Anna Clark’s The Poisoned City is about the contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan. The Poisoned City is a difficult, necessary read. It says so much about America and human nature; unfortunately, it too often highlights the worst of both.
The Poisoned City walks us through the series of governmental failures at all levels of government from the EPA and CDC at the federal level, basically the entire government of Michigan, and some terrible local decisions that led to Americans drinking toxic waste.
In addition to showing us how too many people put greed, politics, and self-preservation over the lives of others, The Poisoned City takes us through some important history about corporations polluting our air and water. From car companies dumping toxic waste into the Flint River to Charles Kettering, whose name adorns a famous cancer treatment center, promoting lies about the dangers posed by leadded gasoline when he worked for GM, The Poisoned City reminds of how little corporations and the wealthy care about our health.
I’m grateful for Anna Clark’s chronicling some of the doctors, parents, and religious leaders who forced governmental entities to eventually acknowledge the poisoning. Sadly, Clark correctly recognizes that the ordinary people of color who were so critical in exposing the poisoning have received far less credit than they deserve.
Clark’s willingness to address the systemic, prolonged, continuing racism that clearly influenced every aspect of the tragedy is an essential part of the book. While the extent of the poisoning of Flint is unique the poisoning of communities of color is not.
The last lesson taught by the poisoning of Flint is that to date not a single person has been held accountable. People died. People suffered severe injury and illness. In typical American fashion, the wealthy are above the law–even when their crimes are murder.