August 21st, 2019
The Siwatu Freedom team is overjoyed to report the news that Siwatu’s conviction has been reversed — see the full press release here!
Thinking for Ourselves
The images coming out of Newark, New Jersey this week could easily be mistaken for Flint, Michigan. Long lines of people, mostly black and brown, are pictured next to stacks of bottled water. After repeated denials of a water crisis, and inadequate, often chaotic attempts by officials to address it, the city and state are finally acknowledging a systemic, widespread crisis. Lead from aging pipes is leaching into the water of thousands of households, especially in poorer neighborhoods.
The New York Times reported. “A growing crisis over lead contamination in drinking water gripped Newark on Wednesday as tens of thousands of residents were told to drink only bottled water, the culmination of years of neglect that has pushed New Jersey’s largest city to the forefront of an environmental problem afflicting urban areas across the nation.”
Newark and Flint are examples of the problem older cities face in providing the basic sources of life to people. Marc Edwards, the professor from Virginia Tech who helped document the Flint water crisis, estimates that 11 million homes in the U.S. are at risk of dangerous levels of lead contamination.
Access to safe, affordable drinking water is a global crisis, intensified by climate change. A recent report warned that by 2030 nearly half the population of India, one tenth the of all people on earth, will not have adequate drinking water. Groundwater is running out. Meanwhile from Michigan to California, Nestle and other bottling companies continue to pump out millions of gallons of water, virtually for free, to sell back to people in crisis.
This system is unsustainable. Already much of the migration on a global scale is directly linked to the literal drying up or flooding out of communities made vulnerable by climate catastrophe.
Recently Phillip Alston, the UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights explained that we are increasingly at risk of “climate apartheid.” Alston explains that as basic elements of life become more fragile, political and economic powers move to protect themselves. Alston said, “Climate change threatens to undo the last 50 years of progress in development, global health, and poverty reduction,” Poor people everywhere will be most devastated as they will “bear an estimated 75% of the costs of the climate crisis” even though “the poorest half of the world’s population (is) causing just 10% of carbon dioxide emissions.”
The political implications are obvious. Democracy and human rights are endangered everywhere. Alston’s report said, “The risk of community discontent, of growing inequality, and of even greater levels of deprivation among some groups, will likely stimulate nationalist, xenophobic, racist and other responses. Maintaining a balanced approach to civil and political rights will be extremely complex.”
This global context helps us understand why the current fight in Detroit over facial recognition technologies is so important. Increasing tools of technological repression places the majority of people at risk. It only serves to intensify and expand the powers of the state. This is the wrong direction.
If we are to construct a future for all of us, we need to think very differently about the choices we are making today. We need to move toward policies and practices that increase our human connections and our ecological sensibilities. There is a deep tread that ties together protecting the human right to water, food, education, and creative life while resisting dehumanizing, technological efforts of control us. Each time we chose to act toward life, we are shaping a better tomorrow.
Join us as we continue Historic Idlewild’s legacy of celebrating Black history and culture! Enjoy incredible artists like Mollywop!, Nique Love Rhodes & the NLR Experience, Monica Blaire and so many more! Check out the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, play big board games, race one of the miniature race cars and enjoy the entertainment for free! For a nominal fee, go kayaking, take a bike ride or go paddle boarding.
This year, we are offering a 1 day roundtrip bus ride to Idlewild for ONLY $30! The bus leaves from Detroit at 8am on September 1st and leaves Idlewild to head back to Detroit at 830pm the same evening.
Limited bus seating available.
Get additional info and your day pass here
See you there!
Detroit’s creative community has gained a valuable resource in the Riverwise Storytelling Workshops, which focus on grooming storytellers within the city. KEEP READING
Online Class by Visionary Organizing Lab
Many are marking 2019 as the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first captured Africans in Jamestown. So, even more than usual, we will hear chattel slavery referred to as the nation’s original sin.