Over the past week, I’ve been hearing a lot about the stand-off in Dakota between the Sioux of Standing Rock and the Army Corp of Engineers, trying to build the Dakota Access Pipeline. Mostly, I’ve been seeing people posting memes showing their support, or “Standing” with Standing Rock Native Americans. What I haven’t seen or read, until a few minutes ago, are the actual details of what is causing all of this.
Thanks to either my objective nature, or my cynicism over people’s use of social media to manipulate the truth to their side, I haven’t eagerly sided with anyone.
Do I agree that Native Americans should have rights and a say in developments that affect their reservations or lands sacred or valuable to them, absolutely! Call it “Colonial Guilt” if you want, but I just believe people deserve what they deserve and others shouldn’t take without asking. Plus, it is an actual law in America.
Do I think that some facts about what has happened, and what has been said by either side is one hundred percent true? No. Neither side is going to be completely honest about what they do or how they do things. That’s human nature, regardless of one’s skin color or heritage.
Personally, I think if the Army Corp of Engineers and the companies behind the pipeline had been up-front about what they wanted from the start, as well as offering the Native Americans affected by the pipeline generous compensation, things would have gone a lot smoother.
But that is all beside the point of this blog.
This blog is about people and celebrities jumping on a cause just because it is getting some play.
The events in Standing Rock have been heating up since early Summer. It wasn’t until the news actually reported something about it that celebrities got involved. Now you see them throwing their support on Twitter and Instagram. Some even had the balls t actually GO to Standing Rock! Kudos Shailene Woodley!
What bothers me with this is the same thing that bothered me when 276 school girls were kidnapped by the Boko Haram back in 2015. It was, and still is, horrible. Some have been freed, others escaped, but there are still over a hundred girls missing. When this tragedy first happened, a lot of celebrities posted pictures on social media showing their support, their frustration, and their ineffectiveness.
It is the same thing with any tragedy. Celebrities post pictures showing them upset, determined, or supportive. But then the story fades away and so does their support, their determination, and, I’m guessing, their anger?
Sure some people will say that a celebrity speaking out about something bring that subject more attention. I agree. There are also some celebrities whose name always pops up for causes, like Susan Sarandan and Mark Ruffalo, to name two. They seem to be socially conscious and willing to speak up about it.
But to me, it seem disingenuous. Many of these celebrities have clout and, more importantly, money. They could actually do something positive about some of these things. Ok, so maybe they couldn’t do much about those girls being abducted, but there are serious problems in America, for example, that could use some of their star-power and/or donations.
Let’s use homelessness as an example. According to Wikipedia…
“In 2013, one out of 30 children, or 2.5 million were considered homeless. There were an estimated 57,849 homeless veterans estimated in the United States during January 2013; or 12 percent of all homeless adults. Just under 8 percent of homeless U.S. veterans are female. Texas, California and Florida have the highest numbers of unaccompanied homeless youth under the age of 18; comprising 58% of the total homeless under 18 youth population. Homelessness affects men more than women. At least 70% to 85% of all homeless are men.”
A pretty serious problem, right? That doesn’t even mention the families living well below the poverty line.
According to a Housing and Urban Development official, who spoke to the New York Times recently, it would cost about $20 billion for the government to effectively eliminate homelessness in the United States. That’s just slightly less money than Americans spend on Christmas decorations.
Now imagine if a few celebrities got behind this kind of idea. They used their social media to post pictures of themselves NOT spending money of Christmas decorations and urged others not to either. Or, even better, to take the money they would spend on Christmas decorations, and donate it to help the homeless problem on a national scale.
Perhaps my alternate point to all this rambling is that so many of us are eager to support something happening elsewhere, or a cause that we see on social media, which is fine and dandy. But a lot of the times, we forget to help those affected by the systemic problems of our society. Problems that are continually with us. Ensuring the rights of those at Standing Rock is important. But they shouldn’t be more important than the rights of someone to have a roof over their head, or to live in a place that is safe, or for someone to practice their religious beliefs without persecution.
The Sophie’s Choice question is “who do we help more?” I guess that is up to the average individual.
But if you have the capability to help more, like using your name/ celebrity, then put your name and money where your mouth is a make a difference, not a photo-op.