More than two centuries after the Declaration of Independence promised equal rights for all, America’s legacy of racism still remains. Discrimination on the basis of race in public accommodations is unlawful under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
To begin to heal and move toward real racial equality, we must address the unlawful discrimination in our community today. We unequivocally condemn the recent blatant, racist denial of services to Native Americans at a hotel and bar in Rapid City. We continue to show solidarity with Indigenous people in communities across our state.
The ACLU of South Dakota applauds NDN Collective’s federal class action lawsuit against the Retsel Corporation, parent company of the Grand Gateway Hotel and Cheers Sports Lounge and Casino, for denying services to Native Americans. Challenging discrimination like this in court helps improve racial equality and combat systemic racism in all its forms.
But we also need to acknowledge and reckon with systemic racism in our state.
We see examples of this every day – everything from the disproportionate numbers of Black, Indigenous and other people of color represented in our criminal legal system to a new law designed to censor honest discussion of our nation’s history of racism to references to the Oceti Sakowin Oyate being removed from the state’s social studies content standards.
To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only these harms, but also the harms tracing back to this country’s origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation’s founding.
A systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality. Only then will we be able to ensure that all people living in the United States – no matter their race, gender identity, disability, religion or creed – have equal access to our country’s promises of true life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
About the ACLU of South Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of South Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes North Dakota and Wyoming. The team in South Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly, and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women, and the LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of South Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of South Dakota.