The Black Hive @ M4BL Statement: In Solidarity with Jackson, Mississippi’s Black Community and the Water Infrastructure Crisis
In response to the Jackson, Mississippi water infrastructure crisis, We, the Black Hive – the Movement for Black Lives climate and environmental justice intervention and collective of over 200 climate and environmental justice organizations and Black leaders – release the following statement:
“The Black Hive @ M4BL is in solidarity with Jackson, Mississippi residents to demand the basic human right to clean water. At this very moment, over 160,000 people in America are struggling to cook, clean, bathe, or even hydrate without running water. How can a state as rich in resources and industry as Mississippi not have running water? We must be clear: the Jackson water infrastructure crisis is a human rights crisis, and it is the direct result of violent and racist infrastructure disinvestment, now further compounded by the climate crisis.
Governor Tate Reeves and the state government’s white power structures have perpetually denied basic infrastructure, investment and human services to the city of Jackson, simply because it is the largest majority Black city in Mississippi. Jackson is yet another casualty of white supremacist neoliberalism, as the federal government has spent the last thirty years shifting away from direct investments in our communities’ public drinking water systems. As a result, localities have been forced to participate in racially exclusive, capitalist lottery systems that increase rates, and shift the burdens to Black communities.
Decades of racist disinvestment and dereliction in the U.S. South has led to this crisis. The 117th Congress has passed three different bills – the American Rescue Plan Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act – authorizing billions of dollars for water infrastructure upgrades. Yet none of these investments have reached vulnerable communities, and Governor Tate Reeves has repeatedly ignored the root cause of this water crisis and has blocked multiple attempts by Jackson authorities to access these vital funds. State and federal authorities have repeatedly failed to invest in solutions to end this human rights abuse. Jackson residents have faced multiple unsafe water advisories since 2016 due to toxic lead levels, and yet it wasn’t until the collapse of the city’s water infrastructure in 2022 that Jackson’s struggles were finally acknowledged.
Systemic neglect and racist exclusion has placed Black communities, like Jackson, on the frontlines of both the infrastructure and climate crisis. From Flint, Michigan to Lake Chad in Central Africa, to West Baltimore, Maryland, the Black experience reveals that scarcity and conflict are senseless crises manufactured by global divestment in our communities.
The Black Hive @ M4BL is clear in uplifting these demands. Ultimately, when water becomes both unsafe and unaffordable—it becomes ripe for privatization and profit. We vehemently reject the capitalist disposability of Black lives and the planet.
The Black Hive @ M4BL in Solidarity with the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition demands:
- Congress appropriate immediate funds in the amount of $100 million to upgrade to the Jackson water system and ensure that this is done by Black-led community-based organizations in the Jackson area
- Moratorium on ICE patrols that terrorize residents as they pick up water for their daily needs
- Ensure that at least 40% of financial investment and resources are allocated to Jackson residents and community/Black-led organizations
- The federal government must quickly implement disaster response and long- term climate resiliency planning in the most affected communities
- Establishment and activation of a national emergency water assistance in priority disaster areas, effectively putting an end to the environmentally racist and unjust practices that prioritize private access during emergencies, which denies Black communities any decision-making power or agency
- Critical upgrades that are essential for a functioning drinking water/ wastewater system must come without predatory financing or indebtedness that would further burden the city
- Immediate replacement of all lead pipes and lead paint that is contaminating the water supply in Jackson, MS
- An immediate end to deepwater fracking and drilling, a ban on all new fossil-fuel drilling and fracking, protection of marine habitats, an expansion of marine-protected areas, restoration of vulnerable marine ecosystems, and investment in the protection and repair of fisheries
- Congress amends the Stafford Act to include man-made and climate-related disasters
- Closed loopholes for the commodification and the private prioritization of water, oil, gas production, and aqua ecology that is vital to the environment
The climate crisis is a racist, capitalist, colonial and economic emergency. We must demand divestment from the extraction, exploitation, and exclusion of Black lives and communities now. We call on the U.S. government to prevent any more losses, damages and death in Jackson, Baltimore and Black communities across the U.S. Black people are the solution to the climate change crisis that is impacting our communities, homes and lives. The Jackson water crisis and other water crises hurting Black people are yet another example of the need for climate reparations and supporting Black climate and environmental leadership in this urgent fight against climate change.
In Power & Hope
The Black Hive @ M4BL
The Movement for Black Lives is a national network of more than 150 leaders and organizations creating a broad political home for Black people to learn, organize and take action. M4BL includes activists, organizers, academics, lawyers, educators, health workers, artists and more, all unified in a radical vision for Black liberation and working for equity, justice and healing.