In Solidarity with Jackson, Mississippi: Access to Clean Water Is A Human Right

We are grateful to the Black organizers, activists, and volunteers who are honoring the Jackson communities’ right to water, dignity, and life and have taken up the undue responsibility to provide clean water and comfort to people, when the state has failed its obligations. Justice Outside  stands in solidarity with the people of Jackson, Mississippi, as they experience a water crisis resulting from anti-Black redlining, underfunding, and neglect. In this spirit, we invite our communities to show up in solidarity with Jackson, Mississippi in the following ways:

This moment is only one in the past several years and decades in Jackson and we must position this event through the lens of environmental and racial justice. During the past few years, Jackson, the biggest city and state capital of Mississippi, has experienced infrastructural and public health failures in regards to their water sourcing and treatment processes. Despite pleas from the majority Black city to state and federal institutions, the city has been ignored and remains underfunded. It is important to highlight the roles of phenomena such as white flight, redlining, segregation, and anti-Blackness in exacerbating these outcomes. 

This past week, excessive rainfall led to flooding of the Pearl River and problems at one of the town’s two water-treatment plants, causing the pumps to fail. Emergency responses failed, leaving residents without water during ongoing heat waves and the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 150,000 residents were left without safe drinking water. Although water pressure has been restored, a boil-water notice remains in effect and residents remain distrustful and fearful. This takes place during the ongoing Flint water crisis and in the midst of emerging water crises in dozens of cities across the United States. Simultaneously, the organizing efforts by local and surrounding communities are testaments to the better alternatives our communities  have been building lovingly for generations. 

Water is life. Mní Wičóni.” has been the rallying cry of the Standing Rock Sioux, as they courageously resist the construction of the invasive Dakota Access Pipeline in present-day North Dakota. This statement is an assertion for life, abundance, growth, regeneration, and healing against oppressive structures that are against life. Today, and always, we are grounded in and inspired by courage, love, and solidarity and refuse to succumb to the despair and resignation that white supremacy, colonization, and anti-Blackness intends to impose. As power figures suggest harmful alternatives rooted in for-profit capitalism and anti-Blackness, we root ourselves in life—in the form of water, community, abundance, and joy.

In the modern era where we are as connected as ever, we invite us all to build and fortify care networks among our families, friends, and communities. Solidarity, love, and joy remain as abundant as ever as the foundation to build a better world together.

Featured photo depicts members of Cooperation Jackson distributing clean water to residents of Jackson and has been used with permission. You can learn more about Cooperation Jackson’s work here and follow them on Facebook here.