Commentary: In Flint Michigan, “We Charge Genocide”

Commentary: In Flint Michigan, “We Charge Genocide”
March 17
00:00 2016

Akbar Muhammad

Guest Columnist

— Six questions and past actions in the U.S. that give precedent to why such a charge is conceivable

Nationwide ( — I first saw the term “We Charge Genocide” on the cover of a book given to me in a New York City restaurant called “Ararat,” off 36th Street and 5th Avenue. It was an Armenian restaurant where the owner got to know Minister Louis Farrakhan, his family and staff who dined there from time to time for dinner. It was from the owner that I heard about the struggle of Armenia, which was not an independent country at that time.

In recent years, Armenia has become familiar to the American public from the notoriety of the reality television family, the Kardashians, who are from there.

The tragedy in Armenia was a case of systematic liquidation of a minority people struggling for freedom, self determination and justice by the old Ottoman Empire which is now Turkey.

It was carried out during World War I between the years 1915 and 1918. The Armenian people were subjected to deportation, expropriation, abduction, torture, massacre, and starvation, said that documented the struggle and history.

Although the violations happened years before the United Nations Convention on Genocide, the world condemned the action. But perhaps because of time and Armenia being a distant place and a world away, the American people may not remember much of what happened there. However, right now inside America, we are facing a tragedy in Flint, Mich. with lead poison contamination of the water. According to experts, the whole ordeal could have been avoided but was allowed to fester by city and state leader-ship.

In Flint, we too can charge genocide; the city is predominately black and poor with a high rate of unemployment.

The poor black, brown and poor disenfranchised communities have suffered from lead poisoning over the years and the long-term effects have been documented. One example was Freddie Gray, who died in the hands of Baltimore police sparking unrest and protests during 2015. Recent reports disclosed a high level of lead was found in his body. Mr. Gray is not the exception and according to a black doctor I spoke to, the establishment has clear methods to eradicate most of the lead poisoning these communities.

The situation in Flint is not new and with a cursory glance at history, lessons can be drawn to help in the analysis of the crisis as a possible case for genocide.

Here are six questions and past actions in the U.S. that give precedent to why a charge of genocide in Flint is conceivable:

We should ask why isn’t the Federal Government working in conjunction with the state and city governments to relocate the people of Flint, Mich., as was done during the March 1979 nuclear meltdown at the Three Mile Island reactor in Pa. where citizens were relocated because of the danger of staying in the area?

The notorious acts of germ warfare against the indigenous people by European settlers here in North America such as the intentional spread of disease like small pox to weaken and kill Native Americans. It was a common method and was sent through small pox contaminated blankets.

Another note of history is the famed Tuskegee experiment where black men were injected with syphilis and purposely denied treatment. This went on from 1932-1972 and was called the “Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male.” The study initially involved 600 black men, 399 with syphilis, 201 who did not have the disease. The study was conducted without the benefit of patients’ informed consent.

Then there was the question of eugenics and forced sterilization of predominately black women without their consent, mainly in the Southern states. These were acts of genocide under laws such as the South Carolina Sterilization Bill passed into law in 1935.

In the case of criminal behavior and mass incarceration where America houses two million mostly black and brown inmates; maybe these should be test-ed for lead poisoning to see if it too is an underlining impact within their thinking.

We can encourage black athletes and entertainers, especially those in Hollywood, to speak out and demand that the Federal government test young black men in this country for the effects of long-term lead poisoning, and test the drinking water in the cities across this country that are dominated by minorities.

The Flint, Mich., lead poisoning issue is one of environmental corruption and racism among other important problems plaguing America. Black leader-ship is mostly pushed into discussions on civil rights, but this is about the life and death of a whole nation of people that must be adequately addressed.

We want to know in straight words, what are the political positions on this from candidates vying to occupy the White House after this next national election? There may be many more Flints across America which gives us the right to say loud and clear that we charge genocide.

Akbar Muhammad is international representative of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. He can be reached at for questions and comments.

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