I was about to go live on The Young Turks’ Facebook page from Woodside Church in Flint and was a little nervous as the seats were only half full.
A few days earlier, I’d hastily come up with the idea to host a real town hall in Flint—unlike the scripted nonsense CNN put on the screen during the campaign with viewers asking questions either written by or censored by elitist coastal producers.
As much as I felt my several reporting trips to Flint up to that point had moved the needle on exposing the government-made crisis that had gone on for three years (with the tentacles of corruption reaching back for decades), it was clear to me that this was still very much an emergency. And the majority of Americans were clueless as to what the residents in Flint were still dealing with.
Personal experiences off the road and at home in New York confirmed this. Friends and family would ask me which stories I was working on and where I planned on going next, and I'd always answer, “Flint.”
"That's still not fixed over there?" was the general response I'd get from well-intentioned, but clueless, folks on the East Coast. And why would they think otherwise? Flint had been out of the national press for over a year by that point, replaced by missing planes and Trump TV. Occasionally, you'd see a short story or segment about the criminal investigation into the Flint water crisis but very little about the water still being undrinkable or unusable—Not to mention the stacked up medical bills, sky-high (poison) water bills, and cover-ups galore out of the state capitol and city hall.
To add insult to injury: residents were now facing the threat of tax liens on their homes or forced evictions for unpaid poison water bills.
The disconnect between the rest of America and Flint—made possible by the media turning a blind eye to genocide—dug at me the more time I spent in Flint. When you're the only one staying on a story, going back time after time, speaking to some residents dozens of times, it becomes personal. What happened to the residents of Flint didn't affect me as an outsider, but I was angry on their behalf, and I wasn't going to stop digging—I couldn't. I felt it was my responsibility to make sure the rest of the world knew this was still a crisis even though the "journalists" in brightly lit studios reading robotically from the teleprompter didn't give a fuck about it.
So, I decided to invite all of Flint to this hastily organized but resident-led town hall, so they could take back the microphone...
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