In a recent viral clip, 15-year-old water activist Mari Copeny, or Little Miss Flint as she’s come to be known, broke down into tears during her appearance on The Tamron Hall Show. “I’m sorry, it’s just been really hard trying to get money and stuff for this event because people haven’t been treating me very nice,” the teen says. “And it's just been very hard and it means a lot, really.”
Those of us familiar with Little Miss Flint will recognize the precocious teen from the years she’s spent organizing around the still ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan. At just eight years old, she first gained national attention after then-President Barack Obama replied to the letter she sent him raising awareness of the dire situation in Flint.
\u201cYes I cried on National tv. People tend to think I am always happy, but people sometimes are not nice. This year has been so hard to fundraise and even with the toy donation we still need to get closer to my goal. I have under a week to fundraise. \n\nhttps://t.co/JHat7hAq6F\u201d— Mari Copeny (@Mari Copeny) 1670623972
Since writing that letter, her online presence has been used to track the systemic failure that continues to ravage her community. On Twitter, she holds up a sign showing just how long residents of Flint have been without clean water. “Flint, Michigan, has been without clean water since April 24th, 2014.” Her most recent reminder would come this past April. Eight years later.
It's almost easy to forget behind all her impossible adorableness, that a Black girl has been robbed of her childhood by the evils of environmental racism. No amount of girlhood sweetness can sugarcoat the deep moral rot of a country that coerces Black girls out of their childhood and into a life of defending their right to simply exist. There’s no tidy bow to wrap around how this country would rather see Black girls beg for life-sustaining resources than just simply give it to them.
There are many hands that have steered us in the direction of this particular catastrophe. There’s the Flint, Michigan officials who decided to skim on costs by changing the city’s water supply to a supplier that would eventually lead to poor water quality. There’s Governor Rick Snyder whose gross negligence has only exasperated the water crisis. Then there’s Obama himself, who during his visit to Flint in 2016 drank a cup of what was purportedly Flint’s tap water as a gesture that the crisis was over. It should be noted that the crisis was not and presently is still not over.
The direct impact on the community has been immeasurable. There were all the illnesses from the lead exposure, some of which have resulted in multiple deaths. There’s also the mental strain it has taken on the residents.
Mostly I think about the toll it has taken on the youth of Flint, namely Copeny. If nothing changes, in two years, she will have lived longer without clean water than she lived with it. Another tragedy to add to this catastrophe’s unending list.
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Nicki Minaj is opening up about the significance of her involvement in the upcoming Barbie film, highlighting how the brand has impacted her career as she attended the Los Angeles premiere of the highly anticipated project.
From the beginning of Minaj's rap career, which dates back to 2007 following the release of her first mixtape Playtime Is Over, the star coined the nickname Barbie after the Mattel doll. Minaj's love for the toy and the brand's representation ran so deep that she continued to incorporate the Barbie persona in practically almost every project, including the cover of Playtime Is Over, where the “Queen” rapper appeared as a figurine trapped inside a box. Over time, the emcee nicknamed her fanbase The Barbz and created numerous titled tracks containing the word Barbie. The list includes "Barbie Tingz," "Barbie Drip," "Barbie Dreams," and the newly released "Barbie World" featuring Ice Spice as a part of the Barbie soundtrack.
During a July interview with Entertainment Tonight, Minaj explained why she considered being a part of the Barbie soundtrack a full circle moment and her initial thoughts about "Barbie World."
Nicki On Being A Part Of The Barbie Project
In the discussion, the 40-year-old revealed she was excited to lend her voice to the soundtrack because of her admiration for the Barbie brand.
"I'm so excited to be here and be a part of this entire moment. I'm glad that they thought of me because I'm excited just like everybody else is excited to see this movie", she said. "I know I've been saying Barbie my whole career. So it's a very full circle moment."
Further into the interview, Minaj shared that before making "Barbie World" --a sample of Aqua's 1997 hit "Barbie Girl"-- she was given several songs that she didn't vibe with. Still, after hearing the Aqua sample, Minaj came up with the idea to incorporate some drums to provide the track with a more urban feel.
"There were a couple of songs that I didn't love, and this Barbie sample, I loved it. I just wanted it to have a dope drum, and so the one that they sent me, I loved. I jumped on it right away," she stated.
Nicki Gives Thanks To “Barbie” Director And Mattel
Immediately following the premiere, Minaj took to Twitter to show her appreciation to Mattel, Barbie director Greta Gerwig, and the film's soundtrack producers Mark Ronson and Kevin Weaver for including her in this monumental occasion.
"Thx, Forbes & s/o all the incredibly talented artists/producers on the #BarbieMovie soundtrack. Mark Ronson, Kev Weaver, Greta Gerwig, Mattel," she said while mentioning how much it meant to her and the Barbz. "You guys could have chosen anyone to be a part of this project. Glad you knew how much it would mean to the Barbz & me. So Grateful."
The live-action Barbie follows the adventures of the figurine as she adjusts to real life after getting kicked out of Barbie land for her imperfections. The film stars Margot Robbie, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling, Will Ferrell, Alexandra Shipp, America Ferrera, Issa Rae, and many others
Barbie is set to make its theatrical debut on July 21.
Feature image by Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage