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Talita de OliveiraProfessor NgalaSociology 100January 17th, 2018 The Flint Michigan Water CrisisBackground: Beginning in April of the year 2014, the flint water crisis was a major issue that affected the health of thousands of civilians. Unfortunately, the residents of Flint are presently (now in 2018) receiving abnormal water from their local pipes at this very moment, thus conditions have not completely surpassed what they used to be. Flint, Michigan is an impoverished city, where most residing in the city from backgrounds of poverty and low income. The entire scandal began when the city’s governor started his search for providing cheaper water to Flint, in order to reduce economic costs in the city alone. This is ironic for the fact that will be explained further on. Previous to the “solution” of switching the water provider to the flint river, the city depended on water from the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD). After the switch to Flint River water, several cases of lead poisoning both in children and adults arose. Lead poisoning is not only extremely toxic, but also deathly. The city explained how the switch was only temporary, when it n fact lasted a few years. What is alarming and ironic is that the local government ended up having to deal with saving many lives, which in turn increased economic spending. In other words, this entire ordeal could have been prevented and only made the entire situation of residential living conditions worsen. It was not only lead poisoning that became a major concern, but after testing the water distributed throughout the city, many cases of E.coli and transformed bacteria were detected. Cases became so severe that the coffee-colored water causes schools to not be able to operate. The shutdown of educational buildings prevented children from getting an education and acquiring knowledge. Not only was Flint strongly moved by the situation, but so were local cities beyond Flint. The governors decision to lower expenses ended up being “a major violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act because of the level of total trihalomethanes, or TTHM, in the water.” Not only did spending increases do to the uprise in health issues, but General Motors, a “Flint-birthed” company revolving around automobiles, claimed that they were to stop using Flint River water, for they feared that the lead itself would cause corrosion of their machines and the car parts. General Motors was forced to relocate, firing many employees and leaving people jobless. This was yet another factor that affected Flint’s economy directly, for citizens were unable to make income, thus the city became more impoverished than it already was. The water crisis not only paved way for public health and local economic catastrophe, but factors such as social class, the income-gap, and race also contributed to an increase in poor conditions. Assessment: It is important to note social stratification in occurence through the Flint water crisis. Social stratification, as stated in the textbook, “Discover Sociology: Second Edition”, can be defined as the systematic ranking of different groups of people in a hierarchy of equality. Focusing specifically on the sociological theory known as Conflict Theory, as well as the three sociological concepts of poverty/ income inequality, social class, social interaction, and social movements. Beginning with the conflict theory, it is evident that this theory is depicted in the Flint water crisis in several ways. For instance, from a conflict theorist’s perspective, one may argue that the entire issue was a necessity for change to occur within not only the way the local government functions, but for awareness to spread regarding the situation. Without the governor’s decision to look for ways to diminish expenses, thus changing the water provider, the negative effect it had on the governed people was inevitable. Moreover, the majority of Flint’s residents are of low socioeconomic status. The conflict theory reveals that groups intend on protecting their own interests for their own benefits, thus, competition evolves within groups and each group pushes to block the progress of other groups. As mentioned in the article, some argue that the governor had no intentions of sacrificing the health and wellness of his own people, but conflict theorists see this as a purposeful and conscious decision. Being that the Governor is of the capitalist class, with extremely high income and superior wealth, this situation must not have affected him nor the capitalists as much as it did the lower classes. What is alarming and supports the theory is the fact that this situation has allowed the poorer to remain in suffering and unbearable conditions, thus allowing the rich to get richer for lack of “competition.” In other words, the conflict theory points to the fact that groups try to remain dominant and superior do the other through manipulation and control. Conflict theorists would therefore claim the water crisis as a way for the wealthy (the local government officials) to put their opponents (the civilians stuck in poverty) in a state of shock for the benefit of the wealthy. Furthermore, regarding the concept of ¬†poverty/ income inequality, they are both apparent in the Flint water crisis in extreme ways. As an illustration, the majority of the residents who reside in Flint Michigan are of the African American race. Dating back to historic America, people who were of black skin pigmentation were subject to be put at a major disadvantage. For instance, any person of white descent of who had the white physical attributes were given major opportunities such as the ability to receive more educational opportunities, thus, more career opportunities, which eventually lead to a rise in economic stature. On the contrary, Blacks were seen as inferior and it wasn’t until the end of an era of segregation, which was not too long ago, that the race got provided the same privileges as the White race. This prejudice has majorly impacted the future generations of black americans, which is evidently seen in racial residential segregation. In continuation, many Flint residents can not afford to move out of the Flint area for the fact that they are minorities with much lower income than many. Flint Michigan has allowed for past generations of minorities to migrate and purchase property for cheaper prices, allowing Flint residents to live in stable conditions. The income gap is something so realistically influential to where people may choose to live versus where they are capable of affording to reside. Flint citizens have endured horrid conditions for almost five years, and still face issues they are unable to escape specifically due to income. The urgent situation of not being provided a basic need of survival (clean water) is almost inhumane and very absurd. People have been forced to survive in ¬†Furthermore, the concept of social class is clearly depicted in the crisis, and is somewhat correlated with poverty. For instance, factors that contribute to social class include race, ethnicity, and gender. As mentioned previously, residents of flint are mainly of either the working class or working poor, thus influencing their living conditions. Getting health insurance is not something considerably cheap, thus, many residents of flint struggle to afford health care. The lead poisoning has caused severe damage to not only adults but innocent children, and many are unable to consult a doctor for lack of insurance. Toxins running in the blood of children is extremely severe and deadly, but Flint residents lack the options of getting professional help. Individuals of the capitalist and middle-class are not only able to afford proper health car, but are able to “purchases” the best health care possible. Meanwhile, the impoverished are forced to comply with either governmental help or pay out of pocket. Social class is a major deciding factor when it comes down to stability and safe living conditions, which is extremely unfortunate. Lastly, the concept of social interaction/ social movements is clear-cut in the water crisis as well. For example, due to the roaring media, there has been a rapid spread of awareness regarding the situation, thus, many rescue organizations have taken an interest in the aid of Flint. For instance, the internet and television are such powerful sources regarding the rapid spread of information, and have had a positive effect on the city. Organizations such as “Help For Flint” have helped spread awareness through the use of fundraising. Moreover, the use of social movements have been important for getting the federal government’s attention through non-violent protests and peaceful marches. With regards to the article published by the Washington Post, written by Yanan Wang, titled In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared, Wang speaks on behalf of the impact of the water on the health of the youth in Flint. The author depicts the situation in a very realistic and detailed manner, including the psychological impact lead has on the brain, thus relating this back to the impairment of the children affected by the contaminated water. Although the author does not directly claim that this entire fiasco has been due to racial issues, it can be inferred so. For instance, Wang claims that “Those who could afford it opted for bottled water, buying it by the gallons.” In other words, it is evident that the wealthier have been placed at a significant advantage being able to afford the luxury of “bottled water.” With significant analysis, it is easy to see that the top percentile of Flint residents are Black, and are considered necessitous. This assumption does in fact reflect the idea of “split consciousness”. This term specifically relates to the “realities of ordinary citizens’ lives in class-stratified societies.” This term is also coined from the idea that poverty is the result of the interests of the dominant class (the wealthy only care for what benefits them). In other words the classes socially compare themselves to one another, and the wealthy argue that it is due to their hard-work and efforts that allows them to be more “advanced.” Furthermore, this article is not bias for it strictly states factual evidence and includes credible professionals in its argument. In conclusion, the Flint water crisis has been an ongoing issue for half a decade, and although much awareness has been brought about through the use of media, there is still so much to be solved in terms of the civilians affected by the crisis itself. This current event proves that there are underlying factors that come with social issues, specifically considering the effect race and income has on receiving aid for stabilizing health. Is it possible that social inequality could completely disappear from society and that class standards may change? Will prejudice ever come to end? There are several questions that arise regarding speculation as to whether the Flint Michigan crisis could have been prevented and factual evidence and sociological theories prove that it definitely could have. Works Cited: Wang, Y. (2015, December 15). In Flint, Mich., there’s so much lead in children’s blood that a state of emergency is declared. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/12/15/toxic-water-soaring-lead-levels-in-childrens-blood-create-state-of-emergency-in-flint-mich/?utm_term=.a0d76047cb27Kennedy, M. (2016, April 20). Lead-Laced Water In Flint: A Step-By-Step Look At The Makings Of A Crisis. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/04/20/465545378/lead-laced-water-in-flint-a-step-by-step-look-at-the-makings-of-a-crisisHunt, M. O., & Bullock, H. E. (2017, June 16). Ideologies and Beliefs about Poverty. Retrieved January 19, 2018, from http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199914050.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199914050-e-6#oxfordhb-9780199914050-e-6-div2-34

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