On this episode, Kumars and Roqayah speak with Melissa Mays, a resident of Flint, Michigan and mother of three who founded Water You Fighting For, a grassroots organization dedicated to spreading awareness of the Flint water crisis and fighting for justice for the residents of Flint. For nearly three years, the residents of Flint, Michigan, have had contaminated water running through their faucets, tainted by lead and other dangerous pollutants since the city started drawing its water from the polluted Flint River in April of 2014. Since then, the people of Flint have been forced to rely on bottled water for everything from drinking to cooking. To date, as many as 12,000 children in Flint have been exposed to high levels of lead.
Melissa tells us about the serious health consequences she and her family have dealt with as a result of using their own tap water. She describes how Michigan’s emergency manager law allowed an un-elected bureaucrat to switch Flint’s water source, and how a $150-a-day corrosion control method was eliminated, causing $1.5 billion in damage to infrastructure alongside immeasurable damage to the health of Flint residents. She also talks about the role of the state and federal governments in covering up the true extent of the crisis.
We also ask Melissa how she went from being a music promoter with no activism experience to being the leader of a social justice organization. We talk about how race and class have impacted both the government’s response to the crisis, as well as her organizing work. She gives tips for people who are considering organizing around water quality and access in their own communities, as well as advice for how to connect with organizers in other cities doing this work.
You can find Melissa on twitter at @FlintGate.