Legendary playwright August Wilson once said, “All art is political in the sense that it serves someone’s politics.” In Flint, Michigan, the political fight is for a basic human right: clean water. The budgetary move by politicians to save money despite knowledge of unclean water has turned into a human rights violation, leaving many people in the majority Black city poisoned.
This past Sunday, artists like Ava DuVernay and Ryan Coogler made it their political mission to serve the city’s residents. The #JusticeForFlint fundraiser brought in over $145,000 and did something local politicians have failed to do: help.
However, after the flashing lights have powered down, there are still people who will need water; there are people who will need help for the rest of their lives because of various health problems. Rapper/activist and Flint native Jon Connor is taking on the mantle of the city’s most visible resident, their global politician who will ensure the city is not forgotten.
While visiting The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Connor spoke his honest feelings after Sunday night’s event.
“I compare it to when somebody tried to cheer you up after a funeral; it was like, ‘OK, we had a good time, and we shared some laughs, but then after, it’s just like, ‘Wow, we’re still dealing with the reality that we have to use bottled water to take a shower.’ ”
When Wilmore turned the topic to a leaked e-mail giving the state of emergency over Flint’s drinking water the same credence of a run-of-the-mill public relations crisis, Connor gave viewers a ground level view of what’s going on.
“It’s a little more personal for me because my mother’s still there. My cousins, my aunts, my uncles are still there,” Connor said. “Just imagine taking a shower, you have to have 34 bottles of water ready to splash… Just think about that. For me, it’s not a PR disaster. It’s real. We are a city in America. There’s no publicist, there’s no cameras in my mother’s house. When all of these hashtags and all of these headlines go away, my mother still has to go through that.”
Connor performed his new song, “Fresh Water For Flint” featuring Keke Palmer. Connor belts out during his song cry, “Everybody in my city and state died/They wanna act like it ain’t happening/Or like I’m just rapping.”
Connor’s continued visibility brings urgency to the man-made state of emergency in Flint, one of the most horrid miscarriages of public trust in America’s history.