SAN MARCOS – Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, physician, scientist, public health advocate and author of the 2019-2020 Common Reading book “What the Eyes Don’t See,” which chronicled the Flint, Michigan, water crisis, will speak at Texas State University on Sept. 18 as part of the Common Experience Insight Series.
Hanna-Attisha will speak at 6 PM in Evans Auditorium. The event is part of Texas State’s 2019-2020 Common Experience theme on Truth.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha’s book, “What the Eyes Don’t See” is a firsthand look at the water crisis in Flint. In 2014, a change in the city’s water source resulted in astronomical amounts of lead leaching into the drinking water, causing irreversible damage to Flint’s residents.
As a local pediatrician, Dr. Hanna-Attisha was alarmed by the poisonous levels of lead in the water, and was shocked that the government ignored complaints, protests and reports from citizens, journalists and experts. She knew that the only way to stop the lead poisoning would be to present undeniable proof on a national platform.
Dr. Hanna-Attisha held a press conference where she revealed her team’s findings before they were peer-reviewed, prioritizing the health of her community over the risk to her career. Dr. Hanna-Attisha faced backlash, but her persistence paid off: the city switched the water back to its original source and President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency.
She has since been called to testify twice before the United States Congress, was awarded the Freedom of Expression Courage Award by PEN America, and was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”
“What the Eyes Don’t See” is a dramatic narrative of personal advocacy. A medical and scientific thriller, the book grapples with the country’s history of environmental injustice while telling the personal story of Dr. Hanna-Attisha, whose family roots in social justice activism helped her take on the Flint water crisis. She explores the horrific reality of how misguided austerity policies and callous bureaucratic indifference placed an entire city at risk.
A passionate activist, Dr. Hanna-Attisha created the Pediatric Public Health Initiative, a model program to mitigate the impact of the Flint water crisis. As founder and director of this organization, she combines community and clinical programs, childhood health policy and advocacy, and robust evaluation to give Flint children a better chance at future success.