Civil Rights Commission: Racism played role in Flint water crisi - WNEM TV 5

Civil Rights Commission: Racism played role in Flint water crisis

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

A report from the Michigan Civil Rights Commission earlier this year suggested racism and discrimination led to the creation of the Flint water crisis.

Now a citizens group is continuing the discussion in hopes of inspiring change.

The director of the Civil Rights Commission spoke to that group Tuesday night about what that report uncovered.

"There's no doubt that Flint was very much racially segregated and continues even today," said Agustin Arbulu, director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights.

Arbulu said racism played a major factor in the Flint water crisis.

"People were talking about it. You have black families, individuals of color and they weren't being listened to. Why," Arbulu said.

Some residents in Flint agree.

"I suspect if we had been a predominately white community we wouldn't have been written off so easily," said Bob Brown, resident.

Arbulu spoke at the Flint Public Library discussing his findings on racism during the water crisis. He said a major factor was implicit bias, which means you favor a specific group of people without even knowing it.

"And we have to be cognizant of that. We have to fight against that and we have to set forth policies we can embed," Arbulu said.

He also discussed ways the community can move forward because after what happened there's a lot of trauma and distrust. Arbulu compared it to an injury.

"You can get patched up, you can be repaired. You can recover from it physically, but what about emotionally? That I think is a longer process," Arbulu said.

The people who listened to Arbulu's discussion wanted to hear more.

"We come to understand each other and we come to understand what's really going on in the city," said Donna Ullrich, with Neighborhoods Without Borders.

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