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Flint Crisis and People Involved in Response


The response to issues facing the residents of Flint and its similarities to Ratcliff’s description of the tobacco playbook is discussed in this essay. Robert’s thought on environmental racism and how this can be changed is also discussed. Ratcliff brings up in her book the social factors and the drivers of these factors and how it affects people’s health. According to Robert Bullard, income and pollution segregation have led people of colour and poor people to live in areas that leave them vulnerable. Social factors which are influenced by political economy and policies have a great impact on people’s health and their lives in general. The residents of Flint town use tactics such as misinformation in response to the water crisis, just as Ratcliff suggests in the tobacco playbook.

The book by Kathryn Strother focuses on the social impact of health, unlike the biological determinants of health that have always been discussed. Kathryn argues that there are root causes that affect the health of Americans and these root causes are the ones that should be dealt with to promote healthy living among people (Ratcliff, 2017). She uses the “upstream” approach to refer to the social determinants of health. The upstream approach is based on the thought of people drowning. The same way someone drowning is pushed into a river is the same way the social factors in people’s lives push them into their health state. These social determinants of health generally surround people’s daily lives, and most researchers have insisted on the relevance of these factors to people’s health. The social determinants include the environment in which people live, their housing conditions, the type of work, and the conditions they are exposed to at work, and the amount of money they earn determines the type of food they get and the quality of health services (Ratcliff, 2017). Politics, the economy, and policies influence these social factors that affect health. Kathryn illustrates how politics and policies affect people’s choices, which in turn affects their health. The book also discusses the tobacco industry and its effect on people’s health. It highlights how the tobacco industry averted blame for its effects on people’s health by redirecting research to other causes of lung cancer.

In the video, Robert Bullard defines environmental justice as the right for all communities to have equal protection and equal access to transportation, employment, and housing. Everyone has a right to live in a safe neighbourhood for their children to play in and not worry about pollution. According to Robert, most landfills are in black neighbourhoods (PBS Amanpour and Company, n.d.). This exposes another inequality in decision-making where the people living in those neighbourhoods are not involved in deciding where the landfills should be located. Climate change in relation to environmental justice is mainly about who contributes the most to climate change and who is affected the most. Droughts and floods caused by climate change affect poor people and leave them in a worse state. Income segregation has left poor people with no choice but to live in poor housing conditions. Robert also says that there is not only income segregation but also pollution segregation (PBS Amanpour and Company, n.d.). People living in polluted neighborhoods face continuous pollution in their area. According to Robert, there is a need for Houston and other cities to realize that inequality affects everyone; hence all people should be protected and given equal access to the greater good.

The residents of Flint town shift the blame to the police even when they commit a crime. The tobacco industry did the same by paying researchers to research on how other factors can cause lung cancer, shifting the narrative in their favor. In the series, a sister to a reckless driver shifts the narrative by bringing up racism when in fact, her brother was at fault (Canepari et al., 2018). Misinformation is the other tactic that one of the residents of Flint town used just as the tobacco industry did (Ratcliff, 2017). In the episode, a woman whose husband was shot by a police officer records a video of her boyfriend. She tells a story that blames the police officer, which misinformed people because the whole video was not recorded hence no one really knows what happened before he was shot. The residents are likely to believe her story because of the previous history between black people and the police.

The residents have so much distrust of the police that whenever they see them, their first thought is not that they are there to help or protect them (Canepari et al., 2018). This is an issue that should be addressed first. What is going on in Flint is being ignored, and until the government and the residents face it directly, things will never change. Just as Kathryn states while describing the tobacco playbook, the political economy avoids its contribution to the problems that the people are facing, and blame is shifted to individual responsibility (Ratcliff, 2017). Until all parties involved take responsibility, issues in Flint town will remain unresolved.


The people’s choices are affected by the political economy and policies. People’s housing conditions, their type of work, culture, and many other social factors affects their health. Inequalities in areas such as providing protection and access to services are a problem for everyone, and the sooner people realize this, the earlier the problem will be resolved. Therefore all people should join hands to fight environmental injustice. This is also the same for Flint residents and their leaders. These issues will only be resolved if all responsible parties face the problem directly and avoid shifting blame.


Canepari, Z., Coope, D., & Dimmock, J. (Co-Directors). (2018, March 2). Flint Town (Season 1, Episode 3) [TV Series Episode]. In S. Golin, D. Pritikin & P. G. Morgan (Executive Producers). The Rat Pack. Netflix.

PBS Amanpour and Company. (n.d). Robert Bullard on Environmental Racism.

Ratcliff, K. S. (2017). The social determinants of health: Looking upstream. Polity Press.


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