Posted on: July 22, 2011 Posted by: Felicia S. C. Gooden Comments: 0

Mann vs Ford is an HBO documentary about the lawsuit that the Ramapough Lenape Nation, residing in Ringwood, New Jersey,  brought up against Ford Motor Company in 2006 for negligent toxic poisoning. Ford Motor Company opened a plant in Mahwah, New Jersey and according to the film, the company would dump their paint sledge in the woods and streams near the communities of the residents of the area. As a result of the reckless endangerment, the residents of Ringwood, NJ have contracted numerous health ailments including lupus, pylon-ital cysts, diabetes and various cancers. Hundreds of residents have died in this area over decades due to the chemicals dumped in the drinking water and dispersed into the air.
Ford Motor Company and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) claimed that the area had been cleaned, yet the film crew, environmental scientists and the law team, lead by Vicki Gilliam, found this was false. If there was any cleaning done, it was minimal. The EPA was called out the the dump site once more and Ford was made to clean the site again. The clean up was minimal, if any, once more. The film reports that Ford Motor Company had cleaned up 45,000 tons of paint sledge from the area, but there is about ten times that amount still left in the abandoned iron mines in that area. The area is now known as a Superfund site, an abandoned hazardous waste site.
The Ramapough Lenape people of Ringwood, NJ settled with Ford Motor Company in 2008 for 11 million dollars, just as the company was almost bankrupt. The city of Ringwood, NJ gave the people 1.1 million dollars. However, since this winning was split up amongst over 600 residents, in which most were affected by some form of cancer or health ailment, this amount was no where near the amount that the people of the Ramapough Nation deserved. According to the film, shortly after the settlement was made Ford had incurred profits of 2.7 billion dollars, and in 2010 Ford incurred profits of 6.6 billion dollars. Of course big business got bailed out right after the settlement was made. How convenient?
Some will argue, “Why didn’t the residents just move from that area.” As a member of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, I will rebut that Native Americans have been killed off, tortured and chased away from their own land for centuries. My people, who do not come from riches, should not be made to move from their land because big business needs to be able to get away with destroying lives and nature. My people should be able to stay right where they are and live happy and healthy lives. The interests of big business should not be put before the best interest of the people who work for the company, and possibly purchase goods from that company.
Whilst watching this film I felt a mixture of emotions. I am a member of the Ramapough Lenape Native Amertican Nation, Deer Clan. I was blessed to not have been raised around the toxins, but that does not mean that I do not care for those in my bloodline that have been exposed. I now know that I will never truly know who my grandmother was mainly because of the negligence of Ford Motor Company and the Mahwah plant. I was hurt and enraged. As an American who understands that true reason for the original founding of our country, I am appalled. Yes our founding fathers had some skewed views, and yes they founded our country in horrific ways, but our country was not founded to “shit” on the members of this nation just as the British did them. Our country was founded “for the people, by the people” and as time has gone on, we have come to truly be the American dream where any and everyone can live and practice what they believe freely. Yet with corruption such as Ford Motor Company and the rest of big business, it seems as thought this country was founded “for the corporations, by the people.”  To know that the settlement included NO LIABILITY to Ford Motor Company further proves that saving face and big profits is the name of the game, and no group of impoverished people will ever have the true right to live freely and in good health in this country, because big business needs to dump their waste and continue to destroy out natural resources in their back yards.
We have a completely skewed sense of community. Actually, there is no sense of community. We ostracise groups of people because they do not aspire to be rich and live in huge mansions. No huge ambition means that one is a low life and will never be worth anything in the grand scheme of things. May we remember that there are small rural towns all over this country that live the same way that the Ramapough people of Ringwood, NJ do. They stay in their area, they have a close bond and they stick together at all times. These groups of people contribute to the success and greatness of America just as much as those who live in Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York City do. Big business should not be able to get away with mass killings of communities of people because that group of people does not aspire to have BMWs parked in every driveway. Every human being has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that should be respected by all people, their businesses, and our government.

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