Experiences of the Flint Water Crisis Among Reproductive-Age Michigan Women in Communities Outside of Flint: Differences by Race and Ethnicity

Sidonie K. Kilpatrick, Katherine W. Bauer, Nia Heard-Garris, Anita M. Malone, Cleopatra M. Abdou, Heidi M. Weeks, Michelle Clayson, Kristi L. Allgood, Darya Dokshina, Belinda L. Needham*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We sought to understand how women in Michigan communities outside of Flint experienced the Flint water crisis, an avoidable public health disaster widely attributed to structural racism. Using survey data from 950 Michigan women aged 18–45 from communities outside of Flint, we examined racial and ethnic differences in personal connections to Flint, perceived knowledge about the water crisis, and beliefs about the role of anti-Black racism in the water crisis factors that could contribute to poor health via increased psychological stress. We found that White (OR = 0.32; 95% CI: 0.22, 0.46) and Hispanic (OR = 0.21; 95% CI: 0.09, 0.49) women had lower odds than Black women of having family or friends who lived in Flint during the water crisis. Compared to Black women, White women were less likely to be moderately or very knowledgeable about the water crisis (OR = 0.58; 95% CI: 0.41, 0.80). White women (OR = 0.26; 95% CI: 0.18, 0.37), Hispanic women (OR = 0.38; 95% CI: 0.21, 0.68), and women of other races (OR = 0.28; 95% CI: 0.15, 0.54) were less likely than Black women to agree that the water crisis happened because government officials wanted to hurt Flint residents. Among those who agreed, White women (OR = 0.47; 95% CI: 0.30, 0.74) and women of other races (OR = 0.33; 95% CI: 0.12, 0.90) were less likely than Black women to agree that government officials wanted to hurt people in Flint because most residents are Black. We conclude that the Flint water crisis was a racialized stressor, with potential implications for the health of reproductive-age Black women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Flint water crisis
  • Racialized stressor
  • Structural racism
  • Vicarious racism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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