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‘What about Flint, Puerto Rico, Black churches,’ people ask after Trump pledges aid to France

George Thomas/Flickr (CC-BY)

There are few things in our own country that still need addressing.

The White House has offered financial assistance to rehabilitate Notre Dame in Paris, a day after the historic church was engulfed in flames. The restoration efforts have already received almost $1 billion in funding worldwide. 

The president’s quick gesture to help, while lovely, reflects poorly on his priorities. Twitter was eager to point out that cities and territories that fall under his leadership still need resources after tragedy, loss, and corruption. For example, Flint, Michigan, still doesn’t have clean water.

Even Amariyanna “Mari” Copeny, the 11-year-old who became famously known as Little Miss Flint for penning a letter to President Obama about the water crisis, also tweeted about it.

On Tuesday, around the same time as the White House announcement, Flint reportedly received its remaining $77.7 million in federal funding from a $120 million federal and state loan that was announced in 2017 for improving the city’s water infrastructure.

While this loan aims to support certain water projects in Flint in the short and long term, local officials say a lot more needs to be done, and would require $300 million in “capital improvements” over the next two decades. This month marks the fifth year since a move to save money and draw water from the Flint River has led to a public health crisis in the area.  

Along with Flint, many pointed out the glaring, more recent account of three Black churches set on fire in Louisiana, which received little media attention or response from the president.

Hillary Clinton also tweeted a reminder about the Lousiana church fires, sharing the link to a GoFundMe page that a local news site says has received increasing funds since the Notre Dame fire, raising about $1 million of its $1.8 million goal.

Then there is the crisis in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Maria, which Trump did not respond to so quickly.

Last month, the president reportedly said the U.S. territory has received funds “way out of proportion” compared to Texas and Florida in the aftermath of their natural disasters, and refused to offer further aid to refurbish Puerto Rico’s water system or make the territory resilient to future storms. However, Trump is reportedly on board with giving $600 million in assistance for addressing a shortage of food stamps on the island, according to the Guardian.

The Notre Dame fire has been heartbreaking for many around the world, largely for people’s personal experiences with visiting the centuries-old monument. But it also shines a light on how certain historic monuments are worth mourning, while the destruction of Black churches and communities of color get ignored. 

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Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque