Posts Tagged ‘ohio’

Thanks & Praise


Corn Fields, Holmes County, Ohio © Jim Korpi

“And God be praised we had a good increase… Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” – Edward Winslow, Mourt’s Relation

sticks and stones

Missing Duck, Goat Farm, France © Jim Korpi

They may not break my bones, these names, but they hurt.

Lately I’ve been haunted by the name wasichu (pronounced wah-she-chew). It is Lakota for “non-native” but has come to mean greedy, or “the one who takes the best meat for himself.”

My plate is full of meat, and I sit across from a Bengali whose tray has broth with few vegetables and a piece of bread. He sops up his broth, drinks his glass of steaming water, and makes his way to a job likely to last late into the night.

In the stores of Saudi one can buy soap for “skin whitening” or lotion with “skin bleaching agents.” I’ve gone from a town in Ohio with more than five tanning salons to a place where people are doing everything they can to look white.

Whites want to look dark to give the impression they’ve vacationed some place with a beach and had little to do but relax in the sun. Others bleach their skin to make it appear as though they are not the peasants in the field laboring. Both groups aim for the illusion of those privileged with leisure.

Martin Luther King Jr. hoped for a day when his children would “not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” When will this day come?