Beyoncé Knowles, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Mark Wahlberg — they are all new member of the expansive club of celebrities who have donated time and/or money to help residents of Flint, MI, in Flint’s recent struggle to get safe drinking water.
Beyoncé’s #BeyGood initiative will help Flint residents in both the short and long term. Not only will it be delivering thousands of filtration systems and truckloads of fresh bottled water to Flint, but Beyoncé’s foundation will also start a fund that will “address long-term developmental, education, nutrition and health needs of the children affected by the Flint Water Crisis” for years to come, according to the site of Live Nation Entertainment, the agency behind Beyonce’s upcoming Formation world tour.
“True to her life’s work of always giving back,” the release reads, “fans will be given the opportunity to participate in Beyonce’s #BeyGOOD initiative supporting local United Way programs and the continued work surrounding the water crisis in Flint, MI.”
Her new initiative in Flint is by no means Beyonce’s first act of activism. The Beyoncé “Formation” music video released just this past weekend was both an ode to victims of hurricane Katrina and a #BlackLivesMatter rallying anthem. Beyoncé’s Super Bowl half time performance of “Formation” may have been ripped apart by many critics — and Rudy Giuliani — because of its strong and potentially offensive racial undertones, but the fact remains that Beyoncé is a staunch activist.
Meanwhile, Mark Wahlberg and Sean “Diddy” Combs, who are co-owners of AQUAhydrate, an electrolyte-enhanced bottled water company based in Los Angeles, joined forces to donate 1 million bottles of fresh water to Flint residents.
Beyoncé, Wahlberg, and Combs are far from the first ones to lend a hand to Flint, MI, during the town’s water crisis, though. The amount of celebrity aid Flint has received is staggering. Big Sean recently started a fundraiser to help the children of Flint lead healthier lives. Rapper The Game donated $500,000 to Flint’s town fund. Aretha Franklin helped out in Flint, too. As did Eminem. And Pearl Jam. And Cher, Jimmy Fallon, Madonna, Wiz Khalifa, Michael Moore, Jack White, Meek Mill, Rosie O’Donnel, Judd Apatow, Seth Meyers, the Detroit Lions management, just to name a few.
The huge contingency of celebs who, like Beyoncé, have stepped up and donated to the cause has certainly helped Flint residents during the ongoing water crisis, but the tens of millions of dollars that have been donated can only provide a treatment, not a cure, for Flint’s issue.
Rick Snyder, Michigan’s governor, estimates that replacing Flint’s corroded pipes and fixing the problem for good would cost $767 million, and some sources say fixing Flint’s plumbing will actually cost over $1 billion, reports the New York Times.
That is not a figure that could realistically be obtained from any amount of good samaritans. Even if Beyoncé were to donate her entire net worth, which Forbes estimates to be $250 million, it would not solve the issue — Flint, MI, needs government intervention.
“That is not a short-term project in terms of ripping up all the infrastructure, replacing all that. That can take an extended period of time. It’s months or years to do all of that,” Snyder told CNN when asked about pipe reparations in Flint, MI.
“There was a failure of government in terms of people not using common sense enough to prevent this from happening and identifying it soon enough… and the people that did this work for me, so I am responsible. My focus now, though is how do we address it? How do we follow up? How do we help these parents and these kids that could go on for years?”
The people of Flint, MI, and much of the nation would like to know the same thing, governor.
[Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images, Victor Chavez/Getty Images, and Matt Cowan/Getty Images]