Less than one week on the job and Donald Trump has signed executive orders directly opposing rights, funding, and protections favoring women, immigrants, creatives, the environment and Native Americans, to start. While there’s no shortage of reasons for American citizens to be outraged by Trump’s divisive and downright demagogic leadership, Trump’s recent ruling in support of advancing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) has reignited protests which were paused in December 2016 when then-President Barack Obama halted the project which threatens the sacred land, tribal burial ground, and water supply of Native Americans. As Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said at the time, “In the year 2016, we should not continue to trample on Native American sovereignty. We should not endanger the water supply of millions of people. We should not become more dependent on fossil fuel and accelerate the planetary crisis of climate change.” But, when President Obama’s successor goes on record as denying climate change even exists, the road ahead appears dangerous and bleak. As such, the fight continues.
Just as athletes have amplified their voices and platforms to speak out against racial and social injustice, we’re seeing athletes join in on this cause as well.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback and activist Colin Kaepernick, who caused a political firestorm when he protested the national anthem during the NFL season as a means to take a stand against police shooting unarmed black men, and injustice overall, has not let up since the NFL season ended. Two weeks ago, Kaepernick hosted a “Know Your Rights” camp in Harlem, with the goal to “raise awareness on higher education, self empowerment, and instruction to properly interact with law enforcement in various scenarios.” Maintaining his pledge to raise awareness for injustices, the quarterback used his Instagram account to bring the attention of DAPL to his 1.5 million followers.
Another athlete breaking her silence is UFC’s most recognizable fighter, Ronda Rousey. After keeping a low profile following her devastating loss to Amanda Nunes, Rousey reemerged in a big way. Days ago, she was spotted in North Dakota distributing supplies to protesters. According to TMZ, Rousey and her friend, MMA fighter Pauline Macias, brought fruit, vegetables, tents, wood-burning stoves and other supplies. The former bantamweight champion has also been posting DAPL updates to her verified Facebook page.
I had one of the best road trips of my life with @rondarousey to deliver supplies to the protesters at Standing Rock! This was such an incredible experience, & I can’t thank my friend enough for allowing me to be a part of it! #NODAPL #StandWithStandingRock #StandingRock #ArmbarNation #NoDak #UFC #RondaRousey #PitaLiving #TeamPita #TeamRousey #Activist #mma #wmma #judo #ijf #RoadTrips #RV #StandingRock #TeamBG @ballengeegroup
A photo posted by Pauline Macias (@paulinepitamacias) on
Lastly, the New York Daily News has reported, Thompson Brothers Lacrosse CEO, professional player, and Native American Bill O’Brien traveled to Standing Rock, North Dakota months ago “to protest and organize a lacrosse game on the front lines as a way to heal tensions.” Like other athletes turned activists, O’Brien recognizes the value in leveraging his platform to raise awareness. Speaking to the Daily News, O’Brien said, “I don’t think the water protectors plan on leaving any time soon. In their mind, and my mind, they’re fighting for something that’s right. They’re fighting not just an indigenous cause, they’re fighting for all humans beings on Mother Earth and they’re fighting for clan water, so hopefully through persistence and peaceful protests, the right side will prevail.” Though the lacrosse community may be niche compared to Kaepernick’s millions of followers, it’s going to take every voice to win this battle.
If you’d like to stand with Standing Rock, take action by donating to one or all of these defense funds. Trump protesters aren’t going to win every battle, but it’s certainly worth the effort. Everything is at stake and we need to put the pressure on Trump and our elected city, state, and federal officials to do right be their citizens.