While Governor Rick Snyder debuted the Flint Water Crisis in 2014, celebrity, Jaden Smith, plans to end it in 2019. After almost five years, people have began to realize that it’s going to take more than just bulk water bottle packs from Costco to solve the issue.
Prior to 2014, residents of Flint, Michigan drank water from the sufficiently-filtered Lake Huron. However, when the Michigan state government intervened in 2011 with cost-cutting measures due to Flint’s financial deficit, clean water was traded for the less expensive, lead-heavy liquid of the Flint River. Governor Rick Snyder decided it best to appoint emergency financial managers, Darnell Earley and Gerald Ambrose, who were told to “simply do one thing and one thing only, and that’s cut the budget — at any cost.” Unfortunately for the 97,000 citizens of Flint, that cost came in the form of a water-based, lead-poisoning epidemic.
Now after five years, Michigan state government officials contradict the brown water sputtering out of Flint’s faucets by claiming that the Water Crisis has concluded. The fact that, in 2018, one resident’s water was contaminated by 397 parts per billion lead when the federal limit is 15 ppb stands as another telling factor of the ongoing epidemic that the state government seems to continuously deem unimportant.
Nevertheless, while the American government failed to clean up their own mess, an American icon answered Flint, Michigan’s desperate cry for help. 20-year-old rapper and co-founder of JUST Water, Jaden Smith, partnered with the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church to deploy a mobile water treatment system. The system, located in the church, serves as a filling station for the general public to fill as large of a water container as they can carry. Along with his parents, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Jaden Smith has promised to continuously work towards finding sustainable water treatment solutions for the city.
“I remember when I met Jada Pinkett Smith and she said, ‘We are not going to forget about Flint’, that was right after we declared the emergency, and they haven’t,” Flint’s Mayor, Karen Weaver, said.
At a time when water bottle donations are at a decline, celebrities, Jaden, Will, and Jada Pinkett Smith, are among the few that have not forgotten Flint, Michigan’s dire need for clean water.
This is as telling about the Smith family’s character as it is about the state’s negligence of the Vehicle City’s needs. While the Smiths realize the ongoing need for clean water, Michigan has decided to tell everyone that the Flint River’s water has become miraculously clean again. While the state may be charging the two emergency financial managers for the Crisis, replacing some pipelines around the city, and drinking the Flint River water on live television, confidence in the government fails to be restored in residents.
“The trust is gone for everybody,” Flint resident, Kaleka Lewis Harris said in an interview with NPR.
The Michigan state government needs more Jaden Smith’s and less Governor Snyder’s for Flint, Michigan’s water quality, health, and trust to be restored.