Our America with Julián Castro

Return to Flint

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It’s hard to look at the current administration’s decision to downplay the severity of the Coronavirus without thinking about the Flint water crisis. Both stories reflect the devastating impact of misinformation and government inaction. This week, we return to Flint and talk to a dynamic duo: Pastor Ezra Tillman and First Lady Catrina Tillman. We hear about the incredible work they’re doing to support their community and the progress still left to be done. Join Julián for a wide-ranging conversation that covers everything from environmental racism, Diana Ross, and the kindness of strangers.

Keep up with Julián on twitter @JulianCastro and Instagram @JulianCastroTX

Resources from this episode


[00:39] Woman: Good morning. I just want to thank First Trinity for the water here at the water box. We use that to bathe our baby. We have a new baby, a month old, and we’ll be back to get my jug refilled. Thank you. Thank you. 


[00:59] Julián Castro: At 1226 Beach Street in downtown Flint, you’ll find the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, led by Pastor Ezra Tillman and his wife, First Lady Catrina Tillman. In some ways it’s just like any other church. They offer Sunday worship, weekly Bible study, but starting in 2014, they stepped up to play a new role for their community. 


[01:26] Catrina Tillman: So today is Thursday and we are getting prepared to open our water box for the public. So if you are in the Flint area, get this message out to the residents of Flint, let them know that they can either bring their own jugs to get filled up or we have free five-gallon jugs that we’re given out to the public.


[01:49] Julián Castro: Over the past five years, the team at First Trinity has distributed hundreds of thousands of gallons of clean water. They’re able to do this with a revolutionary system called the water box.


[02:01] News anchor: A mobile filtration system eliminating heavy metals and bacteria from water. The church teamed up with Jaden Smith and The Last Kilometer to deliver eight to 10 gallons of water per minute. The mobile filtration system was created to combat the Flint water crisis. 


[02:17] Julián Castro: During the peak of the water crisis, people lined up in their cars, sometimes for hours, to receive the water. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Flint. There, I got to see the water box in action. I’m here in Flint to hear about some of the progress being made in the community after the Flint water crisis. And to hear about the progress that still needs to be made in the community, and to let them know that we haven’t forgotten them and that everybody counts. 


[02:54] Julián Castro: The work being done on the grassroots level in Flint is amazing. But it’s also discouraging that even today there are people in this country who don’t have access to something as basic as clean water. After all, you can’t live without it. And Congress passed the Clean Water Act almost 50 years ago. How did we reach a point where our local churches are being asked to fulfill the responsibilities of local government? And what does it say about our national priorities that every single person living in the United States is not guaranteed access to clean water? The Flint water crisis isn’t just an unfortunate story from our past. It’s a cautionary tale for our future. And it’s still a very real issue for Flint residents today. This is Our America. I’m your host, Julián Castro. I was inspired by Pastor Ezra Tillman and First Lady Catrina Tillman’s passion and sincerity. And I knew we had to continue the conversation.


[04:05] Catrina Tillman: Well, first, thanks for having us. And more importantly, thank you for remembering Flint. The work is still continuing and we’re just grateful and blessed to be in a position to where we can serve this community in which we worship in this capacity. 

[04:25] Julián Castro: Yeah, I wanted to just ask, how did you all meet? Because y’all are this dynamic duo, both so involved in the church and also in activism. How did you meet?


[04:41] Catrina Tillman: OK. Well, I’ll give you my story. Because his story is a little tainted. So we actually met in high school. Never dated in high school. Actually, he knew more of my brother because they were upperclassmen. So we knew of each other in high school. And then my stepfather had passed away and we were in high school, and I remember in the hallways — because him and my brother played basketball together. And I remember stopping Ezra in the hallway and saying, hey, you know, my stepdad, I don’t think he’s gonna make it. You know, my brother’s going to need some support. And so Ezra was at the — it’s just amazing to me that, like, key pivotal points in my life, he was present, he was there. And so I went to college. Graduated. Came home. I’m gonna get my own apartment, own car, I was working for GM in their advertising agency in Detroit. And I was downtown and I saw him and he had on a suit. And I was just like, wow, you’ve really grown up, you know? 


[06:06] Ezra Tillman: Sunday evening after the second service, we were walking around downtown and happen to see this chocolate young lady walk out of this particular bar area, I don’t know. She had on a “Honk Your Horn If you love Jesus” t-shirt at the club. 


[06:30] Catrina Tillman: I did. I had just got out of the club and I had on a green shirt that said Honk if you…, no matter where I was at in life, Jesus was always with me.


[06:39] Ezra Tillman: So that definitely was the catcher. I was like, is that Catrina Jones? After that, I gave her a chance and here we are.


[06:52] Catrina Tillman: A year and a half later, we got married and now we have four beautiful boys. Ezra III, Micah, Isaac and Luke, and a house dog and a picket fence. 


[07:05] Julián Castro: So at what point did you get involved with activism? 


[07:13] Catrina Tillman: We both were raised in households that taught African-American history. And, you know, I remember watching classical black movies like Roots and different movies that really captured some truth in terms of historically how African-Americans were treated and the pride that we have. Like even movies like Mahogany, those type of movies. Coming to America. 


[07:45] Julián Castro: I have that song, Diana Ross’s theme from Mahogany on my iTunes.


[07:50] Catrina Tillman: Classic. We were raised in households that spoke about black excellence in education and how it’s important to give back to the less fortunate. And just in terms of how to treat people with respect. And so it’s part of our DNA. And then when you take into consideration your values in terms of your spiritual walk, it’s just fitting.


[08:21] Ezra Tillman: For me, it was an awakening. The whole activism part was not really my interest at all. You know, it is definitely a part of me. My father happened to be one of the little children that was in Birmingham, Alabama, who was out from school and protesting and behind one of the trees when they turned to fire hoses and dogs on them. And so I always had that kind of root base of understanding where injustice looked like, understanding why you were particular being marked out or marginalized or criminalized. You know, stereotyped. And from him being from the silent years from the ‘40s on up, I always heard the history of how our family came from sharecropping and how we learned to be entrepreneurs. And we had our gardens and we built and worked in railroads and we bought our own land. And so becoming a young man, picture of manhood and ownership and community was always a cultivated piece. But when it got to this particular part now, as in actually getting involved as a voice to the community, it was a birthing of understanding.


[09:28] Julián Castro: You were still fairly new in town. And as you know, any town, whether it’s Flint or, you know, a smaller city, bigger city, there’s sort of relationships that already exist and leadership that exists. Did you ever feel like you were stepping on toes or did you ever get a sense of pushback or were people fairly welcoming? 


[09:46] Ezra Tillman: Absolutely. Absolutely. And it was very hard because, as I stated, I came from a respectful home. So I understood the importance of not overstepping your boundaries and to give deference to your elders and to show respect for how things work. It didn’t matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough because I was the outsider. I wasn’t from here. You’re the outsider. And so it didn’t matter how many times I tried to project myself to be respectful and honorable in whatever steps it took, it wasn’t accepted. So over time, the beautiful thing was, is that people are people. So it was the community that embraced me. And I was embraced as the preacher at the scene that could preach and carry himself well.


[11:00] Julián Castro: Catrina, you’ve been a leader in your own right. Talk about that.


[11:06] Catrina Tillman: I like to say when it comes to me or my husband, I always say there’s a song that Ne-yo sings. And he says, I’m a movement by myself and I’m a force when we are together. And that’s how I picture us. Because in the African-American community, when you think of a “first lady,” which simply means the pastor’s wife, it’s traditionally the first lady, pretty much, you know, sits on a first pew, looks cute, waves hello, hugs on the people. And that’s it. Well, times have changed. You know, I’m just the type of woman that likes to roll my sleeves up and get to work. I’m an entrepreneur. I’m an author. And my husband supports me in the same manner that I support him. So when we came to Flint, my husband became a pastor of his current church, First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, we came the week of the actual water crisis. We didn’t even know that there was a water crisis. But that week GM had announced that they were going to stop using the water because it was causing some damage to their steel parts. 


[12:18] News reporter: GM recognized and the state acknowledged that they could no longer use Flint water because it was destroying the engines. 


[12:28] Catrina Tillman: Like I always tell him, you know, God brought him to this place for such a time as this. 

[12:33] Julián Castro: So you get into town around the time that the Flint water crisis is truly coming into public attention. A lot of the folks listening to this remember the Flint water crisis, but there may be some who don’t or, you know, they heard about it, but they really don’t know how it went down. Maybe you could just tell us what happened. 


[12:58] Catrina Tillman: To sum it up, it was decisions made by human beings to target a location that is predominantly African-American and Hispanic, low-income. And it was a way for these individuals to become rich so that their grandchildren and great, great, great, great, great grandchildren can live well at the expense and the lives of Flint residents.


[13:30] Julián Castro: I think it’s worth diving into the history of Flint because it’s a distinctly American story. In the mid-20th century, Flint, Michigan, the birthplace of General Motors, was actually a hub for industry and innovation. But the 1980s brought an economic downturn. Auto plants closed. Workers were laid off and people moved away, leaving the once prosperous city in decline, with about 45 percent of its largely African-American population living under the poverty line. By 2011, the city was on the brink of a financial emergency. That was the backdrop for a series of disastrous decisions that ultimately led to the Flint water crisis. 


[14:25] Ezra Tillman: The first stages of the water crisis took place, we’re making a decision on, OK, how do you handle the finances of the city? 


[14:33] Julián Castro: Michigan Governor Rick Snyder decided to appoint an emergency manager to oversee budget cuts. 


[14:38] News reporter: All in all, we have tracked three emergency managers who had a role in this mess, all of whom replaced locally elected officials and all of whom reported just to Governor Rick Snyder. 


[14:48] Julián Castro: And one of the new leadership’s targets to save money was the city’s water supply. 


[14:55] News reporter: The trouble began two years ago when the state decided to switch Flint from Detroit’s drinking water to a new system. But the new system wouldn’t be ready for two years. 


[15:06] Ezra Tillman: So the short cut was. In the meantime, let’s use the Flint water until this water line is done. 


[15:14] Julián Castro: For years, the city piped in clean water from Detroit. But in 2014, they ended that contract in favor of the cheaper option, the Flint River. This water bore all the scars of Flint’s industrial past. 


[15:33] Ezra Tillman: For those who lived here, they had their own complaints about it. Some people have been drinking bottled water since the ‘80s because they like they was taught and raised. You don’t even fish in the Flint River. You don’t play with that.

[15:47] News reporter: The Flint River has a high salt content, so it corroded the pipes that it flowed through, and lead from those pipes leached into the system. Experts say that treatment from the beginning could have corrected much of the problem. 


[16:00] News reporter: It’s not that you should never use river water for drinking water. Plenty of places do. You just have to do it safely. You have to treat the water first so it doesn’t corrode the pipes. We now know that the state of Michigan, the Snyder administration, told Flint it was OK to switch to that new water source without the anti-corrosion treatment. 


[16:18] News reporter: A water quality expert tells NBC News that just $100 a day was all it would’ve taken to avoid this crisis. 


[16:27] Julián Castro: Despite repeated warnings from experts, city and state officials failed to alert the public. And instead, they assured residents that the water was safe.


[16:43] A local pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, was one of the first to sound the alarm. 


[16:49] Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha: When pediatricians hear about the possibility of lead anywhere, we absolutely freak out because lead is the most potent neurotoxin you can think of. 


[17:00] Catrina Tillman: She really brought a lot of attention to the Flint water crisis simply because a lot of her patients, i.e. children, because she’s a pediatric doctor. Their lead levels were skyrocket like off the chain. And so she kept sounding an alarm that, hey, something is going on with this lead. So when it came to this water crisis, being a mother, it tugged on my heart strings in a way that I don’t know that I can properly articulate. I just couldn’t take it. I’m like, we got to do something. 


[20:27] Ezra Tillman: Learning that the same week that I was actually called to this church was the same week they turned to switch on the Flint water crisis. And then a year and a half later, finding out I had certain members of my current nation who had been suffering from and I didn’t know it. It just kind of grates my heart. 


[20:42] Catrina Tillman: Where we live at, which is simply fifteen minutes outside of Flint, we would never have this issue of water where we live.


[20:49] Ezra Tillman: And I think my involvement really that has given me the heart behind it is that understanding coming to this community, we would have been right here in the middle of it. Just timing changed us from moving on the other side of the city and not being impacted. And so to look at other children, other mothers and grandparents, and to hear the stories and to leave the city to go outside the city, to rent a room for the weekend to bathe, you’re like, this ain’t right. I mean, what’s going on? And these stories don’t make the news. 


[21:21] Catrina Tillman: These stories you don’t you don’t see. But in a position that God placed us in in terms of serving, we saw firsthand.


[21:32] Ezra Tillman: And it wasn’t about race. It was black, white, Latino, it was everybody. 


[21:34] Catrina Tillman: Seriously, people were bringing their animals and talked about how their dogs were having issues because of the water. So, I mean, just think about it. If GM is saying that this water is corroding their steel parts to their cars. You have to think, OK, well, what is it doing to the human body, to the human anatomy, you know? And so for me, being a wife and a mom, you know, I just was just like, we have to do something. And so we got together and started doing our water distribution. And then February 1, 2016, we had the environmental justice rally with Reverend Dr. Jamal Bryant. And that’s when the world came to First Trinity. That was kind of like the second point that our lives changed because word got out nationally and internationally about this church in the city of Flint that’s given out water. So it was nothing for us after February 1, it was nothing for us on a Wednesday for two semi trucks, 18 wheelers to pull up. 


[22:42] Ezra Tillman: We started coming to church with blue jeans and jackets after a service, you took the suit off, it was time to unload. At this time we didn’t have equipment. So we was working on pallets, you know, case by case and then walking them into the fellowship hall and turning that into our warehouse. And now that that’s how it all started.


[23:09] Catrina Tillman: At one point at the peak of our water distribution, we had five warehouses, and then the grounds and garage full of bottled water. And it was simply through donations from strangers. And that’s why I always tell people, I understand when I saw our first lady, Michelle Obama, when she stated how she knows that there’s good people, I completely understand what she’s saying because we lived it. America has a soul. Like literally for the past four and a half going on five years, we’ve been able to give out water every single week, come rain, snow or sunshine. And that’s simply because of donations, strangers hearing about this church that needs water to give out to the community. So if it wasn’t for those people who also had compassion and who also had, you know, willing to serve and to help them whatever capacity they could, we wouldn’t be in a position that we’re in now. 


[24:17] Julián Castro: This brings us back to where we started the episode, the water box. In the immediate aftermath of the water crisis, the church was able to depend on the generosity of donors. At one point, the Tillmans had warehouses full of donated bottled water. But as the years went on, donations slowed down. Yet Flint residents still didn’t have reliable access to clean water. Celebrity actor and activist Jaden Smith stepped up and partnered with the First Trinity Church. The water box provides a longer term solution as residents continue to wait for all the pipes to be replaced. Pastor and First Lady Tillman are still out there every week distributing clean water to the community. 


[25:02] Catrina Tillman: You know, we’re passing out water, and when you see people come through our water distribution, which is essentially a water drive-through, and you see children in the back seat that have rashes on their wrist or on their arm or their face. When you see residents, you know, talk about how they have lost hair and they just simply comb their fingers through their hair and they have a glob of hair in their hands. If you are human and if you have any ounce of compassion in you, it does something to you, because you know that this is not a disaster such as a tornado or, you know, this isn’t a nature thing that took place. This was decisions that were made by people. And as a result, lives have been lost. You know, lives have been changed. And so I think the key thing that we cannot forget is that people have literally died. Simply because of these decisions that were made by other human beings, simply because of water. 


[26:10] Julián Castro: When I visited Flint and visited the water box, one of the things that I remember most distinctly was y’all telling me that it wasn’t just about the physical harm that the water had done, but also the psychological harm. That there were people that even still to that day did not feel comfortable drinking the water or, you know, sometimes even bottled water. They were traumatized by the experience. 


[26:43] Catrina Tillman: Yeah, it’s definitely present. We have, like you say, people who still will not drink to this day. Five years after this started, they will never drink from a tap with Flint water. Even so much, I remember going out of town with a church member and we were in a completely different state, the water was good and everything. We went to a restaurant and, you know, the server usually brings out water, you know, with lemons or ice or whatever, and she asked for bottled water. And I had to remind her. Listen, we’re not in Flint. She was like, it’s just I’m so sorry. Like, it’s just something that is just kind of second nature to many residents. 


[27:27] Julián Castro: The invisible toll of this crisis is impacting residents of all ages. The New York Times recently reported that, “the percentage of the city’s students who qualify for special education services has nearly doubled to 28 percent from 15 percent the year the lead crisis began.” The Tillmans are rolling up their sleeves to offer solutions that their community can trust. 


[27:50] Catrina Tillman: One of the things that we’re doing to expand our mission is we’re in the process of opening our own community health center called the Revive Community Health Center. And it’s going to aid children that are recently diagnosed with autism or other behavior issues because that is such a need. 


[28:12] Catrina Tillman: So we are here at the Revive Community Health Center, right across the street from First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church. We are giving away free school supplies. 


[28:26] Julián Castro: It’s nearly impossible to calculate the long-term health consequences of the water crisis. In August 2020, the state of Michigan reached a $600 million agreement to compensate Flint residents for the state’s role in failing to protect them from lead-tainted water. The settlement shows a majority of the funds will go to minors who are affected by this crisis. We think that this settlement, which is the largest in our state’s history, will go a long way towards making those state residents whole. 


[28:57] Julián Castro: The settlement is a good start, but there’s still many unanswered questions about exactly how these funds will be used. 


[29:03] Catrina Tillman: It’s one thing to slap a city with millions of dollars, but then only certain entities get access to those funds. I think grassroot entities, people who are actually in touch with the residents of Flint, we need to make sure that they, too, have a seat at the table when the recovery begins to happen in the city of Flint, because far too often we fund large institutions that aren’t necessarily doing the work and aren’t necessarily in touch with the people to know what work needs to be done. 


[29:44] Julián Castro: I remember when I visited, I got this vibe like people were tired of hearing from the politicians there. They had heard enough and seen enough. Talk to me about, you know, the what you see and how you feel and the community’s attitude toward politics and politicians versus the work that you’re doing that’s grounded in the community, that’s part of a church. 


[30:11] Ezra Tillman: I would say for me, I think that is the only reason why you may even know who I am. I think the local citizens here have heard the rhetoric from local government. They heard it on the TV. We heard it when President Obama came. And so the anger and frustration and feeling betrayal was all attached to the we can’t trust our government because our government put us in this situation. And we keep hearing the same rhetoric from those that we didn’t trust, even those we did trust. So they keep saying the same thing. Who can we trust? So locally, grassroot people have started to come together and people have myself to give opportunities to speak because they are listening to the language and then they listen for the compassion and they know what is authentic and what is coming from the heart. And they start to trust that we see you. We live among you, you live among us. And I think that as positive came in and partner with those folks that they know are doing the work they have followed and they have seen do community work, whatever, it builds a better bridge for politicians and for grassroots to get back to doing some effective work and community. 


[31:17] Catrina Tillman: Yeah. We can’t forget as to how Flint got into this. Our own governor at the time, Governor Snyder, who was saying that he didn’t know that there was a water crisis when there was documentation sent to him that this was going on. So when you talk about politicians and government, a lot of Flint residents just kind of turn a blind eye to it because it’s government that got us in this situation. 


[31:43] Ezra Tillman: And I must say this, too, because that’s the issue with trying to get people to the polls. If I vote, I’m still at a disadvantage. If I don’t vote, I’m still living from a point of disadvantage. You can’t see why people won’t go to the polls. 


[32:03] Julián Castro: How do you think we get out of that? What has to happen for us to get out of that dynamic with people? 


[32:09] Catrina Tillman: I think now, especially in the African-American community, with everything that’s taken place, when you talk about Ahmaud Arbery, when you talk about George Floyd, I think they’re like I said, there’s an awakening taking place to where they recognize that it’s not just about the presidential vote that affects my day to day life. It is knowing what judges are we voting for? What county prosecutors are we voting for? What sheriff are we voting for? Because this affects me personally. Who’s picking up my trash? You know, those types of things that affect our day to day life, I think within the African-American community, we’re starting to become more aware of because of the damage that has taken place as a lack of our participation in those local votes, we’re starting to see that. But your vote does matter. It  absolutely does matter. 


[33:07] Ezra Tillman: Let me add, I think it’d work if we double down with showing up, as you did, but also paying up. Making sure the resources that need to be put into this community are put there. You want to live in a good community. I do, too. You pay your taxes. I do, too. And then this education, it is about the information that we receive. I think that most of our communities are suffering from being educated of how to vote. Went to vote. If I can vote. And that’s in every area, it’s always about how you disseminate information and proper information and trust information, so I can make a firm and sound decision. 


[33:48] Julián Castro: The Flint water crisis really was in many ways about environmental racism. And you have a community whose residents right now are hurting from the impact, the economic recession of COVID. And also many of whom can very much relate to the experience of people like George Floyd’s family. 


[34:09] Catrina Tillman: Yeah. The murder of George Floyd, I think what it did and what it’s continuing to do is really put a huge mirror in front of these United States of America, where it’s forcing America to look at who we really are and really tell the truth about who we are. This is not America the Beautiful. We have potential to be, but there are some tough conversations and some some laws and things with and the grounds and the roots of these United States that must change.


[34:59] Ezra Tillman: It’s back to fundamentals. Those things in which we agreed about the beauty and the potential of this country are things that are forsaken now. You know, I thought about today just on the way, everyone ought to agree on what family means, what love means, what faith means. Those things now are blurred. Everyone has their own description of it. So when we get to understanding a picture of what it means to America, well, OK, your picture of America may be different than this part of America, however don’t neglect. They’re both pictures of America. And that’s a problem of us trying to get to a medium to say, OK, this is injustice. Some people just opt out not to have a conversation because it doesn’t affect me. That’s the hurting piece about what is happening. We’re watching that there are two different Americas before us. 


[35:48] Catrina Tillman: And the issue for me, it’s what our children are seeing. You know, we have an eleven year old, a 10 year old, eight year old and a three year old, and that three year old, any time I ride past a police car, he says, Mommy, there’s the police. No George Floyd. My three year old son. And some people listening to this may say, well, why would you let your son know about that? Because I’m raising a black boy in America. That conversation that I have to have with a three year old must be had because as he grows up, he needs to understand the dos and don’ts. Even though it’s not fair, I want you to come home. I want to make sure you make it home alive. And so it’s conversations that Caucasian parents don’t have to have with their children simply because that is not an urgent concern for them. You don’t have to worry about your son getting pulled over and dying simply because he went to reach for his insurance I.D. and then he gets shot. You know, those conversations you don’t have to have. And so for us, raising black boys in America, it’s just a completely different type of home training and rearing that we’ll have to have.


[37:19] Ezra Tillman: And that’s the picture of showing the two Americas that we don’t have the choice not to teach our children about what racism is. We don’t have the privilege that we can wait to a certain age until we start to have conversations, because if we don’t protect them and guard them from home what they experience in the street, that’s another trauma already on top of being who you are in American the first place. So you try your best to prepare your children even from two and three years old. And then it’s the other piece. Kids are smarter. My kid’s doing stuff on my phone that I still can’t figure out. So I can’t play into this picture that that’s not our reality. And so what we’re trying to do when we have conversations about Breonna, is that to say, listen, this is the reality in which we live and we invite you to understand what it means to be on this side of the track And then we want to understand how the track got there in the first place. 


[38:23] Catrina Tillman: Yeah, and I’ve had tough conversations with friends and people who follow on social media. And, you know, a lot of Caucasian people may say, well, what is it that you want from us? What is it that you want from me? And my answer is, I need you to listen. I need you to not assume anything based off what you were taught in school, and I need you to listen to the reality. 


[38:53] Ezra Tillman: We got to get back to a point America where we agree about some things. Some things are right. Some things are wrong. 


[39:04] Julián Castro: What is the our America that you’d like to see in the years to come?


[39:07] Catrina Tillman: I would like to see an America that acknowledges differences, because it does something to me when a person that’s not black says, well, I don’t see color. Well, if you don’t see color, then you will never see me. You will never acknowledge my history. You will never acknowledge my hurt. You will never acknowledge the beauty that comes with this dark chocolate sun-kissed complexion, you know? So I think we need to first acknowledge and accept that it’s OK to be different than what you see at the dinner table at home. I think respect needs to be instituted back into the fabric of the United States of America. Simple respect. I think if we start there, then we’ll begin to understand and be willing to listen. Because if I respect you, while I may not agree with you, I respect that this is your point of view and that this is your truth. But if we just come to the table and have these conversations and say, oh, no, that doesn’t happen in my neighborhood. Well, you’re right, it doesn’t happen in your neighborhood. But five blocks down or one city over, it does. And I just need you to acknowledge that. 


[40:29] Ezra Tillman: I think respect is an opportunity to get to a point of love. I think we always want to skip these certain ingredients to build relationships and being authentic. If you have a mutual respect, you can learn people. You can grow with people. And I think that the America I would like to see would be the one that will be true to our creed. Not this throughout these statements and these views and these pictures that makes us celebrate something and then not be responsible for our shames, for our history that we’re embarrassed about, those things and which we haven’t done so well. And to say now let’s do our part to correct it. I think in the future, if that is the mindset and view, it wouldn’t be a great separation because we realize whatever your race is, you have to eat/ Whatever community your child stay in, they need to have opportunities for clean water, to have opportunities for education, opportunity to build wealth. And it shouldn’t be just because you are certain color. You come from a certain area, whatever, that we limit your opportunities to keep you in an oppressive place, whatever, if all of us believe in American dream. And so moving forward, you know, I’m optimistic about seeing that through the work in which you are doing, being in your closet. To be authentic and real. But to be genuine enough to say, listen, we have to correct these problems and I’m going to do my part to enlist myself in that conversation and to do my part, to use my influence to make sure it happens versus me just turning my head or important conversation so things go back to normal. 


[42:17] Julián Castro: Thank y’all so much for joining me. You know, and wish all Godspeed as you continue your work. 


[42:28] Julián Castro: It’s hard to revisit the story of Flint without thinking about the current public health crisis we’re facing. America’s response to the Coronavirus reflects many of Flint’s most frightening errors. Again we’re seeing the fatal impact of disinformation and a failure to act quickly to protect the most vulnerable. For those willing to listen, there are lessons to be learned. Simple but effective solutions exist. Low-cost water treatment could have prevented the Flint water crisis just as early stay-at-home waters and mask mandates could have saved tens of thousands of American lives from COVID-19. 


[43:06] Julián Castro: Next week, we’re turning from water to another basic human need: food.


[43:39] Julián Castro: If you want to support the work of the First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, check out the links in the show notes, visit their Facebook page or go to 501C3.org. They’re still accepting donations of bottled water and contributions for the Revive Health Center. 


[43:59] Julián Castro: Our America is a Lemonada Original. The show is produced by Jackie Danziger. Our Associate Producer is Giulia Hjort. Kegan Zema is our editor. Music is by Hannis Brown. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and Julián Castro. Help others find our show by leaving us a rating and writing a review. Follow us @lemonadamedia across all social platforms or find me on Twitter @JulianCastro or on Instagram @JulianCastroTX


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