'S---hole Countries'

I need to say a word about "S--- Hole" countries.

In 1969 I managed to get my seaman's papers and took a job with the Merchant Marine on a now-defunct company called Farrell Lines that traded with West Africa. I visited seven different nations there: from Dakar, Senegal down to Lagos, Nigeria. I also spent several weeks on-ship in the ports of New York City and Baltimore.
Those were hopeful days in Africa, before the oil and mineral-mining corporations took over with their lethal, heavily-drugged, child armies. I had free time to wander to the outskirts of the cities and get truly lost among the people, totally dependent on their goodwill.

The citizens of these mother-lands taught me lessons I never learned in American schools and universities: trust, innocence, humility, the ancient law of hospitality, collective work, and the riches of innate joy. Never have I felt so safe wandering alone, even after midnight, through the city. In fact, the real "S--- Holes" were here in the USA, the ports of NYC and Baltimore after dark, with their perpetual threat of violence and robbery, the air thick with racial distrust between drunken sailors (I among them).

I never thought my country would have a president who disdained the poor, despised people of color, and insulted the citizens of the Third World. I feel ashamed. I ask forgiveness from my African brothers and sisters, who took such good care of me when I was 21, who fed me with their hands and gave me to sleep in their grass huts on the edge of the forest. But I feel most sorry for our president, and for his crippled heart.

1 comment:

laura grace weldon said...

Thank you for this.