Featured artwork courtesy of Yarrow Slaps (@yarrowslaps)

The state of Michigan has faced a lot of criticism over the past few weeks, as the ongoing toxic water crisis in Flint revealed a catastrophic environmental disaster with fatal consequences. It shed light on another troubling fact as well: the US no longer an actual democracy.

A new water pipeline was installed to provide the city’s water from Lake Huron to Genesee county, where Flint is located. Though the government has been getting water from Detroit for past 50 years, they ended the longtime contract because the city was restructuring their water system. However, the state still wanted to keep selling water to Flint, so under the direct command of emergency manager Ed Kurtz and city chief financial officer Jerry Ambrose, they agreed to the pipeline and made a deal to save $5 million in 2 years by using the Flint river as their main water source. Then the state made a decision to stop adding corrosion control chemicals that Detroit continually applied, which is basically biofilm that builds up and adheres lead particles, keeping them from getting into the water. But much of the biofilm was destroyed, and high levels of lead reached civilian homes, which directly resulted in people getting lead poisoning throughout the city of Flint. Lead poisoning of an estimated 9,000 children is irreversible, and can cause permanent learning disabilities and developmental/behavioral issues. The contaminated water also affects pregnant women, as it can be transmitted generationally. Ten people have also died as a result of Legionnaire’s Disease in Flint since the switch took place, and 87 more have been rendered gravely ill.

With Flint’s poverty rate of 40 percent, one of the things that really pushed them over the edge was the cutback in revenue sharing, which is a term for when states provide extra money for municipal government funding. The decision was made in order to give a tax break to corporations, so local departments can fit in nicely with the subjective, backwards algorithm they developed to infiltrate systems of government. This is basically the same as putting a new manager in McDonalds, what with no accountability to anyone aside from governor Snyder. The ones responsible are accountable to nobody other than the man who appointed all these ill-bred monkeys, rather than to the citizens they should be serving. The Flint water crisis  represents more than just garden-variety incompetence, it’s an instance of blatant lying by the department of environmental quality, with keeping no independent oversight, insuring that the right to democracy is taken away.

Photo from a pre-planned “Sick Out” teacher strike in Detroit, where a financial crisis and ailing infrastructure has caused unsustainable conditions for both faculty and students alike.

But developments are reaching the city of Flint outside its own city walls, as the Muslim community from the neighboring city, Dearborn has collected over 30,000 water bottles for the Red Cross through an organization called “Who is Hussain?” Organizer Dr. Aziza Asakari stated that, “We saw what needed to be done and we decided to do it. We reached out to schools, neighbors, friends, mosques, anyone and everyone to help us by donating a case of water, or money towards a case.” Even after Snyder closed his doors and denied aid to Syrian refugees after the Paris attacks, American Muslims are showing him that as residents of Detroit, this is not only a Flint problem, but a Michigan problem. Not only did they show the people of Flint the compassion and care that Snyder should have shown for the people he ostensibly represents, but also demonstrating a side of Muslim values that the media rarely shows.

However, efforts aren’t just reaching the city within state lines, but also from some of our favorite hi- hop artists from all over the US. Detroit native and R&B singer Kem donated $10,000 to the Salvation Army in Genesee County towards relief efforts this past Tuesday morning at the nonprofit organization’s site in Mt. Morris Township. Another Detroit native, rapper Big Sean, made a $10,000 donation, following the success of his online fundraising effort in connection with the Community Foundation of Greater Flint which has raised more than $20,000. As a result, DJ Mustard pledged to match Big Sean’s $10,000 through the Heal Flint Kids fundraiser, stating, “Shout out to Big Sean for starting this viral campaign. I hope my donation can encourage others to step up for an important cause.” Meek Mill also followed up this strategy by challenging rapper 50 Cent to match his donation of 60,000 bottles with Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, as well as providing money to the Flint Child and Family Health Development Fund, in order to keep their on-going beef and its momentum going in a more positive direction. And on a more mainstream note, Diddy, and his AQUAhydrate partner, Mark Wahlberg, have teamed up to donate one million water bottles to the inflicted local residents, with Detroit native Eminem and rapper Wiz Khalifa joining the corporate cause. However, it was rapper The Game who made it his personal agenda to ask others to match his $1,000,000 donation through his Robin Hood Project, calling out contributions from noted celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Madonna as “cute but not nearly enough” during a moment of federal crisis.

The bottom line is that the Michigan governor continued to poison citizens for a long period of time while facing criticism from the public, and even Kurtz stated multiple times that Detroit kicked them out of their longterm contract. But it was only in order to cover up the fact that Snyder appointees’ motives were purely financial and with a conflict of interest. Though much of the obvious blame is going towards Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the state’s extreme financial stress, critics state that the tipping point was the law being applied as one exception of Africans Americans. Citizens are specifically calling Snyder out for “knowingly poisoning a black city,” declaring the action a “racial killing.” In the face of such a crisis, it’s difficult to see how the US can be called a democracy, as it seems that economic elites and organized business interests have significant independent impacts on US government policies, while majority-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Though when a majority of citizens disagrees with organized interests, they generally lose, I have hope that this federal emergency will be brought to the public’s attention and bring more support for Michigan’s sake, not only bringing people together to just donate water, but also join the state in revolt.

Originally from Korea, Emily Choi is a now a longtime Los Angeles resident and FRANK151 contributor. You may recognize her work if you’re searching for trending topics or cultural deconstructions, all from a voice much larger than her frame. Tackling topics on socio-economic policies, cultures, and idiosyncrasies, Choi is here to deliver you the truth without all the run-around and sugar-coated fluff.