Abre’ Conner: Racism Seen In Jackson, Miss. Water Crisis

BY ABRE’ CONNER | NAACP

Yesterday [Sept. 16ll], the Mississippi State Department of Health lifted the boil-water notice in the City of Jackson, after 40 long and detrimental days of unsafe water conditions.

Make no mistake, the water is still unsafe, and I am headed to Jackson as I write this to speak with local residents about this matter.

For almost two months, city residents needed to boil their tap water in order for them to drink, clean, or bathe with it, and just weeks ago, many had their access to tap water completely shut off after a storm caused further damage to the city’s water system. Long distribution lines formed around the city, with people waiting hours to receive bottled water. Residents would turn on their taps to see brown water seeping out. Many have asked, how could this happen in America in the year 2022?

Well, the answer is simple. Racism.

Jackson is a city with a population that is more than 80 percent Black and is situated within a southern state whose governor has proven to be hostile toward environmental and climate justice.

The issue in Jackson is beyond a water crisis. It’s about Black people being subjected to unlivable conditions because of politics and systemic disenfranchisement. We saw it happen in Flint, Michigan, and we’re seeing it happening again in Mississippi.

Today, it’s the water that’s unsafe. Tomorrow, it could be food. And next week, it could very well be the air that we breathe.

Last weekend, an NAACP delegation rushed bottles of clean water to the city, and this weekend I’m heading back and doubling down on our efforts to safeguard the health and safety of our folks in the region. The crisis in Jackson is far from over, and we will need your support every step of the way.

Our fight is far from over. We’re still working to ensure that Jackson residents can make decisions about the water they drink. Stay tuned in to @naacp across all social media platforms to follow my journey. In Power.

Abre’ Conner is the director of the Center for Environmental and Climate Justice with the NAACP. She attended the NAACP national convention in Atlantic City in January.

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