, who warned of elevated lead levels. He said that the city was not using corrosion control. The agency regularly allows cities throughout the country to violate the government’s own standards. Both Democratic and Republican officials were involved in the decision to shift Flint’s water supply to the polluted Flint River. This included former Democratic State Treasurer Andy Dillon who signed off on the decision to shift the Flint water supply. The water is still not safe to drink. The crisis in Flint is part of a large crisis started by decades of budget cuts, deindustrialization, the elimination of regulations on corporations and growing social inequality. High lead levels are found in cities across America. The historic home of General Motors has been polluted and abandoned by the auto companies. It has a child poverty rate of over 40 percent. The 2008 financial crisis, to the BP oil spill, to the General Motors recall, etc. are just some of the many crimes committed by the government, banks and major corporations. Basic social services are being starved for funds while the Obama administration lavishes countless billions on the Pentagon war machine and handouts to America’s wealthy elite. People in Flint want real change, assistance from the federal government to recover, and to allow people to speak up plus stand. No one should be silent on this issue. Folks should have their voices heard.

The prom is one of the most exciting, joyful times of a young person's life. It deals with fun, love, camaraderie, and celebration. Sister Tayja Jones is beautiful. Unfortunately, we have intolerant, cowardly people who make it their business to harass, slander, and disrespect human beings in an offensive way. I do send great respect to people from Kelly Rowland and others who told the truth that Tayja is beautiful and she is entitled to be treated with dignity and with respect. When one member of our community is disrespected, then we are all disrespected. We never tolerate the offensive words sent to an innocent young black female. The words from the haters don't mean a single thing. We believe in honor and integrity. That means that a Sister has every right to go to a prom and celebrate her value and her humanity. We are human beings here and uplifting human decency and sending well wishes to a young student who will fulfill her educational obligations is a blessing. We honor Tayja Jones' courage and her accomplishments in school. We cherish her family and we are in solidarity with her vision for her future (on her terms). Luptia N'yongo expressed a great response to folks in Vogue who are ignorant. Black women have incredible intelligence and they acknowledge their own icons for inspiring them for their hair designs and for their clothing attire. Lupita has always shown wisdom for the ages. Her commitment to excellence is inspiring, her words to define the real meaning of beauty is trailblazing, and her power shines through.

The women in the photograph (who are in West Point) had no malice intention. They wanted to express themselves in mutual solidarity. The raised fists have many meanings from Black Power to human solidarity. The military is strict in its rules and regulations. The policy of the military must be evaluated, so the right resolution can come about. There is absolutely nothing wrong with representing our culture, heritage, and history. I don't feel that the actions of the women merit them to be kicked out of West Point. The question involves military policy and the intention of the women (who wanted to express human solidarity without any malice motives). So, I do wish the best for the women in the photograph. The black woman Tess Asplund is heroic and brave. She confronted racist devils and her strength is powerful. The image shows the power of a black woman. Black women have been slandered and disrespected, but a black woman's worth and dignity are paramount and precious. The white supremacists in Sweden talk about immigration, but they use the immigration issue as a smokescreen for them to advance scapegoating and racial strife. We know who the original, first humans on this Earth are. They were not Caucasians. The first human beings on this Earth are black people. We have an epidemic of fascists in Sweden and in America who hate black people, women, other minorities, etc. Intolerance and bigotry are never solutions to problems. Solutions to problems include compassion, policies of uplift, investments, and other things. I am happy that she was not killed by the racist brutes. It takes courage for her to do what she did. I agree with J.K. Rawling's Tweet.
Sister Tess Asplund is a real activist and a heroic black woman. Bless Sister Tess Asplund.

By Timothy

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