One of the things about the topic of Whiteness in America that we usually assume is that the racism at hand is directed from white people to black. And it’s true, the vast majority of cases are so, but one instance in the recent news shows that this is not always the case. The Dakota Access Pipeline was originally going to be built in Bismarck, North Dakota, which is the capital of the state and constituted of a predominantly white population. The majority of the residents protested the project, so it got relocated to Standing Rock, which is a much smaller Native American reservation.
The people of Standing Rock protested as much as or more than Bismarck, but to no avail. The North Dakota government gave them a deadline to clear the area, but instead of leaving, many protestors stayed and set fire to their camps as a dramatic stance against the racism. However, this only led to the arrests of several holdouts, perpetuating the inequality of the issue. Clearly, this incident has many layers of racism, but the underlying premise is that the white people of Bismarck had their demands met while the Native Americans of Standing Rock were treated as violent criminals, which violates the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie that gave the Lakota tribe ownership of the land. The government of North Dakota disregarded this, and proceeded to ostracize the Lakota from their own territory.
This is an unfortunate example of the widespread racism that still plagues our country. It is not limited to African Americans, but reaches every depth of the ethnic scale. Blacks, Hispanics, Jews, Muslims, Native Americans, all creeds and colors that are not caucasian are regarded as second-class citizens and not allowed the privileges and freedoms that America should offer everyone. The Lakota tribe did nothing wrong, and in fact did exactly what the white people of Bismarck did. It worked for them, but the Native American tribe’s protest was shut down and not accepted like the whites’ was. This is an egregious act of racism that should not be allowed to stand. The Lakota tribe should be protected under the acts that gave them freedom, not scorned and banished from their own land.