Socialist Worker

Flint is harrowing to watch—but there is also hope

by Gabby Thorpe
Issue No. 2733

Flint resident Nakia Wakes in her home, where she has stored bottled water for her family

Flint resident Nakia Wakes in her home, where she has stored bottled water for her family (Pic: Anthony Baxter)


Anthony Baxter’s documentary Flint, about the 2015 water crisis in Flint, Michigan, is a disturbing and eye opening watch.

In 2014, Michigan’s state government decided to cut costs by redirecting Flint’s water source from Lake Huron to the river Flint. Instantly residents started suffering from outbreaks of rashes and other medical issues.

Flint’s water plant insisted that the water was safe to drink and bathe in. But testing revealed staggering levels of lead contamination.

The effects of the lead poisoning on Flint’s children may not be apparent for years. And the number of stillbirths and miscarriages in the city have risen sharply.

The documentary follows Flint residents as they fight for safe water and justice. It’s harrowing. Most shocking of all is the corruption of scientists who initially exposed the crisis.

But Flint is a timely reminder of the failures of capitalism. The crisis followed the closure of General Motors plants in Flint—leading to thousands of job losses. Flint’s economic crisis has left many of its residents devastated by poverty.

As Americans celebrate the removal of Donald Trump from office, Flint reminds us that the fight is far from over. No matter who is in office, working class people suffer.

But the documentary celebrates the power of people taking on the system. Campaigns run by residents mean that Flint is now closer to having clean drinking water.

The damage done by lead contamination can’t be reversed. But people are fighting so that future generations won’t suffer the same fate.

Everyone should see Flint and be shocked. But it should also serve as inspiration.

Flint is on BBC Scotland, 10pm Tuesday 1 December and then on BBC IPlayer

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