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Thursday, November 24, 2016

On This Thanksgiving, There Comes a Time When Silence Is Betrayal

These are difficult times.  If not for the ironic racial overtones, I might even say these are dark times.  I know that many of my friends, like me, are almost burnt out from reading the multiple news and social media stories about the growing number of hate crimes and Trump's latest appointments to his cabinet of deplorables.  For many of us, this Thanksgiving is an opportunity for us to gather amongst those we love, and either escape from the difficulties we're facing or vent or frustrations or both.

For most of my adult life, I have found it difficult to gather with family and not raise the historical contradictions associated with Thanksgiving.  Coincidentally, I'm also the one who's been known to interrupt 4th of July gatherings with copies of Frederick Douglass' "What to the Slave is the 4th of July?"  So it seems like a strange paradox that this year--a year in which more than usual we need to just come together and let each other know that we truly love one another--this year it's more important than ever that we NOT ignore the roots of this holiday and the plight of this land's first peoples.

This year, more than ever, we cannot just sit and enjoy our Thanksgiving meals and football games, and ignore the fact the right now--RIGHT NOW--at Standing Rock, North Dakota, our indigenous brothers and sisters, and many supporters, are having their human rights violated as they fight to protect their land and their water.

There is a lot I could say about the long history of African/African-American and Native American solidarity.  There's a lot I could say about the Seminole Nation, and other indigenous nations that actively resisted US slavery and welcomed runaway slaves.  But for those who don't want that much history, I think the video above speaks for itself.  If that video doesn't move you, then perhaps this one will.

There's a lot we need to fight against, and even more that we need to fight for.  But it is absolutely unacceptable that we continue to sit quietly as another marginalized group suffers.  We can't all travel to Standing Rock, but here are a few things we can do.

1. Contact President Obama: you can use the information at  You'll have options to call and/or submit comments online.  Do both!  It will take less than five minutes.  Ask him to stop construction, or at the very least, to send federal observers to protect the protestors.

2. As promted by Shaun King on Twitter, buy "Wish List" Items at Amazon: The DAPL Water Protectors have created a wish list of items that will help support the movement.  There are items at a variety of price ranges.  See

3. Donate to the Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) Health Clinic is a free health clinic partnership between Standing Rock Sioux Tribe traditional healers, university doctors, nurses and other organizations (also via Shaun King):

4. Help spread the word.  Forward/share this post, or follow #NoDAPL on social media and share.

If we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.  And just like Whites who are silent about structural racism and white supremacy, our silence amounts to betrayal.  We are better than that.

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