In several cities across the United States, residents suffer from a total neglect of water systems and government failures to provide access to perhaps the most important resource.
On 28 July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly recognized that “the right to safe, clean drinking water and sanitation is an essential human right for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.” But 12 years later, this human right is still out of reach for millions of people around the world, especially in the global South. Even in the United States, which has the world’s largest gross domestic product, poor working-class people, especially black and brown people, are denied this basic right. In several cities across the United States, residents suffer from a total neglect of water systems and government failures to provide access to perhaps the most important resource.
The fight for water is the fight against racism
Denise Diaz, a resident of the social housing project Jacob Leith House in New York City’s East Village, underwent a preliminary test after experiencing nausea, diarrhea, dizziness and migraines in late August and early September. had been exposed to
As early as August 4, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) was alerted to turbid water conditions at the Jacob Riis public estate. Evidently he tested the water for E. coli and chlorine more than a week later, and on August 16th he announced that the water was safe for drinking. However, after 11:00 p.m. on Sept. 2, NYCHA revealed that the water supply contained arsenic. According to an article in city and statethe city said officials knew about the arsenic two weeks ago.
Diaz called New York “the greatest city in the world,” and local politicians were criticized for the quality of life issues between majority and minority neighborhoods like his own and the predominantly affluent neighborhoods. I explained my frustration with the double standards that I feel allow me to stick to them. white residential area. “Imagine,” he said. Suppose a resident of “5th Avenue, Soho, Williamsburg,” Manhattan, Brooklyn, discovers arsenic in his water. “Maybe the outcome would have been different for them. But for minorities in my community, we’re doing very little to politicians.” Forty percent of household heads living in public housing under the Program were black, and 48 percent had Latin American ancestry.
New York City now denies that Jacob Riis’ water contained arsenic, claiming that samples taken by this testing method “contaminated trace levels of arsenic.” But Dennis Diaz, who recently received blood test results showing low levels of arsenic, is not convinced. rice field. “They did it in Flint, Michigan and lied there [the residents] Many years. You can’t believe these people. ”
Since the inception of NYCHA in 1934, New York City’s public housing has fallen into disrepair as the federal government drastically cut funding for public housing in the 2000s. In 2018, 400,000 tenants sued his NYCHA for poor terms. Also in 2018, then-Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Berman accused NYCHA of violating health and safety, exposing children to lead paint, and urging NYCHA workers to “cheat” federal inspectors. was accused of training in
Baltimore tested positive for E. coli on September 5 in waters west of the city. Areas affected included the Harlem Park/Sandtown-Winchester area. Officials have advised residents of these areas to boil the water before use as it is contaminated.
By September 6th, the “boiling water advisory” had reached West Baltimore and surrounding southwestern Baltimore County. The Sandtown-Winchester/Harlem Park neighborhood is 96.7% black and the city of Baltimore is 62.8% black. The district also has a history of police brutality. In 2015, Freddie Gray died of injuries sustained in police custody after being arrested in the area. In 2017, Harlem Park was cordoned off by police for nearly a week after a detective was murdered before he could testify in court against other officers. Some organizations questioned whether this action by police was legal.
Baltimore resident Rachel Biqueira was located in the boiling water advisory zone. “While facing decades of underinvestment and neglect, these communities are simultaneously facing increased racist police violence and surveillance,” she said.2020 In 2018, Baltimore raised $22 million from its police budget in response to mass public protests over the death of George Floyd. But in 2021, the city of Baltimore increased its police funding by $28 million. This not only offset the decline in 2020, but also added another $8 million to the police budget.
“Baltimore and many other cities have ballooned police budgets at the expense of public investment in infrastructure, health, jobs, housing and education,” Viqueira said.
From July 29th to September 15th there was a notice of boiling water in Jackson, Mississippi. From August 30 through September 5, many of his more than 150,000 residents in Jackson had no running water, and public spaces such as schools had no sinks or toilets. Water pressure is now restored, but the water remains polluted.
“This is a reality Jackson has faced for a very long time,” said Delica Watts, who was part of the student group’s Jackson Water Crisis Advocacy Team and distributed water to Jackson residents. , I remember always hearing my mother say, “Oh, I have a notice to boil water this week, so please don’t use it.” [straight from the tap].”
Jackson is 82.5% black, and the water crisis is just the latest in a series of failures in the city’s underfunded water system. The water crisis has its roots in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the immediate aftermath of school desegregation in Jackson. After desegregation, white residents left the city en masse. Between 1960 and 1990, the white population living in Jackson decreased by 6,000. White secession meant that white residents, who were wealthier than the descendants of historically enslaved blacks, would no longer make up a large portion of the city’s funding tax base.
Instead of finding concrete solutions to address the water crisis stemming from systemic racism, both the City of Jackson and the state of Mississippi should privatize the city’s water supply following the crisis. Local activist Bezal Jupiter said, “We’ve already seen that the privatization of the Texas power grid means massive heat cuts in the middle of winter storms. “People lost power, people froze, some died. [as many as 246]Do you want the same future for the Jackson water system?”
endless water crisis
The predominantly black city of Flint, Michigan, made headlines in 2016 when it was revealed that the state government covered up for two years the fact that residents were being actively poisoned by lead in the water supply. became. Six years later, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy said the amount of lead in water complied with state and federal standards, but scientists said the amount of lead in water was unsafe. claim. And he said as of April 2022, the government had yet to replace 1,800 lead pipes.
“[Governments] Goodman, Hurwitz & James Attorney Mitchell Bonga, who filed the class action lawsuit, said: A lawsuit against former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for his role in the Flint Crisis.
“They could do it all along”
Neighboring city of Detroit is also mostly black, with many low-income earners, and residents who cannot afford to pay their water bills are suffering from water outages. “People can’t pay their water bills [in Detroit]said Taron Combs, a local activist and Detroit resident. “People sometimes owe the city hundreds of dollars for their water bills. When the water is cut off, it’s clearly a public health crisis.”
The city has imposed a moratorium on water cuts due to the pandemic, extending it until 2022. However, the mayor has announced his intention to end the water cutoff “on and off,” but the moratorium will expire at the end of the year. “They actually [shut-offs] Pause because of a pandemic that has exposed one of the contradictions of capitalism,” Combs said. “They’ve been doing it all along and could have given people access to clean water.
“[People] Either you can’t afford water, or the water is dirty when you can. they can’t get food. And this is not a state unique to Detroit. This is true in any major black city in the country…obviously it’s environmental racism,” Combs said.