Short notice: friends of racial respect and equality are holding an “Alternative Homecoming: Friday Night Rights” rally in Sioux Falls this afternoon from 5 to 6 at 10th and Minnesota.
Join us tonight from 5-6 p.m. at the SE corner of 10th Street and Minnesota Avenue in Sioux Falls, SD to send a message of unity and love in response to the racist homecoming incident in Sturgis, SD earlier this week. We will gather with signs showing our community’s support for Native students in South Dakota.
Materials for making signs will be provided. Please share information about this demonstration to help spread the word! [Facebook event page, 2017.10.13]
The Meade School Board voted 8–0 yesterday to cancel all remaining homecoming activities this week at Sturgis Brown High School and forfeit their football game to scheduled opponent Pine Ridge. The board was responding—quickly, correctly, instructively—to racist images and messages arising from an unofficial homecoming activity Wednesday evening.
“That’s not what western South Dakota or Sturgis is about,” [Superintendent Don] Kirkegaard said. “I can’t defend those actions, but I can try my best to make sure it never happens again.”
Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen said the greater community needed to also make a statement condemning the incident and reaffirming inclusive values. He planned to meet with city council members soon to consider the options.
“Our community does not treat people that way,” Carstensen said [Mark Andersen, “Sturgis Cancels Homecoming Game as Fallout from Insensitive Message Continues,” Rapid City Journal, 2017.10.13].
It’s a darn shame that a few bad apples have to spoil the game, parade, and dance for all the kids in Sturgis. But that’s what happens when we let racism go unchecked: we all suffer the moral and reputational taint. Likewise in Aberdeen: a few racist know-nothings holler about brown people and throw the occasional stink bomb of a letter into the newspaper, and the whole town suffers as workers and investors look at Aberdeen as an unwelcoming place to do business. Likewise in the world: we send an ignorant racist to the White House, and no, Mr. President, Pakistan and the world don’t “start[…] to respect the United States again“; other nations question our leadership.
The imminent rally in Sioux Falls is 370 miles away from the Sturgis football field darkened by its young residents’ thoughtless (we can only hope) racism, but one racist outburst in one South Dakota town makes all of South Dakota look bad. Reconciliation is a statewide effort. Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, and Sturgis must consider each other neighbors as surely as we have to start thinking of Pine Ridge and Agency Village as our neighbors.