Voting is incredibly important, but it is also crucial to remember that it is only one way in which to ensure the viability of our democracy. Next Wednesday, the election will be over, and there will still be millions of people in America whose human and civil rights aren’t being upheld. Our commitment to them and to improving our society does not and can not end with the mark of a ballot. Those at Standing Rock are facing incredible challenges, including militarized forced against them. I am the first to admit that I am ignorant when it comes to most environmental issues, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take a stand on this issue. It’s more than just an environmental issue– this is a group of indigenous people, who have been marginalized for hundreds of years and still today by mainstream American society, telling us that they are unwilling to have this pipeline run through their land. We have to listen and we must stand with them, in whatever way we can. And we as white Americans (for those of us who are, such as myself) must recognize that this is just another chapter in ongoing violence against native people, and that many of the systems that have oppressed native people over the passed hundreds of years are the same systems that have granted us our privileges.
I am in absolute awe of this community led movement that is non-violently resisting state troopers and a huge corporation. This is the biggest testament to democracy and to community led movements that I have ever witnessed. The attempts by North Dakota to stifle it (violently) shows how far away from a true democracy we actually are. The fact that the pipeline was re-routed from its original placement, because white residents complained, to Standing Rock shows how much less we value native life than white life. If we want to live in a real democracy, in which human and civil rights are protected, in which the lives of indigenous people and people of color are valued as much as white lives, then we must stand with Standing Rock.
I donated to the legal defense fund, because I am humbled by this movement and eager to support those fighting for their rights that they so badly deserve. Join me if you can, and if you can’t please share.
Also, read this incredibly important native perspective:
To donate: https://fundrazr.com/sacredstone
(Picture by Justin Deegan)