LISTEN: Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha Looks Back at Her Fight for Flint, Michigan

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha is a physician, scientist and activist who has testified before Congress, named one of TIME magazine’s most influential people in the world and awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America—and in 2014, she entered the fight of her life in Flint, Michigan.

Hanna-Attisha at the 2017 March for Science in Washington, DC. (Scattered1 / Creative Commons)

That year, the state shifted the city’s water supply from Lake Huron to the city river, and residents began to take note of a dangerous deterioration in its quality. When evidence of lead poisoning from the water in Flint would begin to make headlines, Dr. Hanna-Attisha—an immigrant, doctor, scientist and mother, and, then, a pediatrician at a public hospital in Flint—fought back, demanding accountability and clean water for her city.

A team of researchers, concerned families and community leaders eventually proved that Flint’s kids were exposed to lead and then fought a hostile city government to expose that truth to the world. Hanna-Attisha’s What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance and Hope in an American City tells the powerful story of that ongoing fight for justice.

In the following exclusive clip for Ms. readers, Hanna-Attisha recounts being hospitalized after a serious car injury when she just five years old—and then flashes forward to a moment in which she flipped the script and talked to young children in a hospital in her white coat, reassuring them that they would be okay after being poisoned by their own water.


Carmen Rios is a self-proclaimed feminist superstar and the former digital editor at Ms. Her writing on queerness, gender, race and class has been published in print and online by outlets including BuzzFeed, Bitch, Bust, CityLab, DAME, ElixHER, Feministing, Feminist Formations, GirlBoss, GrokNation, MEL, Mic, the National Women’s History Museum, SIGNS and the Women’s Media Center; and she is a co-founder of Webby-nominated Argot Magazine. @carmenriosss|