The Gentrification of Standing Rock

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The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby Aum » Sat Apr 8, 12:39 2017

Here is the article I mentioned in the other thread:
https://nplusonemag.com/online-only/onl ... ding-rock/

Sometime in mid-October, a school bus full of New Orleanians pulled into Oceti Sakowin, the largest of the prayer camps at Standing Rock. It was followed by a truck hauling poles for a forty-foot tipi. They raised their shelter at the western edge of camp, near the tent of a Lakota elder named Grandma Redfeather. They came to stand in solidarity against the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens the waters of the Lakota people as well as millions who live downstream.

The bus and the tipi were owned by white folks from the Rainbow Family, a loose network of hippies united by utopian principles. Through the free gatherings they host on public lands around the world, the Rainbow Family practices various forms of counterculture. These particular Rainbows had been serving food for flood victims in western Louisiana when they heard about the prayer camps in North Dakota. They stopped in New Orleans, where they picked up some locals: Creole folks, Mardi Gras Indians, white allies, Choctaws from Louisiana, and others of indigenous descent. The Rainbows and the New Orleanians journeyed together to Standing Rock.

While they were setting up camp, some indigenous elders came by to offer advice. Many had never seen such a tall tipi, and they wanted to make sure it stood strong. The Rainbows refused help. They’d slept in this thing at plenty of gatherings, where they’d dug latrines, built fire pits, and run kitchens outside. They knew what they were doing—and soon enough, they promised, they’d be serving food for everyone.

Lit by a fire inside, the giant tipi became a social melting pot, where people of all skin tones came to eat gumbo and learn songs like “Li’l Liza Jane.” The eclectic delegation from New Orleans became known as “the tribe of the Gumbo Ya-Ya.” They connected with Grandma Redfeather, who knew some of the Rainbows from attending their gatherings. One of the original members of the American Indian Movement, Grandma Redfeather took up arms against the government in the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee and hasn’t stopped fighting since.

The Gumbo Ya-Ya stayed for a few days, trading stories and songs, and left on the night of a full moon. The Rainbows and their tipi stayed behind.

As the full moon rose, the night was alive with drumming and yelps. A group of women and Two-Spirits from the Ojibwe tribe led a moon ceremony. It was a moment for the many different peoples at Standing Rock to come together and heal. The suppression of their efforts to protect the river was the latest trauma in a long history of colonial violence.

The next morning began with a fierce wind, which Grandma Redfeather said was going to blow some bad energy out of camp. Not two hours later, a cry went up around the spirit fire at the center of Oceti Sakowin: the giant tipi’s coming down!

The winds had torn the canvas flaps where the tipi poles come together, threatening the entire structure. Some Natives rushed over to try to help, taking hold of the canvas and explaining how the tipi might be saved. Once again, the Rainbows didn’t listen. They insisted on handling the crisis alone. Soon, their canvas was ripped all the way around, leaving only the poles standing. It looked like a giant ribcage.

The Rainbows packed their stuff and were gone from camp by nightfall. Nobody asked them to leave; they just couldn’t find their place.


This article is a great example of how white people and those who haven't debunked their own relationship to the patriarchy have a hard time deferring to the marginalized and disenfranchised when they show up to "help". I have to admit, if I were at the Standing Rock camp, I would've had a hard time figuring out how to not leave a troublesome footprint in my wake, or do things to harm the collective. But the obvious thing would be to defer to the native eldership, see what is needed, and see how it can best be done.

This is why when people in the west point fingers at misogyny overseas and how we need to rescue women, or POC, or poor people, we need to turn inward and examine our own tendency to want to correct others on OUR TERMS. It has been the source of a lot of suffering in the world.

IMO if we can't take the queue from the people we want to help, then we shouldn't bother.
The artist's job is not to succumb to despair, but to find an antidote to the emptiness of existence. -W.A.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby sadsmile123 » Sun Apr 9, 1:27 2017

Well, I'm happy these activists at least tried to. I think counting western successes is an unpopular argument, whether infrastructure, reforms, technology (which can be a bad thing as well) or medicine. Discriminatory views are accepted today as long as they are against what is perceived to be the stereotypical Western culture, i.e., white, male, western people, and whole disciplines are built around this concept. I think these kind of arguments are already discriminatory in their view, pinning down one's own identity because of one's own membership to a group. They impose identity on these officially non-discriminable groups, count up failures and do not concede successes. they put apparently unbiased identity over actual issues. The same goes for the former thread: today's mainstream discourse puts identity and personal feelings on a higher level than life-threatening issues in the Middle East (or anywhere else). Again, I don't think that it ought to be a black-or-white-issue, where either you impose laws or you remain static: I think there are many degrees towards an approach on problems in the Middle-East (one should be aware of the means used and possible conflicts of interest). However, it should be recognised that you cannot expect to have an answer in a conversation you don't take part in, anyway. Not taking any stand is not a solution.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby Taurwen » Sun Apr 9, 18:16 2017

sadsmile123 wrote:Well, I'm happy these activists at least tried to.


The problem is, "Tried to help" isn't necessarily the least activists can do. It can actively be harmful. If you're taking energy away from the people who are actually helping, if you're replacing a bad system was a different bad system. If you're causing problems. These are all bad things.
These are why men so often get shut down in feminist spaces, this is why white women often get shut out of groups of WOC, this is why feminists are, rightly, hesitant to go marching into the middle east proclaiming their superiority.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby sadsmile123 » Mon Apr 17, 7:01 2017

Taurwen wrote: It can actively be harmful. If you're taking energy away from the people who are actually helping, if you're replacing a bad system was a different bad system. If you're causing problems. These are all bad things.
These are why men so often get shut down in feminist spaces, this is why white women often get shut out of groups of WOC, this is why feminists are, rightly, hesitant to go marching into the middle east proclaiming their superiority.


Hi Taurwen,

the only solution this forum knows is doing nothing. Any support is already frustrated at the idea of doing anything wrong. You say because someone has the potential to do harmful (and helpful) things they are rightly shut down. That is a non-sensical argument. Who doesn't have the potential to do anything wrong? Why do you put a dual identity of being either right or wrong, superior or inferior, savior or saved, over actual issues of debate. Why do you put appearance over content? Who thinks like that at all? I don't think that face is more important than issues. Do you really think that rejecting any femnist participation in the east is a logical consequence? I wouldn't agree.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby Sonic# » Mon Apr 17, 7:41 2017

the only solution this forum knows is doing nothing.


That's an overgeneralization. I think the article illustrates that allies need to listen carefully to the advice given to them by the people they're trying to help: how will they put their efforts to best use? what local knowledge should they consider before putting up a tent impractical for the area, or declaring they will give food out?

Allies are tremendously useful, but diverting resources from the community they're trying to help does more harm than good. The solution isn't "never offer support." Allies need to be responsive to the conditions and needs of each locale they work with, and that requires actively listening to local leaders in the community we're trying to help.

It also really helps if allies come into it not thinking it's just or primarily for them. I might be more optimistic than Aum, in that I think allies can do this, and many do. Even so, these allies are not perfect, and need to keep in active practice the lessons they've learned.

You say because someone has the potential to do(ne) harmful things they are rightly shut down.


Taurwen might correct me, but I don't think she was writing about the potential to do harm. She was writing about when allies have (often unwittingly) done harm, as the article describes. I omitted "and helpful" because that's not a part of Taurwen's point, but it anticipates your own.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby rowan » Mon Apr 17, 21:24 2017

There are plenty of ways allies helped with Standing Rock. We did it by listening to the elders there and supporting them in the way they wanted us to: by not coming, by donating money and supplies, by going to local rallies and putting pressure on our local communities and police forces to not be complicit (or actually going there). There are a ton of activist things you can to but the thing anyone outside the community affected needs to do is FUCKING LISTEN TO WHAT THEY WANT.

Which is pretty much what we all say. We don't say do nothing. We say listen to the people who are impacted and follow their direction. I know it's hard for us white people to get that through our thick skulls but FFS it's really not that hard.


By the way I believe the current request is for legal fees, as they are still fighting in court. I haven't heard anything for a couple of weeks though, so check in with that.
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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby Taurwen » Tue Apr 18, 19:01 2017

sadsmile123 wrote:Why do you put a dual identity of being either right or wrong, superior or inferior, savior or saved, over actual issues of debate. Why do you put appearance over content? Who thinks like that at all? I don't think that face is more important than issues. Do you really think that rejecting any femnist participation in the east is a logical consequence? I wouldn't agree.


Sonic was pretty dead on in their comment. But I wanted to address this specifically. I think allies are super important, and I never meant to imply otherwise. But it's hard to be an effective ally.
I put dual labels on things because is the real world people who are trying to better themselves, the lives of those around them, their communities don't have the energy to walk well-meaning but hopeless people through why what they are doing is unhelpful.
I would argue I don't put appearance over content at all. In fact the opposite. I'm a white Canadian who gets by well enough. Me speaking out against something happening in a country I've never been to, in a culture I've never been apart of does nothing. Absolutely nothing. I don't want to speak for other women in situations I don't comprehend. It might make me feel better, and some of my friends might admire how brave and compassionate I am. But I might also eff something up and the women I (theoretically) am trying g to help will have to divert their attention from their real problem to clean up the mess I've made.

This doesn't mean I do nothing. I give to charities that work towards education girls, I'm careful about what companies get my money, I listen when women speak.
It may not seem active enough for you, but I don't need to look like I'm helping to the detriment of the cause I've chosen. I don't think that's illogical.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby rowan » Wed Apr 19, 9:31 2017

Examples of things I do:

Go to Black Lives Matter events that white allies are requested to be present for
Donate $$ and food to things that BLM, Standing Rock have requested
Go to various anti-racism things (e.g. conferences, groups, etc) that have been organized by/with impacted minoritized groups
Work on implementing anti-racist things here at my work where I have some very small amount of leverage in conjunction with and at the request of impacted groups
Make sure that I spend time educating myself about issues by reading feminist perspectives by women of color in the impacted communities so that they don't have to teach me 101 level shit all the time.

Things I do not do:
Go barging in thinking I know everything because that just fucks things up for the people impacted and draws their resources away at best and at worst endangers their lives more.
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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby sadsmile123 » Fri Apr 21, 18:48 2017

Hi everyone,

In order to make it easier to reply to all of you, I have taken a normal way of quoting though copy and paste and haven't changed it (when I adapted pronouns “I”>”you”, I did it through round brackets). You can control it.
It should be noted that this thread is a follow-up to "Feminism Outside the West", where although you may have changed the place - from Middle-Eastern countries, especially Saudi-Arabia (where women were rejected for not complying to marital laws, possibly killed and the other examples shown), to North America's natives -, you still want to argue on the same concept as a whole: the limits of interaction for people who live outside that country/community/etc. (you call them "saviors", a term which I reject in the first place because of the complacently biased connotations of image over content that would again shut down any debate)

Sonic:
I generally agree that it needs planning, but I would not use the argument of planning
The answers of other users in this thread do not allow any new influence to enter a debate on foreign ground.
“Allies are tremendously useful, but diverting resources from the community they're trying to help does more harm than good. The solution isn't "never offer support." Allies need to be responsive to the conditions and needs of each locale they work with, and that requires actively listening to local leaders in the community we're trying to help.”
>Well, you concede that allies may be helpful, which is already a lot, but you don’t specify how (the modality), whose restrictions in other user comments I could not agree with. You are also simply stating that help may divert resources (which it may or may not do), which according to you does more bad than good things.

Rowan’s 1st message:
"I know it’s hard for us white people to get that through our thick skull"
> who said I’m white? And who says white people have thick skulls? This is an example of the socially accepted discrimination I was talking about earlier, perfectly embedded into a feminist discourse. It is claiming people’s attitude and intelligence based on their skin colour only because that skin colour is not socially accepted as discriminable. It is putting social (and possibly racial) membership over individual charcater. Or do you mean with "white" someone raised up in a western country or influenced by western thought? I could kind of understand that, but wouldn’t agree to the generalization.

Taurwen:
"their communities don't have the energy to walk well-meaning but hopeless people through why what they are doing is unhelpful.“
Later on, you say you "don't want to speak for other women in situations (you) don't comprehend“
> As for the first citation here, this is condemning everyone's debate or influence on any possible issue. As for the second citation, that is indeed doing nothing. It presupposes everyone outside is blind because of the cultural differences. It denies any human universality across cultures, and denies any interaction that does not do what they do. You are not allowed to bring any new elements into the debate because you are hopeless anyway if you don't do what they do, which does not make sense. Is it any better that a man punches a woman if that happens in an Arab country? Certainly laws won’t necessarily prohibit it, so it is fine up to a certain point, but I see space for debates, whether from someone who was born and raised there or not.

"It might make me feel better, and some of my friends might admire how brave and compassionate I am" > Another instance of appearance over content. Again, you are deciding for me what my thoughts are and try to put me onto some kind of chivalrous lane. I'm only interested on being able to debate over actual matters without having a feminist shitstorm coming at me, accepting blindly whatever is part of a culture, regardless of minorities in that culture who are not allowed to express themselves. I cannot take this hippie view on a cultural ecosystem, highly discriminating on other groups.

Afterwards, you blatantly divert the actual debates on a general question of giving something to charity.
Rowan says something similar in his first message: "We say listen to the people who are impacted and follow their direction." > that is not a contribution in a discourse. That is giving up the whole discourse, following what they are saying. Isn’t that covering up for actual causes? Accepting and ignoring sexism in other countries, isn't that a form of racism?

“It may not seem active enough for you, but I don't need to look like I'm helping to the detriment of the cause I've chosen. I don't think that's illogical.” > The thing is, again, I don’t care about appearance (“looking like I’m helping”). At this point, it is simply annoying. As already stated, much of feminism wouldn’t exist if women cared about having a positive or a negative image. We are still discussing matters. If you take the natives in America to support the argument that all people outside a given community/culture cannot do anything if they don’t do what the people of that community tell them to do, then actually your idea of support is, through its partiality, already harming.

Rowan 2nd message:
Just as Taurwen names a few options to be part of debates only in one’s own culture. Nobody wants to contribute to an actual debate over sexism in the Middle East, but it is helpful to divert the attention to the “white men’s guilt” through BLM protests and examples of harm to native populations.

“Things I do not do: Go barging in thinking I know everything because that just fucks things up for the people impacted and draws their resources away at best and at worst endangers their lives more.” > this is the best of idea of what could come out when you actually engage in a debate about sexism in the Middle East. A debate with you is like talking to a machine. Everything one does that is not conceded from the start is harming in a catastrophic end-of-world way.


You all seem to put an empirical barrier, where issues cannot be debated because of culture, in order to deny any interaction that does not fit. If you said that that applied only to the native populations, I would understand that because as far as I know native populations in America do not do what is done to Middle-eastern women. You want to overextent from the native example to all examples of “saviorism”, which is what I don’t agree with. You are saying to simply accept the dynamics of the culture and the concepts that are already in it. If my culture said that men could hit and possibly kill women, according to that argument one would have to follow the lead or accept the matter, and I cannot agree with that.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby Taurwen » Sat Apr 22, 18:45 2017

I have a background in Anthropology, which has a history of being very racist, sexist (who's still pissed about the female viking warriors?
I am!) and messing with cultures, so my education has very much taught me to not make rash judgements.
If you want to argue ethics of any one act that's something. If you want to actually help people that's a more delicate dance.

There's also an difference between cultures and laws. For example: Where I live smoking marijuana is illegal. But most people do it, very people care, and the police get shit when they make a charge. Looking at our drug laws only gives you the vaguest ideas of what our culture's values.
Someone coming in and blowing pot smoke in a police officers face and screaming about how awesome marijuana is wouldn't be helping the cause of legalization at all. They'd be hampering it. Because they don't understand our culture, because they are a foreigner who didn't bother asking our opinions.

I was very general in my comments before. Because I understand how complex cultures can be and how much effort it would really take to understand what another (singular) culture really means, the idea of doing it for an entire country, or region like "the middle east" seems hopeless. And again, if you're talking about something like the normalization of violence against women (I might argye the normalization of violence) at best you might be able to make it illegal. But so? If it hasn't become so due to a paradigm shift in the culture it doesn't matter what the law books say, and I fully believe you can only have a cultural paradigm shift that was seeded from within. Years of Roman and British/French/Spanish occupation should have taught us that.

So it comes down to how you as an outsider can make real change in a culture. I told you how I decided to do it. And I'm attempting to explain why I chose those ways. I'm not sure I've followed your issues with my personal methods. If you just want a list of things other cultures find appropriate that I do not I can certainly provide it, but I don't think doing so is helpful, useful, or adds anything. L

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby Sonic# » Sun Apr 23, 18:07 2017

It's hard to respond to this as a whole, since many people's comments seem to be misconstrued to an extreme of isolationism, when what I'm seeing is encouraging respect for problem-solvers closer to the problem.

I generally agree that it needs planning, but I would not use the argument of planning
The answers of other users in this thread do not allow any new influence to enter a debate on foreign ground.


Sure they do. Your insistence they don't relies on misreading what they're saying, as Taurwen has made clear. Rowan's post and your reply to it is a good example of this dynamic, where rowan sets out a number of ways that allies can help a community, but you focus almost exclusively on the (rather limited) proscription that allies shouldn't disregard the people they're trying to help.

“Allies are tremendously useful, but diverting resources from the community they're trying to help does more harm than good. The solution isn't "never offer support." Allies need to be responsive to the conditions and needs of each locale they work with, and that requires actively listening to local leaders in the community we're trying to help.”
>Well, you concede that allies may be helpful, which is already a lot, but you don’t specify how (the modality) , whose restrictions in other user comments I could not agree with. You are also simply stating that help may divert resources (which it may or may not do), which according to you does more bad than good things.


Yes, a community diverting resources because they have to address the ineptitude of an ally does do bad, and allies are responsible for avoiding imposing those costs. It certainly was more bad than good in Standing Rock, where a large tent collapsed and people sacrificed their time and efforts to try to save it and then to clean it up.

As for how allies may be helpful, that depends on what the community needs. The local community should ultimately set the "modality," whether it's technical expertise, money, resources, or people giving aid on the ground. Problems most often start when allies decide for the community what they need.

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Re: The Gentrification of Standing Rock

Postby rowan » Sun Apr 23, 20:24 2017

White people cannot be discriminated against because white people hold power. As for the "we" I was referring to my social status, not necessarily including yours. However your intentional refusal to believe that you should talk to people impacted leads me to believe that whether or not you are actually white, you certainly have steeped in white supremacy that you need to deal with (as all of us who live in white supremacist cultures have, to some degree or another). Of course I don't specify *how* to talk to those people because that depends entirely on which community you're trying to help, and also I am not the person to speak for them. You want to help someone? Ask them how.
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