Ginger Discrimination: Fortis et hospitalis

Root People

Friends, family, and those who have been carried here by the sacred winds of Facebook stalking, the time has come for me to once again take up a good fight that not long ago came to rest as an angry flame upon my pensive brow.  Recent events have brought to light once again this force that stands against me, this darkness that rears its ugly head and hisses at vibrant life, the injustice that burns in the chest of anyone who has ever climbed to the top of the mountain, looked out, and seen how the promised land lies within boundaries of barbs and wires guarded by giants.

Dear loved ones, the time has come to share the story, the suffering, the beauty.

We’re deep, we root people.  We have skin rough and thick, prepared to guard us against the unforgiving earth.  But that skin holds in it some of the most powerful, pale fruit you will ever experience.  That’s why it has happened like this.  A stranger’s stare, a quick joke, a couple eerily exclusive coincidences–they rub against that skin, poke at the husk a bit, and in spite of the indignation, we root people carry on with our knotted and twisted grace.  But it is past words and sticks and stones; it is more than a question of skin and bones… once you have cut into the root, we will make our presence known.  A simmering in your nostrils, a heat in the back of your throat, a tear in your eye… you may not realize it.  But we’ve arrived.

1 : a thickened pungent aromatic rhizome that is used as a spice and sometimes medicinally
2 : pep, verve:  the “ginger” to work hard
3 : A human, characterized by pale skin, freckles and bright red hair. “Gingers” are generally considered to be inferior to their more melanin-rich brethren, and thus deservingly discriminated against. Gingers are thought to have no souls. The condition, “gingervitis” is genetic and incurable.

Maybe it was my human rights class that was getting to me, with lofty ideas that we as a species may reach a place of respect for the dignity of every person.  Maybe it was the that naiveté rose to the surface and the hope that tickled my eyes shut with her feathery reasoning.  Whatever the reason, I had begun to believe in some brand of color blindness.

And then it happened: I was leaving my house, not even flinching as that damned bark-happy golden retriever ran back and forth behind my neighbors’ fence.  “You know, he’s barking at you,” Edwin told me.  Ha, I thought, how ridiculous.  But eduvin insisted on proving this to me.  He strolled on by the fence.  No alarm.  Looked easy enough.  I didn’t make it two steps before the dog went crazy.  I hid again.  Edwin comes back to my side.  Leaves rustle.  I show my head—rage confined by an iron fence greets me.  We try this three times.  The dog keeps his eyes on me, fixated. 

I will not doubt again. Even if three times doesn’t constitute statistical significance. 

Emily asked me, bewildered in spite of her ample experience with the demon of ginger discrimination, “How does it know?  Dogs aren’t even supposed to be able to see in color!”

Which leads us to our main conclusion, friends.  Nobody is colorblind.  Not Mother Nature or any of her children.

Ginger discrimination:

The tendency of Earth’s natural laws to seek out those in the human population with the mutation stated above in order to unfurl the misfortunes of many on a select few.  The condition is especially exacerbated when juxtaposed with an individual with divine favor, a wizard of the 17th level, or a universal truth (read: Charles Skold).

I’ve lived all my life under much the same circumstance as I live now: with red hair, pale skin, yes, freckles and an abhorrence for sunlight.  Sure, bad things happened.  All the time, now that I think of it.  But I’ve always been of optimistic nature, and I have always taken misfortune to be synonymous with life.  Until coming to this beautiful land of brown eyes and dark hair … and TCSFRML.

Here, the untold stories of ginger suffering:

You have all likely heard of how the people of Chile incinerate our honey.  Not Charles’ honey, mine.  Check out the post.

That wasn’t the last run-in with officials that left me hiding my hair for a week afterward.  Later on, when it came time to procure my Chilean documents, I was detained for significantly longer than my peers at the PDI (the Investigations Police of Chile).

And then there were the ruins.  Literally, not metaphorically.  Though you can take it as you please…  When Charles A. H. Skold, aDisturbing the Fauna: Machu Picchu commanding young man of over six feet, chose to climb rocks, leave trails, disturb the flora and fauna, and all but urinate on the common rules of certain historic sites, nothing happened.  But the moment my head appeared over a rocky ledge, I hear a whistle and a demand to get back at once.

Not convinced?  How about how on a train to Aguas Calientes (the stopping place before Macchu Pichu) Emily, Charles, and I were all sitting with our feet up on the seats in front of us.  An official came by and told me to remove my feet, but the others were not addressed and did not need to remove their feet.

No tea for you!Or how about the question of service.  On a trip to La Serena with our program, I was the only one not served food.  In Arica, Chile, Emily, Chaz, and I received the bill before I had received the tea that I ordered (my only order).  But Cusco takes the service cake: after requesting my tea several times, the server returned with two more chichas for Emily and Charles.  Nothing for me.

And think: those are several of the stories when there is clearly someone to blame.  But many the time when everything that can go wrong does go wrong, and I come to realize that Murphy probably came from a long line of Irish gingers, moved to England only to have their surname change from Ó Murchadha to Murphy and their “You are a human worthy of dignity” to “You are a ginger spud.”

Anyhow, discrimination without a face: someone apparently taking a sledgehammer to my suitcase when I arrived in Boston after a flight in which the number for my seat was ‘XXX’ (good thing I wrapped that pisco in bags of jam and manjar); Peruvian girls insisting I’m ugly (beauty is a social construct, speaking of which, pale has been out for a couple hundred years); or how about when my wallet was stolen the first time I ever carried it in my purse, the only time I was carrying most of my documents, right after I had picked up around eighty bucks from the office…  And then there’s MIA’s new music video

Friends, there are many other untold stories.  I can only pray that time will give utterance to our suffering.

“Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.”


3 thoughts on “Ginger Discrimination: Fortis et hospitalis

  1. AUGHHHHH WH AUDEN!!!!!!!!

    Also, please don’t misrepresent me: Charles and I had not ordered chicha, but rather that purple non-alcoholic drink that started with an ‘m.’ Of course, the anti-ginger sentiments are still apparent either way you tell the story…that, or you made the whole thing up completely, but I don’t really remember because it WAS chicha and I was too drunk to have any idea…

  2. Pingback: Like a prayer?? (Cusco: Ruins and Dehydration) | Chilean Adventures of the Pelirroja Peligrosa

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