Michigan Civil Rights Leaders Create Flint Water Study Guide

Apr 23, 2019

State civil rights officials have produced a guide aimed at helping to teach lessons of the Flint water crisis as it marks five years.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights released the guide Tuesday that officials hope promotes debate among students. It's based on a 2017 report issued by the Michigan Civil Rights Commission finding decades-long "systemic racism" contributing to the lead-in-water crisis in the majority black city.

The guide contains definitions of "bias," ''racial disparities" and other terms. It also has "conversation starters," including how the report reached its conclusions, and identifying examples of residents losing trust in government.

Augustin Arbulu is the director of the Michigan Department of Civil Rights. He doesn't know if the guide will be used in schools, but he says he'd support it.

"I think we don't talk about racism and racial disparities in the schools enough. The problem I see is, schools have not trained their staff to facilitate and hold these kinds of conversations."

The department is encouraging its use among K-12 school districts and colleges.

The toxin was discovered in 2014 after officials tapped the Flint River for drinking water without proper treatment.