Burning Man. Oregon Country Fair. The John Muir Trail. “Because it’s there.” Buddhist retreats. Trekking in Nepal. Firefly gathering. Rainbow gathering.
I traveled to Standing Rock in November of 2016 with my friend, hauling over 5000 dollars worth of winter tents, clothing, food, and gear. My full time job allowed me to stay barely a week, and my ego, mixed with a hefty dose of white savior mentality, convinced me that my training as an EMT, and my lifetime of experience with direct action and social justice, would make me useful. Fast forward 5 days, and I was crying in the driver’s seat of my car, while my amazing friend listened quietly as I grieved for something I didn’t know I had ever lost.
Standing Rock is an incredible place. An indigenous led prayer ceremony, populated by resistance movements from every corner of the globe, many of them bound to each other by shared and distinct traditions of dance, song, storytelling, and way of being in the physical world. Like any indigenous and overwhelmingly powerful place, white people had decided to take it. White people, like me, were arriving to SR in droves, some of us even dressed like it was Burning Man, forcing our way to seats right next to the sacred fire, putting our pasty faces too close to elders and demanding that they teach us their culture, clumsily mimicking centuries old dance traditions, jostling for position in the lines for free food, taking up so much space that the medicine tent had to be guarded 24/7, and young Dakota men were placing themselves in front of elders to protect them from the onslaught of questions and poking and consumption an demands for emotional labor and reliving centuries of trauma. By the time we arrived, SR elder organizers had begun holding twice a day orientations, where each of these things was addressed, and indigenous folks were demanding that white people stop colonizing their space. Yes, colonizing their space.
“White people have no culture.”
Every once and a while we get one of these “white person writes why white people suck” blogs. This one has some things that make sense but for the most part is just a big, long, SJW mess. My favorite line of the whole thing is “white savior mentality,” I’ve heard a lot of dumb things, like the teacher who got in trouble for giving a class clown award. Click the link to read.
Everything is about race. It’s exhausting having to see every single little event have to be turned into a racial issue. Look I get it. White people have it a little better. We haven’t been stereotyped for years, or picked apart for the color of our skin, until recently. You can’t be proud of being white. It’s considered racist for me to say I’m happy I’m white. We are supposed to be ashamed of the color of our skin to make up for something that no one living was a part of: slavery. Sam Dekker summed it up perfectly.
Also, white people do have a culture. You ever went to Ruby Tuesday? I think that’s one of our main cultural aspects. How about Whole Foods? The list goes on, we don’t have to be ashamed of it. Nor do we have to apologize for something we didn’t do. Casinos as well, that’s white culture.Follow @beertalkwileyp