I’m back home…and I’ve spent countless hours not really figuring out how to talk about my time at Standing Rock…I still don’t know how to talk about it, I’m still thinking about it…
I wrote a short piece for some friends on “Being an Ally”, and I figured I’d share it with you all as well. Thoughts, questions, and feedback are welcome…
Being an ally might not mean what you think it does…
At Standing Rock, I learned pretty quick that no amount of education beforehand can give you an ally pass. Being an ally is as much about seeing and owning your mistakes as it is about avoiding those mistakes in the first place.
I screwed up on day one. I had decided not to go to an action…and after several folks communicated that “everyone needs to go” I changed my mind and went…it was a confusing action, it felt reckless in a way I wasn’t comfortable with, and I spent most of the time taking photos of cops and trying to figure out what was going on. I came away feeling confused.
The following morning there was some good discussion around tactics, but the primary concern was white people going to actions and then hanging back and taking photos while Native folks get pepper sprayed…that was unacceptable, and I was totally one of those white people…and I felt pretty shitty about it.
And that’s okay…I was able to learn from it and change my behavior and help other folks learn from my mistakes.
I get it, we all want to be good allies, and part of this has got to be owning our mistakes, owning our shit. Being an ally is about actions, not just intentions. America has been turning a blind eye to it’s colonizing ways for centuries, and if we turn a blind eye to our own colonizing ways we’re not only part of the problem but also distancing ourselves from the solution.
There’s so much I could say…so many angles on this…so much context that really aught to be part of this discussion…and so short of writing an essay here are a few parting thoughts, all from my own perspective of course…
– What are the indigenous struggles in your area?
– Read/watch indigenous news sources first, Amy Goodman is great and totally not Native.
– If you have an important question, consider praying on it for two days, and see if the answer finds you. (yup, two days, not two minutes)
– What is the most effective way for you to support Indigenous rights and struggles? Maybe it’s not the fun sexy thing? Be honest about your choices, even if it feels uncomfortable.
– How can you support Native folks who want to go to Standing Rock? Can you support them before supporting your non-native friends?
– There’s so so so many things I could say…so many things we could all say…try listening longer than feels comfortable.
And on that note…I’m going to reel myself back in. Please send me feedback or questions though!