Eugene Weekly : Viewpoint : 12.29.11

Waiting for Justice?

Making a way out of no way

While I fervently wish that racism would take a holiday, I haven’t noticed that it does. I listen to my Tea Party critics when they accuse me of “playing the race card” every time I don’t get my way. It’s more about making my own way out of no way. It’s not like Black Santa is going to appear in Kinte cloth on Kwanzaa-Umoja with a reparations check, saying “thanks for all you do, love Barack.”

I can give thanks that I have a home when it’s 36 degrees, but that is tempered by the revelation that I have a home where it’s 36 degrees F, not 36 degrees C, with a sea breeze. The climate is chilly in other ways. In the “game” where race is a card, the rules say that if I use race it’s a two of diamonds. If a Caucasoid, or someone with most favored minority status uses race, it’s an ace to prove me wrong. I don’t mind being proven wrong, I just hate being right. Given that usual outcome, my actual experience is that I can’t hope for any solution or resolution from you. That’s like waiting for a pimp to free his hos, or a slaver giving his slaves 40 acres, a mule and a free ride to Harvard, let alone Howard. 

Look, even the dude who ripped off an African melody to write “Amazing Grace” was a slaver, who after being delivered of the storm (which was the inspiration for the song) still didn’t free his slaves on that voyage and continued to make more slave voyages.

I don’t believe any institution rooted in slavery, or expect that a state founded in racial injustice, like Oregon, would allow its institutions to embody and embrace a larger humanity. Not at the expense of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy more commonly known by its kinder, gentler appellation: the Matrix of Domination. The Matrix is that interlocking set of isms that can be known by the acronym CR2 A3 SH (classism, racism, religion, addiction, ability, age, sexism, heterosexism). Definitely, if you speak English and were taught and believed the “Columbus discovered America” narrative, along with the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus, you are in the Matrix. You know what agents of the system look and sound like, and asking them for justice and freedom is like asking the Mafia to turn Vegas into a homeless vet rehabilitation community. Not necessarily an idea that would occur to them.

All that remains is that you free yourself from your own bonds, be your own Morpheus, Trinity and Neo, and never trust an agent of the System to free you. So I don’t play the race card, because I don’t allow myself to expect justice, where it has been long evicted. But I’m open to being surprised when I see Justice on the street, begging for Change.  Maybe during those occasions I’ll raise a fist with Justice and shout Harambee!

 Let’s pull together. Till freedom comes, stay strong.

Mark Harris is an instructor and substance abuse prevention coordinator at LCC.