Colorblind - Part I

By Patrick Hall

Back in the 1970s, I found myself working at Yupik Eskimo Boarding School in Northwestern Alaska. Saint Mary’s Mission School had been a fixture on the Yukon Delta-Bering Sea Coastal area since1905. The school operated by the Catholic Jesuit Fathers served Yupik Eskimo students from various communities throughout the Delta.

I vividly remember the day I arrived at St Mary’s.  I along with a dozen other educators and staff were shuttled from the airfield on the back of a flatbed truck.  We came to St. Mary's every year to work for a minimal stipend.  It was, for many of us, a ministry.1  However, to be less generous, it could've also been described as a "three-hots and a cot deal," which was somewhat typical of Roman Catholic mission operations at the time.

Yupik Eskimo culture was very different from my urban upbringing as a young Negro boy growing up in the 1950s. Like many of Gussaks, a term that Yupiks sometimes employed to describe outsiders, we were taken in by the many indigenous cultural habits and events that took place. In my first months living in St. Mary's, I, like other staff members were captivated by the different cultural accouterments of Yupik society. We had many opportunities to enjoy Yuraqing or traditional Yupik dance celebrations. We dined on Yupik Eskimo foods such as akutaq (Eskimo ice cream), fertile eggs, ptarmigan, frozen fish, seal, as well as different types of muktuk.  On a visit to the coastal village of Hooper Bay, I even had a chance to sample walrus. Also, in the dead of winter, when the Northern Lights were at their brightest, I remember on several occasions going outside with a Catholic Yupik Nun to whistle at the lights, to make the lights dance.

Here is a quick polemic.  St. Mary’s was a Roman Catholic mission, which would drive today’s leftists Jacobins and “cultural appropriation catechumenates" bonkers. However, many every day realities demonstrated how traditional Yupik spirituality and culture had meshed or mingled decades ago to form a unique Yupik Catholic devotional. According to the native Jesuit Priest, a traditional shaman, "transference of sanctity" had been intrinsic to Yupik native culture when the first Russian Orthodox Christians interacted with Yupik culture as far back as the 18th Century.
Sidebar: The term Gussak which Yupik’s employ to describe Caucasians, had its etymology from the Russian term Cossack.  I was a black Gussak, and many of my Caucasian colleagues were white Gussaks.  But that was the syncretic glossary that existed in Northwestern Alaska. However, something predictable occurred during my time at St. Mary’s.  Everyday life intervened!  
Of Quiet Epiphanies

During the weeks, months and years, I worked at St. Mary's, ethnicity, skin color, how we communicated, and other cultural mores became less critical, if not wholly trite.  This did not mean that we weren't aware of such immutables.  They became tertiary at best. Instructional endeavors were the primary focus of the school. However, we were equally involved in many mundane, if not vital, tasks. These could range from packing hay under school buildings, unloading supply barrages (mostly by hand), that came up from Seattle in the late summer and other monthly insulation and structural maintenance. These were ongoing tasks due to the unforgiving Northwestern Alaskan winters.  In the Yupik villages up and down the Andreafsky and Yukon Delta, it could remain well below 0 Fahrenheit for weeks.  

Also, like clockwork, every Saturday morning, we conducted major maintenance and clean-up of the facilities. Unlike the Government or BIA Schools in the area, St. Mary's had no janitorial staff.  It was left to students, teachers, administrators, and staff to clean bathrooms, rec areas, the residence halls, laundry, the library, chapel, classrooms, warehouses, cafeteria, kitchen areas, and hallways.2   In retrospect, during these moments of performing every day but necessary things, the ephemerals of being black, white, or Yupik faded. It simply wasn't that important, as we became less focused on so-called cultural differences. When you spend hours on your back stuffing tons of hay under a building with someone, day after day, one's humanness begins to show. Once again, I was aware that I was a Gussak from the lower 48, and say, Moses Fancyboy,   Anna Amaqjuaq, and Sister Nora Boyscout were Yupik. Over time, we were able to mitigate the shields of cultural upbringing, and these became more and more relegated to the "ok, so what” realm of everyday consciousness. Our skin color and other cultural peculiarities evolved to be the least important thing about us.  Many others teachers, staff, catholic priests, and sisters (many of them Yupik) had experienced and gone through similar epiphanies.  It wasn't that we became "colorblind." That was, strictly speaking, would be impossible, if not totally beside the point. It was that immutables such as skin color, verbal and non-verbal communication mores became more dampened or muted. Skin color and other socio-cultural differences that today’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Cabal and CRT bigots are fanatically focused upon became boring or less holy. To put it bluntly, human differences couldn't be used as points of "division, perpetual victimhood, and hate," as Diversicrats and Critical Race Theory neo-racists shape-shifters seem to promote.      
 
Yupik Eskimos were, for the most part, a very kind and giving people. At the same time, as we got to know one another, I found some of them to be complete jerks. But that was ok! We are all sinners. We are the failed products of original sin. To paraphrase the late German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, "being human can be messy" or "unordentlich” to cite the theologian.3   We’re all a little bit untidied, bigoted, racist, disordered, sexist, insensitive, phobic, or even creepy at times. However, despite all our shortcomings, we can engage in a tremendous amount of what is good about our species.

______
1. Patrick Hall. MLK believed there was “no slave nor free” in Christ.  Freedom's Journal Insitute July 14, 2021: [online]
 2. Back in the late 1970s, Anthropologist Judith Kleinfeld published her ethnographic research of St. Mary’s Mission.Please see the book:  Eskimo School on the Andreafsky. Praeger Publishers, 1979.
  3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The Cost of Discipleship.  Simon & Schuster: 1963.

[Patrick Hall is a retired university library director. He is a graduate of Canisius College and the University of Washington, where he received three advance degrees. He has published in Freedom's Journal Magazine, America, Commonweal, Headway, Journal of Academic Librarianship, American Libraries and others. He currently volunteers at a local VA hospital in the town of Erie, Pa.]

No Comments


Recent

Archive

 2021

Categories

Tags

#race riot 1619 project 1776 1964 2024 90 million ACT Abolitionists Achievement Afghanistan African Americans Afrocentric Al Sharpton Alabama Alaska Amazon American Flag American Hero American History American Voters American racism Americans America Amy Coney Barrett Apple Asians Attorney General Keith Ellison Attorney General Letitia James Authenticity BLM Banks Barack Obama Behavior Ben Shapiro Bible Biden Administration Big government Bill of rights Black Americans Black Churches Black Codes Black Governor Black History Black Leader Black Lives Matter Black Millionaires Black Wall Street Black achievement Black community Black families Matter Black kids Black on Black crime Black people Black racist Black towns Black underclass Black voter suppression Black vote Black women Blacks Black Breonna Taylo Build Back Better bill Build Back Better Bureau of Justice Statistics CARES Act CBS CCP CDC CEO Elon Musk CNN CRT Calexico California Capitalism Capitol Building Carbon emissions Cartoon Catholic Cato Institute Character Charleston Charter schools Chicago China Chinese Communist Party Chinese Christian values Christianity Christian Church City government Civil Rights Act of 1964 Civil Rights Civil War Class room Climate Change Coal Coca-cola Collective College Board data Color Communism Communist party Condoleezza Rice Congressional Black Caucus Congressional Budget Office Congress Conservatives Conservative Conspiracy Theories Cops Counyrt Covid-19 Create a crowd Crime Criminality Cuban people Cuba Curtis Hill DEI DNA DNC DOJ Dave Chappelle David Boaz Dear Larry Death rates Decline Defense Department Delta airlines Delta Demark Democrat party Democratic Party Democratic socialism Democrats Democrat Department of Justice Derek Chauvin Developer Dick Gregory Disincentivizing District Attorney Diversity Doctors Documentary Donald Trump Dr. Anthony Fauci Dr. Eric M. Wallace Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Earth Day Earth Edgewater's mayor Edgewater\'s mayor Election integrity Electorate Equality Equity Eskimo FDA FEMA Facebook Fackcheck.org Fake News Farmers Fascism Fascist Fathers Federal Emergency Management Act Federal Government Female Film Fire Fighters Flaws Food For the People Act Foundation Founding Fathers Frederick Douglass Free Market Freedm Freedom's Journal Insitute Freedom's Journal Magazine Freedoms Journal Institute Freedoms Journal Magazine Freedom Free Gangs Gasoline Gavin Newsom Gaza Strip George Floyd George Gascon George W. Bush Georgia German Glenn Youngkin Global Warming Goverment Governor Cuomo Governor's race Governors Governor Grades Great Society Greater Good Greek mythology Guns Gwen Berry HBCUs Hamas Hard work Harriet Tubman Hatred Heritage Foundation High School Hillary Clinton Historically Black Colleges and Universities History Hitler Hmong Hollywood House Republican leadership House Housing Hugo Chavez Human Race Hunter Biden Hypocrisy IMDb IRS Ibram X. Kendi Identity politics Inclusion Independence Day Internal Revenue Service Inventors Isaiah Israel James Madison James Monroe Jeff Bezos Jesus Christ Jews Jim Crow Jimmy Carter Joe biden John Cena John F. Kennedy John Kass John Lewis Voting Right Advancement Act John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act John McWhorter John Stossel Jokes Josh McDowell July 4th Jurisprudence Jury Verdict Justice K-12 Kamala Harris Karl Marx Katrina Ken Blackwell Kenosha Kevin McGary Kingmaker Klu Klux Klan Kyle Rittenhouse LAw LGBTQ community LGBTQ LIverals Lab Larry Elder Latinos Latinx Law enforcement Lawsuits Legacy of Slavery Liberal progressives Liberals Liberal Libertarian Looters Los Angeles Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson Lyft Lynching MLB MLK MSNBC Mainstream media Male Manning Johnson Markets Marxists Marxist Mattel Maxine Waters Media Medicare Men Meritocracy Metaphore Mexican Americans Mexican Michael Brown Michael Ramirez Michelle Avan Middle East policy Military Millions Minneapolis police department Morality Murders Muslim N95 NAACP NAN NCAA NEA Nancy Pelosi National Urban League Nazi Neck Holds Neighborhood Watch Netflix Neutrality New Jersey Noam Chomsky Normalcy Normal Normandy North Carolina Nuclear OPEC Obergefell v. Hodges Ohio Oklahoma Olympic trial Olympics Opportunity Oracle Oscars PPolice Palestinians Pandemic Parental choice Pastor Patrick Hall Patrisse Cullors Pentagon Personal freedom Pharmaceutical companies Pilgrims Platform Power plant President Donald Trump President Joe Biden President Obama Press Principles Private Property Private companies Progressive Progress Proud Public Property Race Card Race Racial hatred Racism in America Ranchers Rand Paul Randi Weingarten Raphael Warnock Red Wave Reform Rep. Liz Cheney Rep. Maxine Waters Repent Republican Party Republicans Republican Respite Responsible Government Rich Right to Vote Riots Risk Robert F. Kennedy Robin DiAngelo Rockerfeller Roe vs Wade Rule of Law Russians Russia SAT SEC SJW Salvation Army San Diego State University San Francisco Scandinavia Scholarship School Choice School board Science Scientists Scripture Sen. Bernie Sanders Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer Sexual Harrassment Shawshank redemption Skillsocracy Slavery Slaves Slave Snoop Dog Social Justice Soldiers South Carolina Southern states Soviet Union Spacex Speaker Nancy Pelosi Speech Stacey Abrams Steve Crowder Steve Jobs Stock market Stores Students Suffering Supporters Supremacist Supreme court Sweden Taliban Taxpayers Teachers' Union Teachers Tesla The Left The Reverend The Rich The State The West Thomas Jennings Thomas Sowell Tom Wolf Toymakers Trade workers Truth vs Lies Truth Tulsa 1921 Turnout Twitter US Constitution Uber Uncle Tom Underclass Underground Railroad Unforgiveness Unionized monopolies United States flag United States Unity Urban areas Vaccine Venezuela Vice President Kamala Harris Victims Victomhood Video message Vietnam Virginia Voter ID Votes Voting Rights Act Voting law Voting WGN WHO WWII WWI Walter Williams Warner Bros. Television Group Washington D.C. Water front Weakness Wealth creation Wealth Welfare state White Christians White Guilt White House White People White Supremacist White Supremacy White cops White-Savior Whites White Winsome Sears Wisconsin Woke Racism Woke Women WoodsonCenter Work World Health Orhanization Worldview Wuhan YouTube abnormal academia academics access activists advancement advantage adversary affirmative action air taxi alcoholic anarchy angry anti-corruption anti-semitic anti-trans antifa antiracists apartments arrested arrest assumptions athlete attacks authoritarianism authority bad decisions battle biology black clergy bonds boycott broadband budget bill bureaucrats burglaries business owners business cancel Culture cancel cukture cancer censors charity cheating checks and balances chief executive city council civility civilization classroom climte college colorblind colored comedian comedy commons community compassion competition compliance conservative content conservative women contempt conviction corporate welfare corrupt politicians cost-free cost courage coverage criminal justice criminal crisis critical race theory cultual marxism culture war culture dad death penality debate decision-makers delusion democracy dictatorship differential poverty discrimination diveristy driveway economic freedom economic policy economic recovery economics economic economist economy education election reform elections election emotions empathy employees employee employer employment enemies energy entrance exams entrepreneurs equal results ethnicity ethnic evidence executive orders experts fact-checkers facts fairness faith leader faith false narrative families far left farms fear first amendment force gender confusion gender genocide governance government control government schools green new deal greenhouse gases groups guilty gun control gun violence handouts hate speech helpless blacks heroine hero high-income high-school curriculum homelessness homeless homicides homicide hospital human beings human nature hyperbole immigration impeachment incentive individuals inequality inflation information infrastructure inheritance inner-city innovation instruction insurrection interview inventions investments jobs kids king labor force labor lawlessness liberty licensed lies life in prison loans lock downs low income major league baseball mandates manipulated manslaughter masks mass incarceration medicine microaggression military budget minimum wage misdemeanor misinformation misleading mission mixed-race couples mob violence monarchy money monument moral fabric moral superiority moral murder name callling national anthem national debt natural immunity neopronouns normal life obfuscation officers omicron one race opinion oppressed oppressors vs. oppressed opt out parents patents paycheck payouts people of color people piplines podium ceremony poineers polarization police brutality police policy political exploitation politicians politics polling poverty power president prison private schools problem solving progressives pronouns prosperity protest public health public investment public policy public schools purpose qualified immunity race and culture racial bias racial equality racial inequalities racism racist nation racist white cops racists racist radiation radical administration ratings reactor recall reforms regulations religious liberty reparations resisting arrest respect restaurant retirement right principles riot role model rules for thee and not for me safety scholar school second amendment self defense self-reliance semiautomatic rifle sexism sexuality shootings shoplifting skin color snow social distancing social media social security socialism socialist societal inequalities society spending sports standards state run states stereotypes stimulus stock subjectivism subsidizing college subsidy suppression swing voters systemic racism tactic talent tax breaks tax the rich taxation taxes taxpayer teachers union teenagers terrorist the poor theft totalitarianism transgender woman transgender trial tribalism triillions tuition unemployment unfair unpopular unvaccinated vaccination vaccine cards venture capitalist victim culture victimology violence violent crime virology virtue voluntary voters wages war welfare white privilege women in history