Why Standing with Standing Rock Matters
I woke up this morning to a Facebook feed full of posts of friends “checking-in” at Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Considering who my friends are and because I know several friends who are making plans to travel to Standing Rock in the coming days, I thought, “Wow, that is incredible. I can’t believe ‘so and so’ and ‘such and such’ are at Standing Rock, right now!”
Three days ago, the Rev. John Floberg sent an open letter calling for any and all Episcopal lay people and clergy who could, to come to Standing Rock and the Oceti Sakowin Camp of water protectors, and stand together in solidarity and witness, in the very place the Rt. Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, has called “the new Selma.”
Describing the current situation at Standing Rock, Rev Floerg wrote:
“In recent days, the repressive power of the state has increased: armed riot police are guarding ongoing pipeline construction, increased arrests and repression of non-violent prayerful action. At the same time, Oceti Sakowin water protectors have reclaimed land never relinquished by treaty directly in the path of the pipeline and established a new camp. Our duty as people of faith and clergy could not be clearer: to stand on the side of the oppressed and to pray for God’s mercy in these challenging times.”
I want to go. I want to be there. I want to take an actual, physical stand to protect water and land and life and HUMAN BEINGS. But I can’t. Not this time. Family, work, and finances make an actual, physical trip impossible for me to take.
It didn’t take me long to realize what was happening. Friends were checking in at Standing Rock, even though they were not actually, physically there.
Now this post is popping up over and over again on Facebook:
“The Morton County Sheriff’s Department has been using Facebook check-ins to find out who is at Standing Rock in order to target them in attempts to disrupt the prayer camps. SO Water Protecters are calling on EVERYONE to check-in at Standing Rock, ND to overwhelm and confuse them. This is concrete action that can protect people putting their bodies and well-beings on the line that we can do without leaving our homes. Will you join me in Standing Rock?”
There are those who question “Social Media Activism” and say that is not real; that it doesn’t actually accomplish anything except making people feel good about themselves, like they have actually contributed to “the cause.”
In this case, if my check-in or your check-in at Standing Rock makes it harder for those who are actually there, putting their bodies on the line, to be targeted, harassed, and harmed by law enforcement — then that is real.
If this flood of Facebook posts provides evidence that thousands of Americans see this event for what it truly is: another example of profits over people; another aggressive colonizing of people and land deemed “other,” and therefore disposable; another example of “the extractive economy;” another “aspect of the violence that indigenous peoples have been experiencing for over 500 years,” — then that is real.
Real life is lived where we are and millions of us are on social media. So if standing up for what we believe includes “checking-in” on-line, then that feels pretty real to me.
We must continue to find the courage to stand up for what is right, no matter what people say — to our face or in their comments.
If standing together activates our collective power to change the world — then that is real.