The poet, author and filmmaker approaches Detroit and Flint's most pressing issues.
The last few years have seen terms like "gentrification," "failing education" and "water crisis" frustratingly thrown around Detroit and Flint. But poet, author and filmmaker Nzinga LeJeune is turning her anger into action. She's put together a collection of 29 original poems called #WaterINJustice and a 23-minute documentary short by the same name. Both attempt to tackle these oft-debated topics – and others.
"People really appreciate this book. The thing I get the most is, 'Thank you for telling the truth.' A lot of Flint residents just want the story to stay relevant," says LeJeune, who grew up on Detroit's east side. The book is available at the Charles H. Wright Museum gift shop and on her website. The documentary will also be online as soon as judges at the Pan African and Sundance film festivals make their selections in January. LeJeune has submitted a five-minute version to each.
"I hope to bring awareness and to bring truth," LeJeune says. She's also working on a full-length documentary called Bankruptcy vs. Democracy: Detroit Won't Die and a kids' activity book – also under the #WaterINJustice brand.
"I think it's important that children understand that regardless of where they live or of their socio, political or economic situation, they deserve clean water. The United State is the richest country in the world, and you're telling me we can't make sure families have clean, running water? It's irresponsible."
How Many Years
I wonder how many years a person gets for trying?
I wonder how many years you get for lying?
I wonder how many years it takes to clean what matters?
Right now Water is the only real thing and what really matters
I can live without food for 40 days and 40 nights
I can't live without water for 3 days or 3 nights
I got the mail today
The water bill came today
I wonder if I can survive
If I don't pay?
Will I live if I don't pay?
Will I die if I just pray?
How many years you get to take my life
And blame my inability to Capital as my vice?
So I wonder
How many years …