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Monday, February 29, 2016

Poor People: Polluted Poisoned Water — “Flint is to Obama What Katrina Was to Bush”

By Bernard Gassaway, Ed.D

President Obama

Nationwide — How sad: Our children [and yes, adults too] are slowly slaughtered and many of us sit still. Some sit still in fear. Others sit still because they have grown apathetic. Some sit still because it is politically expedient. Others sit still because they do not know what to do.

I understand the reality that there is no shortage of tragedies and suffering in the world. Yes, we can find slaughter and suffering in our own backyard. While my backyard is in New York City, I am compelled to turn my attention to Flint, Michigan.

While President Obama sent FEMA to address this slow but sure slaughter of America’s poor, I am dumbfounded that he has not visited Flint to at least symbolically care for the sick and afflicted. In my mind and heart, the helplessness of the people of Flint in 2016 must be similar to the helplessness of the people of New Orleans in 2005. I believe the president’s failure to visit Flint is “inexplicable and inexcusable.”

Why do we exercise selective responses to injustice? If a poor man were shot in the back by a police officer in Flint, protests and riots would likely ensue nationwide.

While we ponder what to do in response to Flint’s public massacre, I pray that we remember what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote while detained in the Birmingham Jail in 1963, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” What happened in Flint can happen in any poor community in America.

As an educator, I pray that business is not happening as usual in public schools in Flint. How can children focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic knowing government officials have poisoned them? I can imagine that in some of the schools, children are asked to stand and pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.

While some people blame President Obama for all of society’s ills, I do not. However, I do strongly suggest that he demonstrate compassion and visit Flint and speak directly to the children. Give them reasons to believe and hope for a brighter and healthier future.

Bernard Gassaway, Ed.D is a former urban high school principal, but currently a leadership coach. For more details, visit www.bernardgassaway.com or send an email to bgassaway1@gmail.com


Bernard Gassaway, Ed.D
@DrGassaway (Twitter)