Why I stand in solidarity with the Dakota pipeline protesters | Ijeoma Oluo

Black and Native Americans are fighting the same battle for justice in a system stacked against us

Ive been drawn to the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation since shortly after they started. While mainstream press coverage of the protests has been relatively scarce, Ive read whatever articles, watched whatever videos and followed whatever Twitter handle I could find in order to keep updated on the events unfolding in North Dakota, as Native peoples from around the country gather, yet again, to protect the land and water that they love.

While my work is most often focused on anti-black racism and its intersections with sexism, I feel a deep solidarity with these anti-pipeline protests. I feel it in my bones. I have a need to amplify news about them whenever I can, to encourage support whenever I can, to donate what I can. I have looked at flight costs over and over again, trying to decide if I should go there and literally stand in solidarity, or if it would be better for me to use those resources to help a Native person, who may not otherwise be able to, stand there instead.

As I scan articles for mention of other black Americans who feel the same solidarity with these protests, Im happy to find an increasing number. I want us all there, standing with our Native brothers and sisters. Our struggle is different and yet in so many ways the same.

I stand with Standing Rock, because we, like you, have had our babies stolen from our arms and our language and history stolen from our mouths. We, like you, have seen our culture turned into costume and our art turned into advertising.

We have all have seen our blood drench this soil in the name of white supremacy, our infant mortality rates climb in a system that aims to keep us in poverty and ill health. We, like you, have seen our men and women die in the streets at the hands of murderous cops. We see your water threatened today by the same carelessness and corruption that has ruined our water and threatened our health in Flint. And we see people look at you today and say, like they say to us: that the poverty and the incarceration and the illness and the crime its all your fault.

But we also see you fighting every day for your land and your history and your families and your future, just like we fight for ours. And as we march demanding that this white supremacist nation finally recognize that Black Lives Matter, you use your bodies as shields, demanding that your right for clean drinking water and for the autonomy of your land be respected.

You inspire many of us. And I know that we cannot topple a system of white supremacy if we are not willing to fight alongside any and all of those who are imprisoned by it. Your fight to preserve the land that we all stand on benefits us all. Your fight to preserve your autonomy benefits us all. And I thank you, and I hope that you know that when we march to end police brutality and the prison industrial complex we do so that your brothers and sisters will be safer too.

And so I pledge my solidarity to you, the Lakota, Lummi, Puyallup, Swinomish, Crow, Oglala, Navajo, Seneca and over 200 other nations who have gathered together to fight for your water and your land. I know that I am not alone in this pledge, and I am confident that many more of my black brothers and sisters will join me in saying that whatever you need, however you need us, well be there. Water is life.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/14/why-i-stand-in-solidarity-with-the-dakota-pipeline-protesters