A year ago, I was just beginning rehearsals with a group of dancers in Iowa City. After almost a year of site-based movement research, heavy historical reading, and conducting interviews, I took my process into the studio to piece together a narrative in hopes that my own views on empathy, power, and identity might spark a deeper conversation.
The Flint Project was born in a moment of great frustration, as I watched a city I love try to navigate insurmountable challenges of violence, poverty, and racism. At the same time, at the national level, voices from the margins of society were demanding to be heard, insisting that if all lives matter, then we need to realize that black lives do too. The issues I investigated through the lens of Flint deserved to be framed as relevant to a larger community-- because they are. So that's what The Flint Project tried to do.
A year later, my city is back in the spotlight. This time, it's not violence driving national headlines. It's because a governor and his administration thought no one would notice if they poisoned a poor, black city in order to save money. If you aren't familiar with the Flint water situation, you can choose your own brand of information, but these are a few good places to start:
- Timeline: Here's how the Flint water crisis unfolded (michiganradio.org)
- Flint toxic water tragedy points directly to Governor Snyder (MSNBC.com)
- We should all be ashamed about what is happening in Flint (michiganradio.org)
- Michigan's Failure to Protect Flint (nytimes.com)
Protesters are demanding everything from the resignation to the arrest of Governor Snyder, and while I share their sentiments, I can't help but feel like that would give me only a small bit of satisfaction; it won't change what's happened--what's happened cannot be undone. Quite literally, the effects of lead poisoning are irreversible. Yes, I want people to be held accountable for their actions (and inaction), but it won't ease my anger and heartbreak.
I really am at a loss for words--it feels impossible to articulate exactly how I feel. But I do know I am feeling so much. Which means the next step will be to create something. I don't know what that will look like. I have so much to process, and I know I don't want to do it alone.
While I work through this, I'm sharing a clip from our performance in April. This is the very end of the piece. It's meant to speak to hope, to claim a new definition of the American Dream.